Lula steals the show in Egypt as G20 leaders sign communique in Bali: 8 key stories from biodiversity day at COP27

Image top left: Loss and Damage Collaboration. Other images: UN Climate Change - Kiara Worth

Between the G20 leaders Summit concluding in Bali and ministerial pairings being forged to finalise the agreement at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, it’s been a busy day for climate diplomacy.

Alongside overarching efforts to keep 1.5C alive and promote climate justice, proceedings have been dedicated to biodiversity. This year, the themed day’s timing is particularly important. After flying home from Egypt this weekend, many environment ministers will be jet-setting again next month, for meetings of the 15th biodiversity COP in Montreal, Canada. This COP is overseeing the creation of a new ‘Paris-style’ deal for nature and will see all nations committing to halt nature loss and bring the world into a period of widespread nature restoration.

To help you recap on this busy day of proceedings, we’ve pulled out eight of the major announcements from Egypt and Indonesia, as below.

We’ve also released a handy, updated edie Explains guide on business and biodiversity, in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Download your free copy here.

1) G20 leaders sign communique without ‘backsliding’ on 1.5C

Leaders including UN climate chief Simon Stiell and COP26 President Alok Sharma stated earlier this week that they were concerned about “backsliding” on the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C goal. Contributors included a report warning that there is now a 50% chance of 1.5C overshoot by 2030, the dash for gas in Africa and the use of more coal in some places amid the energy price crisis.

The G20 Summit, which wrapped up in Bali today, therefore provided some much-needed pep in the step for 1.5C. The final communique states a commitment to “fully implementing the Glasgow Climate Pact” with a specific reference to raising national action plans as necessary. The Pact was said the keep 1.5C “alive”, if on “life support”.

“We meet at a time of climate and energy crises, compounded by geopolitical challenges, we’re experiencing volatility in energy prices and markets and disruptions to energy supply,” the communique states. “We underline the urgency to rapidly transform and diversify energy systems, advance energy security and resilience and markets stability, by accelerating and ensuring clean, sustainable, just, affordable and inclusive energy transitions and flow of sustainable investments.

“We reiterate our commitment to achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by or around mind-Century while taking into account the latest scientific developments and different national circumstances.”

Also in Bali, China’s Xi Jinping held 1:1 meetings with Australia and the US on climate, providing hope for greater international collaboration between the highest emitting nations.

2) Potential breakthrough made on loss and damage

Loss and damage has proven to be a major sticking point at COP27. As expected, wealthy nations with high emissions footprints, including the US, New Zealand and EU member states, have pushed for talks to continue until 2024. China and the G77 have called for a formal agreement to be struck here and now.

A breakthrough came this afternoon, the Loss and Damage Collaboration reported, with all parties present agreeing that the Santiago Network now needs to be operationalised. The Network portal was first established at COP25 in 2019 and a call for submissions was made last year in Glasgow.

Crucial details are yet to be decided upon, but the agreement has increased hopes of securing a fund or facility before this COP concludes. Credit has also been given by campaign groups to the fact that parties have made an explicit reference to the fact that climate change is a human rights issue, with the rights of Indigenous communities in particular at risk.

3) We saw the launch of ENACT

Another day at COP27 means another new initiative from the Presidency with a fancy acronym to boot. Egypt, in partnership with NGO the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN), launched ‘Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for Climate Transformation’ today (16 November) –  ‘ENACT’ for short.

ENACT will convene national governments and sub-national actors in an effort to close the funding gap for nature-based climate adaptation and mitigation solutions, such as mangroves, natural flood management, forests and peatlands. Participants need to undertake work this decade.

ENACT’s overarching commitment is to ensure that sustainable management practices are implemented on an additional two billion hectares of ecosystems this decade; that 250 million hectares of ecosystems are restored and that conservation processes are enhanced on a further 45 million hectares.

Meeting these aims, the COP27 Presidency has stated, should improve climate resilience for at least one billion vulnerable people – provided that action is scaled in the appropriate regions. This ties in with the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda launched last week.

4) The Nature for Cool Cities Pledge was also launched

Also launching today was the Nature for Cool Cities Pledge, overseen by the Cool Coalition – a collaboration between NGOs and academics on a mission to ensure that, as cooling needs grow across the globe, sustainable cooling solutions are scaled up appropriately and implemented equitably.

The Pledge will convene cities in developing and emerging economies, supporting them to implement nature-based solutions for cooling with new funding and technical expertise. The participating cities will need to demonstrate “tangible” progress by 2025 and additional progress through to 2030. They will need to set time-bound, numerical targets.

As the world warms, cities are, by and large, likely to warm more rapidly and intensely than the regions, states and nations they lie within. This is due to buildings, pavement and concrete trapping heat, and to emissions from businesses and transport being higher in urban areas.

5) The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance expanded and announced international finance

The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, consisting of nations with end-dates for oil and gas extraction, announced new funding to support its ambitions on phasing out fossil fuels this morning.

The Alliance was launched at COP26 and is spearheaded by Costa Rica and Denmark. It has today confirmed initial support of $10m, which will be funnelled into developing nations. Philanthropic organisations including the Sequoia Climate Foundation are footing the majority of the bill.

It has also announced Fiji, Tuvalu, Kenya and the State of Washington, US, as new members, bringing the total membership to 19.

Satyendra Prasad, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN, said: “In our fight to tackle climate change; we in Blue Pacific now find ourselves in overtime zone. All sectors including oil and gas must be on our agenda for global action. Fiji will work in full solidarity with BOGA to speed up just transition away from oil and gas. The just transition cannot be at the expense of our just existence.”

In related news, a new report from Oil Change International assessed how the future and current pipeline of oil and gas projects could undermine global efforts to ‘keep 1.5C alive’.

The overall conclusion is that new oil and gas production approved to date in 2022, when combined with projects likely to be approved over the next three years, would lock in 70 billion tonnes of new GHG emissions. That’s equal to 17% of the world’s remaining 1.5C carbon budget.

6) WWF published a new report on the worrying state of the Amazon rainforest

It wouldn’t be a biodiversity-themed day without mention of the lungs of the earth, the Amazon rainforest. Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – commonly known as Lula – gave his public speeches in Sharm today and emphasised the importance of forest conservation and restoration to global climate efforts and to social wellbeing in his own nation.

A report out from WWF today warned that the Amazon could “cease to function” as a carbon-sequestering climate ecosystem within the next decade if deforestation and land-use change rates are not dramatically changed. The report says that the rainforest, the world’s largest, is “alarmingly close” to becoming permanently degraded and beyond restoration.

You can read edie’s full coverage of that report here. Carbon Brief has previously forecast that Jair Bolsonaro’s departure in Brazil could result in deforestation rates dropping 89% within a decade.

7) There was a standing ovation for Lula as hopes for the Amazon rainforest grow

There was standing room only in the Ibis room this afternoon at 5pm local time, as delegates gathered to hear from Brazilian president-elect Lula. Chants of “Ole, ole, ole, ola, Lula, Lula” echoed around the venue. Even the overflow room was full, edie has been told.

Lula did not mince his words once he finally got past the crowds. He said: “I would like to say to you all that Brazil is back. Brazil is back to resume its ties with the world and to once again fight hunger in the world. To cooperate once again with the poorest countries – above all in Africa – to cooperate with technology transfers to build a better future for our peoples.

“Although it is the continent with the lowest GHG emissions, Africa has drought. I repeat: nobody is safe.”

“We are back. We are back to help build a peaceful world order based on dialogue and multilateralism. The world of today is not the same as the world in 1945.”

He urged negotiators to reach strong agreements on nature and on loss and damage. He reiterated his pledge for Brazil to create a new council of Indigenous peoples and his wish for Brazil to host COP in the near future.

Joining Lula on stage were former Brazilian environment minister Marina Silva, rainforest exprts Carlos Nobre and Amazon Fund co-leader Tasso Nobre. The Fund, it was announced, will be re-started under Lula.

Brazil is seeking cooperation with Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo on forest conservation, as these are the three largest forest nations in the world. Between them, they host more than half of the world’s primary forests.

8) The spotlight was shone on blue carbon and ocean resilience

There have been lots of side events and smaller announcements on blue carbon this week – blue carbon being CO2e that is sequestered in marine and coastal ecosystems.

One key announcement has been the creation of the High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance. These resources outline what constitutes a high-quality blue carbon project and how common pitfalls that could undermine credibility, like double-counting, pre-emptive accounting and accounting for non-permanent removals, can be overcome. This credibility will be crucial as the market for blue carbon credits scales, with investors and end-user businesses alike showing increased interest. The resources build on the World Economic Forum’s five principles for scaling effective blue carbon solutions, published last week.

One major investor in blue carbon is Amazon (the e-commerce giant, not the forest). Amazon this week announced the establishment of an International Blue Carbon Institute, with support from Conservation International and the Singapore Economic Development Board. It will serve as a knowledge-building hub on the topic and Amazon will provide up to $3m in grant funding for these academic efforts over a three-year period.

Click here to read all of edie’s COP27 content.

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