Keeping the conversation going: reflections on COP-27

by Kennedy Karanja*

The Sustainable Growth and Green Transition workstream of the World Federalist Movement’s Transnational Working Group on AU-EU affairs, the Young World Federalists chapter in East Africa, and the Strathmore Energy Research Centre, with other partners, invited members of civil society, private sector and academia to deliberate the outcomes of the COP-27 Summit that took place in Egypt in 2022. The theme of the event was ‘Keeping the Conversation Going.’

The 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) took place from November 6 to November 20, 2022, and featured high-level and side events, key negotiations, and press conferences, as well as more than 100 Heads of State and Government, over 35,000 participants, and numerous pavilions showcasing climate action from around the world and across various sectors.
Climate action has become increasingly urgent in recent years, as evidenced in the COP27 plan. Notably, after years of talks and debates, global climate action has progressed from goal setting to execution. The Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan resolves to execute bold, just, fair, and inclusive transitions to low-emission and climate-resilient growth.
The event was held virtually on February 20, 2023, from 4pm to 6pm UTC. The participants engaged in stimulating discussions on the opportunities, promises, prospects, and perils of executing the Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan. In particular, the meeting focused on five key areas of intervention included in the resolutions of the Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan. The five pillars that guided our discussions were:

1. Climate Finance
To provide resources to developing nations, COP-27 created the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Global Climate Fund (GCF). The COP27 could not completely address developed countries' promise to provide $100 billion in aid to developing countries each year.
COP27 also created a loss and damage fund to mitigate the effects of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to, or when alternatives exist but a community lacks the means to acquire or use them. USD $3.1 billion for loss and damage has been earmarked for the next five years, with funds to be available by COP28. COP-27 recognized a 5.9 trillion USD finance imbalance among developing countries in executing their regionally decided contributions and advocated for a global approach to changes in the international financial system to address challenges of accessing climate finance. In fact, developing countries would need to spend $2.4 trillion every year on climate-related problems by 2030, half of which would have to be funded domestically.

2. Youth and Future Generations
COP-27 recognized the essential role of youth and children as change agents in addressing and reacting to climate change as part of the push to promote involvement by non-state actors. COP-27 urged states to include children and youth in their processes for developing and implementing climate policy and action, and to consider including young representatives and negotiators in their national delegations as appropriate, recognizing the importance of intergenerational equity and ensuring the stability of the climate system for future generations.

3. Decarbonization
Climate Mitigation was addressed at COP-27, with a demand for joint action to reduce pollution into the atmosphere and the quantity of carbon dioxide (CO2) by improving sinks. COP-27 urged nations to "revisit and reinforce" their climate commitments in order to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 through rapid, deep, and persistent reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions of 43% below the 2019 level.

4. Gender inclusion
To raise climate ambition and achieve climate goals, COP-27 encouraged countries to increase women's full, meaningful, and equal participation in climate action, as well as to ensure gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation, including by fully implementing the Lima work programme on gender and its gender action plan.

5. Energy management
This information is contained in Chapter III of the Sharm el-Sheikh execution plan. The resolutions in this part advocate for a just transition of our energy systems, including diversification of renewable energy sources, as well as the creation, sharing, and acceptance of technologies. According to Chapter IX of the execution plan, approximately USD 4 trillion per year must be spent in renewable energy until 2030 in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and a worldwide transition to a low-carbon economy is anticipated to require at least USD 4-6 trillion per year.

The agenda of the event included the following speakers:
Kennedy Karanja, the Lead organizer of the event, gave an opening address in which he set the parameters of the discussion, based on the Sharm el-Sheikh implementation plan.

John Vlasto, the Chair of the Executive Board of the World Federalist Movement and Institute for Global Policy, gave the keynote address. He discussed the need for a coordinated global governance to tackle climate change. He highlighted his efforts in establishing the ‘Mobilizing an Earth Governance Alliance’ (MEGA) project in collaboration with Maja Groff, Convener of the Climate Governance Commission, and his bid to create a ‘coalition of the willing’ of civil society organizations to make climate global governance more inclusive.

Guido Montani, professor of International Political Economy at the Pavia University, Italy, called for AU-EU cooperation, talked about his proposal for a European Global Green Deal, and addressed the need for reforms in the financial system to improve access to climate financing for developing countries.

Juuso Jarviniemi, the Vice president of the Young European Federalists (JEF) advocated for federalisation as the ideal approach to tackling climate change and resolving the present deadlock in climate negotiations and explained the possible impacts of the Loss and Damage Fund in climate mitigation and adaptation.

Gerance Mutwol, Youth Lead at One Planet and former Greenpeace activist, briefly talked about his experience as a grassroots climate activist.

Kuria Karanja, from the Strathmore Energy Research Institute, demonstrated how Strathmore University (Kenya) has adopted 100 percent clean energy sources, and the role it is playing in dissemination of this best practice to other stakeholders in the Kenyan energy sector.

After the speeches, the participants engaged in a lively discussion. The discussion revolved around climate finance (with Guido Montani reiterating the Sharm el-Sheikh’s resolution for reforms in the global financial system to unlock climate finance potentials), the action of civil society actors (Domenico Moro suggested a follow-up meeting with a diverse set of civil society actors; Guido Montani reiterated the Sharm el-Sheikh resolution calling for inclusion of children, youth and women in climate change negotiations and policymaking) and global governance (John Vlasto elucidated on the concept of MEGA, and called for moderated climate activism to build consensus rather than polarization; Nicole Muoki called for participants to be pro-active and engaged in the climate change agenda as we look towards COP-28). To follow the discussion that took place during the ‘Reflections on COP-27’ event, follow this link

Overall, the program was a success because it covered the majority of the agenda's talking points. However, due to time limitations, the problems of gender inclusion, youth, and future generations were not thoroughly discussed. As a result, we believe that a follow-up gathering should be organized, with these two topics at the top of the agenda. We were impressed by the high number of speakers and attendees from Europe and Africa. This points to an increasing Afro-Euro solidarity, which we welcome.

We truly thank all the event's coordinators, speakers, and attendees. We're planning a follow-up session soon, and we hope to see you there.

* Organizing Lead, YWF East Africa and the Lead, Sustainable Growth and Green Transition Workstream, WFM/IGP Transnational Working Group on AU-EU Affairs.

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