Reflecting on COP27's loss and damage fund agreement

13 December 2022 by Andy Cartland
blog author

Talk of progression and urgent solutions reverberated throughout the COP27 crowd, during the long-drawn-out summit, as leaders made a desperate bid to clinch climate deals.

Delegates from 190 countries gathered for the global climate conference in Egypt to discuss the required action to effect climate change adaptation, climate finance and decarbonisation. However, the event in Sharm-el-Sheikh overran by several days (making it the third longest COP in history) as leaders battled to thrash out agreements, giving cause for disheartenment in the wake of COP27 by the lack of certainty surrounding how progress can be accelerated.

The Loss and Damage Fund

The biggest turning point at the UN summit was the agreement to create the urgently needed loss and damage fund, a historic outcome which will see rich nations pay poorer countries for the damage and economic losses inflicted by climate change.

While finance had already been made available to reduce carbon and support countries in adapting to rising temperatures, there had been no specific funds in place for those countries that lost everything, until now.

The summer flood disaster in Pakistan, for example, killed 1,739 people and caused £12bn in damage and a similar amount in economic losses. COP27 marked the importance of rebuilding a stark lack of trust, via the launch of the new fund among vulnerable countries, who, like Pakistan, are bitterly affected by climate change.

During the two-week conference, countries strengthened their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels) as outlined in the landmark Paris Agreement, through a collection of decisions. This included the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate change impacts, and boosting the support of finance, technology and capacity building needed by developing countries.

The Global Methane Pledge

With the IPCC’s urgent reminder that global emissions must decline 45 per cent by 2030 to keep this limit alive, global emissions must peak by 2025.

Disappointingly, fossil fuels (excluding coal) weren’t curbed this year, but the Global Methane Pledge gained pace. More than 150 countries signed up for the global pact which was launched at last year’s COP in Glasgow by the US and EU.

While Russia, China and India did not sign up to the pledge, despite the latter two being the top methane emitters, 50 signatories have unveiled detailed strategies to cut methane emissions, with 95 per cent of countries including methane in their NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions).

Moving Forward

With the clock ticking to make tangible progress, momentum remains slow, and holding out for a COP28 miracle isn’t an option. The Wall Street Journal summed up COP27 by saying: “It is, in essence, a laundry list of ideas with lots of internal contradictions, making negotiations a formidable challenge.”

Innovative solutions and collaboration are crucial in striking success to meet the climate target, and financial markets play a vital part in helping achieve the transition towards net zero goals. They have developed new innovations to build on products, such as green bonds and sustainability-linked loans, with new nature-based ideas added to the mix. This includes ‘debt-for-nature’ deals, which allow countries with debt problems to ease their difficulties in exchange for nature conservation. 

As a partner with global movement Ocean Generation, Acre was heartened to see a focus on ocean-based climate action, with countries being strongly encouraged to ‘blue’ their NDCs.

Acre's Thoughts

Andy Cartland, Founder and Interim Managing Director - APAC, stated that,

COP27 didn't serve to enhance my optimism. With a build-up that promised actions over insight, I fear that we haven’t quite hit the mark.

But, when we look at all major transformational change in history, we know that it only happens when a force acts upon it. That force, I’m observing, is increasingly building in today's and tomorrow’s sustainability leaders. Leaders who are making significant strides in the right direction on a daily basis; not just advocating for change, but finding ways to embed it back into the bottom line of their businesses.

Perhaps a lack of tangible actions is serving us well. It’s stirring an impatience in the people on the ground, and a thirst for meaningful results. Through efforts like the loss and damage fund agreement, it’s generating visible layers of accountability that can no longer be ignored. For that, I feel optimistic. For that, more than ever, I feel energised by the opportunity to create systemic change for our planet and society by activating people’s potential.

Andy founded Acre in 2003. Today, he continues to drive our commercial growth forward and our commitment to creating systemic change for our planet and society by activating people's potential. He works closely with our delivery, marketing, and support teams to ensure that Acre's services offer our global client base with the most effective recruitment and talent development solutions possible. In August 2022, he relocated to Singapore as part of Acre's expansion into Asia Pacific, and alongside our dedicated team, he will help to maximise our impact across the region.

Andy's dedication to Acre being the leading sustainability recruitment business globally has seen the company grow year-on-year at a rate that has drastically outperformed the wider recruitment sector. In 2014, the business was awarded Recruitment Agency of the Year at the UK Recruiter Awards for innovation, transparency and positive disruption. In 2020, we were also awarded Sustainable Agency of the Year.

Andy was formerly deputy chair of Global Action Plan: an environmental change charity, and is a trustee and director with the NGO, Ocean Generation.

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