Day 8 – “Civil Society” day
Civil society was the focus today, with discussions on the role of civil society in shaping the global climate agenda and implementation of the pledges. Sessions were aimed to promote engagement of and with civil society, and localisation of climate action through a people-centred and all of society approach.
Some key highlights from the day included:
- US Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry met with China’s top climate official, Xie Zhenhua, indicating improving relations between the two nations. Brazilian President-elect, Lula, also met with the two for high level meetings.
- 8 countries (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Walloon Region of Belgium) pledged new funding the Least Developed Countries (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF). USD 105.6 million was announced in new funding, and countries (Belgium, Canada, France and the US, and European Commission) signalled political support for the two funds and indicated intention to contribute further. This adds to the USD 413 million that 12 countries pledged at COP 26.
- A new 5-year work programme was launched to promote climate technology solutions in developing countries. The joint work programme involves the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) and will be implemented by the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). The programme covers work from 2023-27 and includes technology roadmaps, work on gender and technology, technology and NDCs and digitalisation. The US announced a contribution of USD 3 million to support its implementation.
Progress of negotiations
The negotiations on countries’ commitments to tackle the climate crisis continued as first tentative drafts were seen of key potential decisions. Some countries look to be attempting to water down commitments. The negotiations are still fluid, but it is understood that the 1.5C has been targeted by China and India, who are keen to have the limit of 2C instead. Alok Sharma, the COP 26 president, pushed back against this, urging for the commitment to 1.5C to remain and not to allow any backsliding.
Similarly in a draft proposal on long-term climate finance, language has been watered down from the Glasgow pact where it urged developed countries “to at least double” climate finance commitments for adaptation to developing country parties, to urging developed countries to continue improving and scaling up adaptation finance and “considering doubling” it. The date of 2023 as being the year from which the climate finance commitment is to be implemented seems to have been removed. This has provoked some backlash.
On loss and damage, the discussions continued. COP 27 President Sameh Shoukry expressed hope that a deal could be reached at the conference, and he was keen to work to reach a “definitive landing zone” that is “satisfactory” for all parties. The ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN told ministers that it won’t leave the summit without a fund for climate-related loss and damage.
It was announced that Indonesia is to receive USD 20 billion of public and private finance to help it shut down its power plants and bring forward the peak emissions date by 7 years. The Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP), made up of the US, Japan and others, will help Indonesia, the 5th largest greenhouse gas emitter, shift away from coal-fired energy to renewable power. The announcement has been met with some concerns as to transparency. Experts are keen for the deal to be transparent and involve communities affected by the climate crisis, and not just the elite. Last year a JETP deal was announced with South Africa and has been subject to issues on transparency of its financing.
The IEA published a report that stresses the pressing need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal to avoid severe impact from climate change. It called for immediate policy action to mobilise financing for clean energy alternatives to coal and ensure a secure and fair transition. The report is called “Coal in Net Zero Transitions: Strategies for Rapid, Secure and People-Centred Change”, and part of the “World Energy Outlook” series. Coal is the biggest source of CO2 emissions from energy, yet demand is still near record highs for the past decade. The report sets out feasible options to governments to reduce coal-related emissions. The countries where coal dependencies are high and the transitions most challenging are highlighted as Indonesia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, India and South Africa.
In some countries (such as India), the challenges look particularly acute and governments don’t appear to be fully committed to implementing the transition. Only 3 days prior to COP 27, the Indian government launched its biggest ever coalmine auction where 141 new sites were being sold off, the 6th and largest of such auctions since 2020 when the coal industry was privatised. Last year, India watered down the language in its final agreement from “phase out” to “phase down” on coal power (currently it accounts for 70% of electricity generation in India). India argues that, as a fast-developing country, it needs to take advantage of its domestic coal reserves (with the 4th largest in the world) for self-reliance and energy security and reduce its dependency on imported coal. In any case, India’s environmental agenda and its commitments to clean energy are being questioned, especially as there are concerns that its environmental regulations are being watered down. Notably the IEA said earlier this year that Modi’s coal expansion plans were “difficult to reconcile with India’s evolving energy needs and environmental priorities”.