It is now nearly 6 months since COP27 took place in Egypt. The outcomes of the conference were met with mixed reactions and the conference itself was somewhat overshadowed by other events taking place in Egypt at the same time, namely the treatment of protestors. However, several landmark decisions regarding climate action were taken, including the historic confirmation of a loss and damage fund for developing nations. You can refresh your memory on the events that took place over the two week conference here.
In a few short months, the world will be gearing up for COP28 in Dubai. But are these events succeeding in bringing about change? In the following article, the Institute will explore what progress has been made since the last conference took place; in terms of specific actions such as the loss and damage fund and more generally in the fight against climate change.
The Loss and Damage Fund
Hailed as the crucial outcome of COP27 and a major turning point in climate finance, the loss and damage fund pledged to provide the developing nations bearing the brunt of climate change, with a global fund to help them survive the disasters and changes brought about by increasing temperatures.
The early stages of the fund were hindered somewhat by a delay in creating a committee to oversee the operational steps needed to turn pledges into actions. Nominations for the committee had a deadline of mid-December 2022; however, 6 weeks later, only 10 of the 28 members had been selected.
Considering the promise to have the fund operating before the end of 2023, this was worrying and suggested a lack of urgency behind the project. As of early February, there were still nations yet to assign committee members including several developed nations who had initially voted to block the loss and damage fund at COP27.
However, towards the end of March 2023, the full committee was appointed and clear signs of progress were seen with the first meeting of the Transitional Committee on Loss and Damage. The committee is made up from 28 members in total, 14 of which are from developing countries and 10 are from developed countries.
Hosted by the Egyptian COP Presidency, the meeting took place over 3 days, 27th-29th March 2023. The UN hailed the meeting as a success, citing that a clear plan and steps towards success were agreed upon. The UN also outlined their belief that following this plan will gradually allow the committee to achieve a consensus one month ahead of COP28.
Three further meetings of the Transitional Committee are scheduled to take place before COP28 and the role of the Committee over the next few months has been outlined by the Egyptian COP Presidency as follows:
- Institutional arrangements, modalities, structure, governance, and terms of reference for the fund
- The elements of the new funding arrangements
- Identifying and expanding sources of funding
- Coordination and complementarity with existing funding arrangements
Despite some early setbacks, the above suggests clear progress on this key pledge from COP27. The news that the fund should be operational within the next 6 months is particularly positive and the Renewable Energy Institute looks forward to hearing details of further progress made at COP28.
In terms of climate finance more generally, there seems to be a lot further to go before goals are met. Analysis from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) states that trillions of dollars are required annually in order to finance global adaptation and mitigation goals. As of February 2023, 630 billion dollars a year are being spent on climate finance. As, the global economic situation has not improved greatly in 2023, boosting this number by nearly 400 billion dollars is not a simple task.
In the absence of clear action, discussions of the subject are taking place. In late February 2023, the IMF’s Deputy Managing Director, Bo Li, led a group forum on ‘Scaling up Climate Finance for Emerging Markets and Developing Economies.’ During this forum he outlined the following as priorities:
- Redirect investment flows from high-carbon projects to climate friendly opportunities
- Build capacity by strengthening public financial management relating to climate projects
- Secure innovative financial mechanisms including de-risking instruments and a broader investor base
While it is crucial that discussions take place regularly regarding climate finance, progression in this area is clearly less pronounced than the more specific loss and damage fund and it may not be until COP28 or beyond that we see evidence of progress with climate financing more generally.
The 1.5 Degree Target
COP27 opened with a stark warning from António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, that we were on a ‘highway to climate hell’ if we could not limit global warming. After 6 months, it is perhaps unlikely to expect clear evidence of securing this limit, however, recent studies have shown that we are even further from achieving this than we may have thought.
By charting various different models of action, including models based on pledges made at previous COPs, predictions from climate scientists as of late January 2023 suggest we are more likely to exceed 2 degrees warming, with a 70% likelihood of this taking place by 2050. A number of these models included a significant reduction on carbon emissions but still resulted in global warming above 1.5 degrees, suggesting that the pledges of COP27 and previous COPS may have been far too late.
Leading Climate Scientist Noah Diffenbaugh argued that we should not assume that the target cannot be met but suggested that in order to reach the goal, we had to reach net zero on a global scale, which in his words is ‘a big ship to turn around.’ 
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in March 2023, agrees with the above results, claiming that global warming is currently on track to exceed 2 degrees. However, it also suggests that while we may temporarily exceed the 1.5 degree target in the short term, the action agreed upon will allow us to eventually bring warming back down over subsequent years.
“In order to reach a temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, emissions need to peak before 2025 and be reduced by around 43% by 2030.”– Nan Zhou, Berkeley Lab senior staff scientist, Energy Technologies Area
In order to see progress on this, significant change would be required in a very short space of time and is therefore highly unlikely. Nevertheless, the scientific models are worrying. While we are unlikely to see progress in a matter of months, or even by the next Conference of the Parties, the Institute will be looking for discussion on this topic to be a significant part of the programme at COP28.
Reducing Methane Emissions
Decarbonisation is usually the main focus of averting further global warming. However, methane emissions also play a significant role in this and need to be addressed in tandem with carbon emissions. Scientists have estimated that a drastic reduction in methane emissions alone could reduce global warming by half a degree.
At COP27, the US pledged to invest $20 billion in order to reduce methane emissions across the country by 87% by the end of 2030. In March 2023, the US Department of Energy released funding for 22 research projects designed to detect and reduce methane emissions. According to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, “The projects…will help DOE accelerate the deployment of technology that detects and reduces methane emissions across the oil and gas sector, our largest source of industrial methane, leading to long-lasting health and environmental benefits for communities across the country.”
The UK Government has previously pledged to cut methane emissions by 50% by 2030, however recent studies by Green Alliance suggest current policy and actions will result in just a 14% decrease. In addition, recent decisions will actively increase methane emissions, such as plans to authorise a new coal mine in England.
The new mine will not only work against decarbonisation but is expected to emit as much methane per year as 120,000 cows. Not to mention 250 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 30 years. 
Therefore, global action on reducing methane levels is somewhat mixed. While the decisions of the UK government are concerning and suggest a distinct lack of urgency, the projects being funded by the US could signal a significant step forward in future methods of reducing emissions.
It would not be realistic to expect to see huge progress on climate action over a matter of months. However, progress still obviously remains somewhat slow, and key policy makers remain seemingly unwilling to make the changes needed to reach climate targets. Currently, the target of constraining global warming under 1.5 degrees does not seem within reach without massive industrial and societal change. We can only hope that COP28 will be the turning point at which this is realised.
In the meantime we can take heart in the creation of the loss and damage fund committee; a tangible step towards the fund actively providing for developing countries.
A Look Ahead to COP28
COP28 will take place in Dubai, slightly later than previous COPs, from 30th November -12th December 2023.
Early indications suggest that the level of controversy seen at COP28 may also be present here, based on the U.A.E’s track record with oil and gas as well as the appointment of head of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company as the COP President.
However, the Institute hopes that we will see positive change come from the conference. We look forward to bringing you our coverage of COP28 later this year. Keep an eye on our website, social media and weekly emails in November for more.
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