November 22, 2022
Final reflections on this year’s summit for the 27th United Nations’ meeting of the Conference of the Parties
Going nearly two days beyond their scheduled deadline, World leaders at the United Nations climate summit (COP27) delivered a final deal this past Sunday, which included a breakthrough step forward, a troubling side-step, and an urgent climate call to action for the year ahead.
Progress to Address Uneven Climate Consequences
In a remarkable turnaround following around-the-clock negotiations, the final decision text agreed to establish a “breakthrough” fund for vulnerable countries experiencing devastating impacts from the climate crisis. The 20 highest income countries produce about 80% of the world’s emissions every year, while low-income countries produce little heat-trapping pollution, but suffer the most. The “loss and damage” financing has been the major call from climate vulnerable countries and was the major focus of our faith-rooted advocacy at this COP. In the hallways, in meetings with negotiators, and in our public witness, Church and Society – in solidarity with frontline community leaders – advocated for loss and damage financing.
No Movement on Global Fossil Fuel Dependence
At the same time, world leaders side-stepped a decision on the key drivers of climate change. They did not agree to phase down the use of fossil fuels such oil, gas and coal, which account for the vast majority of planet warming pollution. Their unwillingness to course-correct keeps emissions on a path that will result in global temperatures to rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Experts are predicting the world is on a path to hit almost double that level of warming by the end of the century – almost assuredly locking in future destructive climate impacts.
The Bottom Line: We Now Have a Clear Path to Act
There is an ambition gap. The difference between current policies and what is needed, offers climate justice advocates a clear roadmap for our work in the year ahead. Between now and next December’s COP28, we must impress upon our elected officials the moral call for bolder climate action. We must nurture the fragile spark of political will displayed at COP27 and build a broader and deeper consensus for funding for loss and damage. In the United States, we must continue to press our elected officials to take action now! In addition, all countries must work for stronger commitments that transition actions toward a cleaner, renewable, and more equitable energy future.
The words of the COP27 decision text, like the statements of our General Conference in the Book of Resolutions, are necessary but insufficient. They lay out the vision but it must be paired with concrete actions. We must bring life to that vision by ensuring all parties fulfill and strengthen their pledges. That is our climate advocacy work in the year ahead.