1. Little progress was made on reducing emissions, despite the drive at COP26
Last year at the climate summit in Glasgow, countries promised to strengthen their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) with the goal to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global warming below 1.5°C before 2030, and below 2°C by the end of the century, as per the Paris Agreement.
However, according to the Climate Change Committee’s report, actions to back these targets remain limited, with assessments of present policies suggesting the world will see around 2.5 - 2.7°C of warming by the end of the century.
The report notes that some progress was made, for example with the Global Methane Pledge that saw added signatories and some countries strengthening their targets. However, the watchdog also notes that some shortcomings remain, with the UK’s Methane Memorandum not outlining the UK’s contribution to the overall Global Methane Pledge. The CCC said that the UK must assess its own emissions ambitions, make sure to define its commitments to these pledges, and implement its net zero strategy.
2. The UK did make progress on pushing two partnerships at COP27
The CCC noted that a win for the UK at COP27 included the UK COP26 presidency’s role in brokering the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership following on from work undertaken in Glasgow.
The UK also launched the Accelerating to Zero Coalition (A2Z), which has over 10 Signatories, and according to the report is a “credible” plan for implementing the transition to Zero Emissions Vehicles.
3. Nature-based solutions made their spotlight debut
According to the CCC, at this year’s COP there was increased emphasis on how nature-based solutions can boost climate and biodiversity.
This was referenced in the COP27 political decision for the first time on how countries can boost their mitigation and adaptation efforts.
4. Impact of climate change on food supply was acknowledged
The COP27 cover decision acknowledged the impact of climate change on food security for the first time, according to the CCC.
5. Adaptation remains a blind spot
The UNEP Adaptation Gap report, which was published ahead of the conference, found that international adaptation finance flows are five to ten times below estimated needs. The CCC report concluded that the UK must assess what it can do both at home and overseas to support climate change adaptation. It said that the UK currently has a “weak response” to climate adaptation, and must strengthen this in its National Adaptation Programme, which is due in 2023.
6. The building blocks for a loss and damage fund were set up
Although details for the new loss and damage fund, where richer nations will pay compensation to developing nations for their contribution to climate change, have still not been completely agreed on, the CCC notes that this was a particular breakthrough at the conference.
The report also highlights that it was agreed that the Glasgow Dialogue on Loss and Damage will be extended to 2024.
7. More progress was made on Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs)
At COP26 the UK was among the countries who announced the first JETP, with a joint statement at COP27 setting out what that would entail. At G20, the UK again joined countries to support Indonesia with decarbonisation. The UK is also supporting talks to agree a partnership with Vietnam this year.
The CCC emphasised that these partnerships are important to blend public and private finance with a "targeted focus on high-impact energy transitions”.
8. To demonstrate leadership, the UK “needs to lead by example”
Since leaving the EU, the UK now has to take on negotiations independently. The CCC highlighted that “Future COPs are an opportunity for the UK to define its standalone position in UNFCCC negotiations and its role in initiatives outside the COP process”.
The CCC criticised the government for its failure to meet its own statutory deadline for creating environmental targets, as part of the Environment Act. It suggested that the delayed 2030 Strategic Framework (the government’s vision for the UK’s long-term international role tackling climate change and biodiversity loss) would be a good opportunity for the UK to set how it will help the world achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
COP27: Key outcomes and next steps for the UK is available here.