Trust ‘breakdown’ between North and South and EV transitions: Seven things you need to know from Solutions Day at COP27

Images: UN Climate Change - Kiara Worth

We’re in the endgame now. There’s a little over 24 hours of scheduled negotiations in Egypt before the curtain comes down on COP27. It is highly likely that negotiations will be extended, despite the COP Presidency claiming that things can get wrapped up on Friday.

But as negotiators tweak the very succinct language of the draft documents at COP27, Solutions Day delivered a number of notable, well, solutions, with a key focus on electric vehicles and urban development.

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

1) Guterres pushes for strong final agreement, delivered to time

An updated version of the draft cover texts for this COP were published late on Wednesday (16 November) and, well into today, green policy hawks and climate justice campaigners were poring over every last detail on social media and in press briefings. A number of major gaps remain, it is widely agreed, yet the Egyptian COP presidency is pushing for a timely finish to negotiations.

With this in mind, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – fresh back from the G20 Summit in Bali – is imploring negotiators to find common ground yet reach an ambitious agreement.

He said: “There is clearly a breakdown in trust between North and South, and between developed and emerging economies. This is no time for finger pointing. The blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction. I am here to appeal to all parties to rise to this moment and to the greatest challenge facing humanity.

“The world is watching and has a simple message: stand and deliver. Deliver the kind of kind of meaningful climate action that people and planet so desperately need.”

This is typically strong stuff from Guterres, who stated at the beginning of this COP that the “world is on a highway to climate hell with its foot on the accelerator”. His specific calls to action were for a strong agreement on loss and damage and measures to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory. Before Guterres spoke, the COP27 presidency postponed a planned media briefing and talk on the paper.

2) Update provided on Glasgow’s Zero Emissions Vehicles Declaration

Today’s Presidency programme theme was solutions, and transport-related solutions were certainly in the spotlight. The UK Government has provided its first annual update on the Zero Emissions Vehicles Declaration, one year after it launched at COP26 in Glasgow.

It confirmed that a total of 214 new signatories have joined the declaration. This will require them to develop plans to end the sale of light vehicles which are not zero-emission by 2035 in leading markets, and 2040 elsewhere.

Measures were also outlined to create a financial and technical support package for emerging and developing economies looking to set, meet and increase their zero-emission vehicle ambitions. The UK, US, Germany, Sweden, South Korea and the Netherlands are participating. This will be supported by a new Rapid Response Facility, which will provide funding to address the “short-term, urgent technical assistance needs” of emerging and developing market governments.

You can read our full story on all the updates on the Declaration here.

3) Egypt also focuses on just, global EV transition

The Egyptian COP27 Presidency also seems to be placing a lot of weight on transport-related solutions today, which is welcome, given that transport generates around one-quarter of annual global emissions.

Egypt has launched a new challenge on ‘Low-Carbon Transport for Urban Sustainability’, or LOTUS for short. The challenge is all about transforming urban mobility systems in a way that decreases reliance on individual ICE vehicles and decarbonises public transport.

LOTUS has identified five systemic challenges to progress in this area – the financing gap; weak policymaking; a lack of policy coherence; siloed thinking and difficulty regulating informal transport operators.It wants to see “transformative” and collaborative action to “activate systemic change”.

You can find full details on LOTUS here.

And, in related news, the Collective for Clean Transport Finance was launched by a coalition including the High-Level Climate Champions and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The Collective will measure the risk profile of investment in zero-emission transport projects and intervene strategically to help reduce risk.

4) Steelmakers convene to create low-carbon standards

Building on the big announcements on bringing down cleantech costs from last week, a group comprising some of the world’s largest steel manufacturers today formed a new coalition – the Global Steel Climate Council (GSCC). As of launch, it had 14 supporters from the US and eight from Europe

The primary focus of the GSCC will be creating a ‘gold standard’ for low-carbon steelmaking, setting strict emissions ‘ceilings’ that will compel manufacturers and supply chains to decarbonise rapidly by improving efficiencies and circularity while investing in emerging technologies. The Council will push governments including those in the US and EU to formally adopt the standard for public procurement and, in the longer-term, make it mandatory.

We are now almost two years on from the launch of The Climate Group’s SteelZero, a separate collaborative initiative aligning and growing the supply and demand of low-carbon and net-zero steel.

5) Spotlight shone on urban resilience

There was much focus on climate adaptation and mitigation in cities and other urban areas today, marking a nice follow-up to the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda last week. The UN has stated that cities are currently home to 55% of the global population, with this proportion likely to increase to almost 70% by 2050.

The Race to Resilience initiative announced sign-ups from 17 new cities and regions across India and Bangladesh, collectively representing more than 180 million residents. India is currently restricting wheat exports, following an outright ban earlier this year, partly due to unusually early and intense heatwave. March 2022 was the hottest in India in more than 120 years. More than 200 days this year, India has been experiencing heatwave days. As for Bangladesh, flooding and then a cyclone hit in October, following previous floods in the northeast in June.

The COP27 presidency launched another initiative with an acronym – SURGe, or Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation. Egypt is running this one along with UN Havitat and ICLE – a network of more than 2,500 local and regional governments. Through SURGe, cities are invited to share targets and co-create a holistic programme of delivery for climate adaptation in urban areas. The scheme will work with governments, the private sector and multilateral development banks to facilitate finance access.

SURGe focus areas include decarbonisation, climate adaptation, reaching nature-positivity, preserving culture and promoting human and biodiversity health.

UN Habitat, ICLEI and the COP27 Presidency team hoses the first Ministerial meeting exclusively dedicated to urbanisation and climate today.

6) Green Shipping Corridors progress revealed as online hub launches

Shipping has historically been an afterthought at previous COPs, set aside to form its own climate commitment after the ratification of the Paris Agreement, the sector has slowly edged its way into the climate conversation and is finally getting a more prominent seat at the table for UN discussions.

At COP26, nations unveiled a green shipping initiative aimed at driving decarbonise across the sector. The ‘Clydebank Declaration’ unites 20 nations in developing zero-emission shipping routes between ports. These so-called ‘green shipping corridors’ will act as a test-bed for emerging technologies. Bodies such as the Global Maritime Forum and World Economic Forum are foreseeing that a mix of technologies will be needed for low-carbon shipping, including hydrogen, ammonia, methanol and electrification.

The aim is to establish at least six corridors by the mid-2020s, which are likely to be shorter routes, and to add “many more routes”, including long-haul routes, by 2030.

At COP27, the Green Shipping Corridors’ annual progress report was released, following news from the first week that the UK, US, Norway and the Netherlands would be the first nations to commit to operating green shipping corridors and maritime links.

The progress report touts the creation of the online “Green Shipping Corridor Hub” by the Zero-emission Shipping Mission. It’s the first online hub to outline the development of the corridors. It can currently be used to track routes and explore the planned green corridors and offers an interactive map to enable interested stakeholders to find collaborative partners. The Hub will also store reports, blueprints and case studies related to the initiative.

7) Dozens of businesses forge new commitment to climate-resilient water and sanitation

In truth, Solutions Day didn’t draw up many tangible solutions or deliver any landmark breakthroughs. But as world leaders continue to negotiate, businesses and NGOs continue to declare their desire to deliver a sustainable future.

This was seen through the WASH4Work initiative, which with the participation of Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), released a declaration at the climate summit COP27. The declaration is focused on supporting actions to increase climate resilience in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

The declaration has been supported by more than 25 businesses, including WSP, AB InBev, Danone and Heineken, and 15 WASH expert organisations. The aim of the declaration is to reiterate a commitment to corporate water stewardship across the globe.

The signatories claim that the initiative will build towards Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation and SDG 13: Climate Action, with a goal of enabling millions of people to become more water secure and climate resilient by 2030.

“As global businesses we will leverage our broad reach and influence to help advocate for climate resilient WASH actions in partnership with global and local stakeholders,” the declaration states.

“We, as the WASH4Work initiative, invite more businesses to join us in this COP27 declaration, to mobilize the leadership and partnership needed to shape a more climate resilient water, sanitation and hygiene secure world.”

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