Comments by Nicholas Stern and Bob Ward on final outcome of the COP27 UN climate change summit in Egypt

Posted on 20 Nov 2022 in

Commenting on the final outcome agreed today of the COP27 United Nations climate change summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“This outcome has been strongly negotiated over the past few days, following months of preparations. It is not unusual for the negotiations to extend beyond their scheduled finish, as the final outcome has to be reached by consensus among more than 190 countries. The most contentious issue was on funding to address the loss and damage caused by climate change impacts in poor countries in Africa and around the world. This is an important agreement, and I am glad that a way forward was found. It is important that finance is found quickly and at scale to help poor countries across all of their activities, including cutting emissions and protecting against and responding to the impacts of climate change.

“There were some other important announcements outside the negotiation process, including the launch of India’s Long-Term Low-Carbon Development Strategy, the Global Shield against Climate Risks insurance initiative for poor countries, and the Africa Carbon Markets Initiative. The private sector had a strong presence, working to foster the conditions and finance for new clean investment opportunities. The G20 summit, which took place in Bali during the second week of COP27, also delivered a boost to international climate efforts with the launch of Indonesia’s Just Energy Transition Partnership, backed by the United States and other rich countries. The summit also provided an opportunity for President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden to announce the resumption of the formal dialogue on climate change between the world’s two largest emitters.

“Looking forward to the year ahead, I hope more countries will come forward ahead of COP28 in Dubai with strengthened pledges for cutting emissions. We cannot cut emissions without a strong increase in investment in clean energy, transport and industry. The investments will also generate a new and attractive form of economic growth and development that is sustainable, resilient and inclusive. These investments will be made mainly by the private sector, but will not occur without strong policy and greatly increased flows of capital at affordable cost. That in turn requires a major expansion of external finance from a range of sources, including the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, as we highlighted in the report of the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance. The Group was co-chaired by Vera Songwe and me, with Executive Secretary Amar Bhattacharya, and commissioned by the Presidencies of COP26 and COP27 as well as the United Nations climate champions. The report outlines how the necessary external finance can be mobilised to invest in emerging market and developing countries to meet the needs of a just transition to clean energy, to protect against and respond to the loss and damage caused by the growing impacts of climate change, and to enhance and restore land and nature.”

Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“This was a difficult summit and required significant compromises from both rich and poor countries. The outcome preserved many of the commitments made last year in Glasgow, including the target of limit warming to 1.5 Celsius degrees. It is deeply disappointing, however, that the current pledges made by countries in their nationally determined contributions for cuts in emissions by 2030 are collectively still much weaker than required to give ourselves a reasonable chance of staying with the 1.5 Celsius degrees threshold. It seems increasingly likely that the world will need to use carbon dioxide removal and carbon capture, utilisation and storage to keep within the limit of 1.5 Celsius degrees by the end of this century, but fortunately there has been some major progress in reducing the costs of these technologies. But the world is still going to pay a heavy price for being too slow to recognise and act to avoid the risks of climate change. The impacts will continue to grow over the next few decades until the world reaches net zero annual emissions of greenhouse gases. The slower we move, the greater the costs.”