COP27 – the Work Needed

Grant Brown, Founder, Happy Eco News

COP27, 6-18 November 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, is a highly anticipated follow-up to the Glasgow event last year. Lost time due to war in Europe and the resulting economic chaos means the purpose of COP must change. The political side of COP must end, and the action side of COP must take over.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels

One of the most important achievements of COP26 in Glasgow was the finalization of the “Paris Agreement rulebook”. This part of the agreement defines how countries and businesses will be monitored and reviewed for delivering on their national climate action targets. In my opinion, this might be the most important outcome of COP26 as it provides a single set of clear rules that must be adhered to. There is no negotiation of a simple rulebook. 

A rulebook helps us track who is living up to their commitments and how they plan to meet them. This helps the countries, the private sector and the world do the work. A lost year due to a completely avoidable war only makes the rulebook even more important than ever. The Russian invasion of Ukraine forced many countries to backpedal on pledges due to concerns about energy security. Increased, so-called temporary investments in dirty fuels to bridge the gap only means that we need to push harder and make more gains – with less time. Missing our climate targets is just not an option. 

The time for work is now, but some in the media and maybe even in a few government committees are stuck in the past as if the COP meetings are still just a junket for bilateral negotiations. If they ever were before, those days are now over. COP must now be about empowering and/or pressuring all nations toward emissions reduction goals that were negotiated 7 years ago in Paris. Certainly, there will be some compromise required over the details, especially on achieving the huge finances required to enable these reductions, but the actual numbers are set. We know how much money is needed. We know how much carbon must be prevented from entering the atmosphere. We know how long we have left. 

No government or representative can ignore the floods, fires, and record droughts of the last five years. Everyone knows these events are just beginning, some might say they are a harbinger of things to come. Climate can not be negotiated to begin on a date in five or ten years, and they can not be stopped when they come early. The work needs to begin now, which requires only one thing; work. 

COP events have huge financial and political backing. Some of the brightest minds on the planet will be in attendance. We need to focus these minds and the power they represent on the task at hand. We need to put resources where they are needed and let the process continue. Not only do the governments need resources allocated to do the work, but businesses must also do their part. 

“Market mechanisms and non-market approaches” was another critical part of COP26 that must be expanded upon in 2022 at COP27. The document makes it easier for countries to come together and trade emissions reductions, allowing a developing nation to maintain economic growth and a more developed, cleaner economy to absorb some of their reduction targets.

This part of the agreement also provides incentives for the private sector to invest in climate-friendly solutions critical to the overall success or failure to meet climate goals. If the world is to curb emissions, we need the private sector to fully and wholeheartedly join in the movement. Nobody doubts these organizations are immensely powerful and wealthy and will always work toward whatever is in the best interest of their shareholders. If they deem it is in the best interest of shareholders to stymie action on climate change, then they will make every effort to deny, obfuscate and prevent the action from happening. Lawsuits, lobbyists, finance, and public opinion campaigns will all focus on this end. But if they are properly incentivized, they will do the work, and nobody gets better results than a properly motivated entrepreneur. 

What we need to see from COP27 is the work. We urgently need the implementation of detailed plans and the funding to allow them to flourish. We need to get the politics and negotiations out of the way and let the good people do the good things they need to do. 

The best time to plant a tree was yesterday, the second best is today. Take action today. 

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