Business Climate Community Development

COP27 compromise brings hope and heartbreak


David Thomas, Editor, African Business Magazine

The Cop27 climate summit at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt closed earlier this week with a flagship agreement among richer countries to fund a “loss and damage” fund for vulnerable nations hit by climate change.

The announcement is an important victory for Africa, as Mohamed Adow, executive director at climate action organisation Power Shift Africa, recognised. “Cop27 has done what no other Cop has achieved and created a loss and damage fund to support the most impacted communities of climate change… something which vulnerable countries have been calling for since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.”

But the announcement of the fund is just a start – what is needed is to fill the “empty bucket” with rich world money. In this respect, the new processes to hold wealthy countries to their promises are vital – previous pledges of $100bn a year in adaptation cash have not been implemented. Elsewhere, there was disappointment.

UN secretary-general António Guterres rued a lack of agreement on stricter emissions targets to reach the global goal of temperature rises of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. “A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.”

As Guterres says, it is right that Africa should receive compensation for loss and damage. But the continent also needs protection from its principal cause – the global addiction to fossil fuels.

Here, major polluters have merely “copied and pasted” the outcome from Cop26, says Adow. “The science is clear, the impacts are getting worse and we know that renewables are the future. Polluting countries need to leave coal, oil, and gas in the ground if we’re going to keep global heating from running out of control.”

So despite evident progress, the world must meet again in 2023, when it is hoped that the enormity of the catastrophe facing the planet will at last sink in.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende