COP27 Action Tracker: Celebrations over Brazil elections and King Charles’ pre-COP at the palace

After success at Glasgow, edie's COP Action Tracker is returning for COP27

Taking place in Sharm-El-Sheikh this November, from the 6th to the 17th, COP27 is a major event in the diary for anyone in the sustainability space.

At COP26 in Glasgow last year, nations collectively agreed to update their Paris Agreement commitments within 12 months and signed a new text, the Glasgow Climate Pact – the first from any COP to explicitly mention fossil fuels.

Much has changed since then.

edie has, therefore, launched this COP27 Action Tracker – a regular round-up of the policy and business preparations being made here in the UK and across the world. Read on for our third edition, covering the latest from Egypt, the UK and elsewhere.

The numbers

  • 91% of global GDP now covered by net-zero commitments
  • 30 nations have submitted Paris Agreement NDCs
  • 3,943 companies signed up to implementing science-based emissions targets
  • 1,885 companies with verified science-based emissions targets

The headlines

UK updates

Here in the UK, where edie is based, all eyes have been on new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for the appointment of his new Cabinet and his decisions on COP and the next fiscal statement,

Cabinet-wise, Sunak retained Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor but it was almost a case of ‘all change, please’ elsewhere. Therese Coffey taking the top job at Defra and Grant Shapps’ selection as Business and Energy Secretary are the moves of most significance to the green economy, but public attention remains on the reinstatement of Suella Braverman as home secretary despite security breaches.

Regarding COP27 specifically, Sunak followed predecessor Liz Truss’s example and announced that he would not be attending. He stated that the need to focus on domestic, economic matters took precedence. A fiscal statement is now in the diary for 17 November. However, there are now reports that Sunak may have a chance of heart due to the fact that Boris Johnson, who was Prime Minister during COP26, is set to attend.

One thing that is for certain is that King Charles will not be heading to Egypt. Buckingham Palace announced over the weekend that his Majesty will be hosting a reception for world leaders, environment ministers, NGOs and business representatives on Saturday (5 November). Sunak is intending to attend this event. Other attendees will include US climate envoy John Kerry and COP26 President Alok Sharma.

In other news, Sunak has reinstated the moratorium on fracking which was lifted by Truss.  And, we are waiting to see whether the Government will publish its decision on Environment Bill targets to time this week. The targets will be legally binding and cover metrics such as air and water quality and waste.

Global updates

There is a palpable buzz in the online climate space this morning (31 October) following the Brazilian elections. Jair Bolsonaro was ousted by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula, after almost four years in power.

In environmentalist circles, Bolsonaro is hated as a figure who, at best, failed to stop deforestation and pollution in the Amazon, and, at worst, actively encouraged damaging practices. Greenpeace has publicly called the man “a catastrophe for the environment”. Activists on the ground in Brazil have reported a “race” to clear land ahead of the election given the prospect of Bolsonaro’s premiership ending. A report from Carbon Brief states that deforestation rates could fall by around 90% with Bolsonaro out.

Lula has promised to update Brazil’s Paris Agreement commitments and to appoint a climate envoy. In his campaign, he also touted the creation of a new collaboration with other rainforest nations to coordinate and accelerate conservation.

Elsewhere, Mohamed Nasr, lead climate negotiator at the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs, has delivered a pre-COP27 speech urging wealthy nations to “rise to the challenge” on international climate finance and to stop “backsliding” on previous commitments. The need for the creation of a loss and damage system and the need for the Global North to finally meet its $100bn per year pledge to the Global South are both top agenda priorities for this COP. The target was first set in 2009 and has never been met. The peak was $83m, delivered in 2020.

“The gap in finance is huge,” Nasr told journalists, expressing his concern. “Implementation on the ground is lacking, it is really lagging behind”.

In other news:

  • Egypt has confirmed ‘together for implementation’ as its overarching mantra for COP27.
  • Climate activists convened by Christian Aid, including Vanessa Nakate, have been in London calling on Sunak to back a dedicated loss and damage fund. Their formal meeting was cancelled at the last minute.
  • The United Arab Emirates has legislated for a 2050 net-zero target after first announcing the move last October. National representatives told media earlier this year that it has been pushed to implement the target partly due to the growth of net-zero targets in the energy industry.
  • The EIB has announced an ‘unprecedented’ boost in funding for clean energy generation, energy infrastructure and energy efficiency to support the EU’s aim to end Russian fossil fuel imports by 2027.
  • France has announced a new ambition to plant one billion trees by 2030 – equivalent to a 10% increase in its existing stock.
  • The EU has confirmed plans to table a “strategic vision” for carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) technologies in 2023 in a bid to give investors certainty as the nascent industry scales.
  • Lewis Pugh, a UN Ambassador for Oceans, became the first person to complete the 100-mile Red Sea swimming challenge last Wednesday (26 October).

Major climate reports

This past week has seen many major reports being published on energy and climate-related topics.

The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2022 World Energy Outlook came on Thursday (27 October). Much of the report was dedicated to assessing the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine on the global energy transition. The headline takeaway was that upticks in coal-fired electricity generation and LNG imports in some developed nations were “temporary” and, that, overall, the global transition to clean energy is accelerating and will continue to do so.

According to the report, global clean energy investment will surpass $2trn annually by 2030, up from $1.3trn annually at present. At the same time, fossil fuel investment will decrease. Power sector emissions are likely to peak in 2025, the IEA believes.

Nonetheless, the IEA is stating that the pace and scale of decarbonisation is still not likely to be sufficient for the world to align with the Paris Agreement. It foresees a 2.5C temperature pathway.

That same 2.5C temperature pathway was, separately, predicted by the UN in the latest NDC Synthesis report. The report assesses the likely outcome if all nations committed to the Paris Agreement deliver their commitments in full which is, of course, unlikely in and of itself. The report warns that global annual emissions are likely to keep rising through to 2030, when, for a 1.5C temperature pathway, they would need to decrease by 43%.

Another major report last week came from the Systems Change Lab, which is convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Bezos Earth Found. An array of other organisations are also supporting the report, including Climate Action Tracker, the NewClimate Institute and the ClimateWorks Foundation.

This report tracked progress on decarbonisation in sectors collectively accounting for 85% of global annual emissions. Across the 40 indicators used, progress was not found to be sufficient in any to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory. You can read edie’s explainer on the top-line findings of this report here.

Finally, the Lancet published its latest ‘Countdown’ report on health and climate. The report emphasised how physical climate impacts are already impacting public health and worker productivity for large swathes of the population. It tracks increasing numbers of heat-related deaths and cases of hunger since 2000 and warns of worse to come.

Crucially, the report highlights that there are still opportunities to bring about positive change. It promotes clean energy investment and investment in electric, public and active transport for the sake of avoiding pollution, especially air pollution.

Words of wisdom

“Climate commitments to net-zero are worth zero without the plans, policies and actions to back [them] up. Our world cannot afford any more greenwashing, fake movers or late movers.”

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General

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