Good COP bad COP?: CISL’s Dr Nina Seega on what went right and wrong at COP27
In edie’s latest SustyTalk interview, Dr Nina Seega, research director for sustainable finance at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), recaps her time on the ground at COP27 in Egypt and why the groundbreaking loss and damage agreement leaves room for optimism moving into the new year.
The official texts from COP27 were finalised in the early hours of Sunday morning, with some concerning and confusing language used in regard to energy and the 1.5C limit.
While a monumental agreement was delivered that will see developed nations contribute to a loss and damage funding facility, expected to commence next year, exhausted delegates expressed their disappointment at the weakening of key language in the final text that creates confusion and potential loopholes around “low emissions” energy to be used alongside renewables.
But will this be remembered as a good COP or a bad COP? To discuss, edie’s latest SustyTalk interview sees Dr Nina Seega, research director for sustainable finance at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) reflect on her time at Sharm el-Sheikh.
During the discussion, Seega summarises the mood at COP27, and how a lack of involvement from financial institutions compared to COP26 is indicative of a wider issue. The interview is part of edie’s month-long Net-Zero November editorial campaign.
“COP27 was slightly different [to last year] and it feels like that reflects some of the structural problems that we have around financing emerging markets,” Seega told edie. “If you think about financial institutions that came because this was built an African COP and an implementation COP and an adaptation COP, a lot of financial institutions either felt they didn’t have a presence in Africa or presence on the ground and they weren’t currently active in adaptation. As a result, they didn’t send delegates.
“There were notably fewer in terms of numbers of financial solutions, and I think it reflects the issue we have currently where private finance has a real struggle into investing in Africa and investing in Southeast Asia with regards to mitigation and adaptation. It’s an indication of an issue that we have to solve, we have to draw finance and businesses in closer to Africa, so they feel like they have a stake in the discussions as well.”
There have undoubtedly been many lows for climate leaders over the past few weeks, beyond the weakening of some key language in the final agreement. Delegates have said that the fake grass and trees at the venue, coupled with problems accessing food and drinks and the presence of fossil fuel lobbyists, has made for a dystopian atmosphere. There have also undoubtedly been fewer new international initiatives backed with new finance launching this year, compared with last.
But there have been many positive developments, too, from big and bold national and international pledges to leadership at side events from youth and the most-affected regions.
For Seega, COP27 will be remembered for the landmark announcement on loss and damage, but that weakened language on energy and power means that future discussions and negotiations are crucial to keeping 1.5C alive.
“I think it’ll be remembered as a COP where we finally started delivering on loss and damage. I think that’s probably the biggest issue by far. Yes, there was softening of language around low emissions and there is a lot of disappointment in the reactions filtering through that there has been a lack of ambition on 1.5C.”