The COP27 sign is seen at the UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 17, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Emilie Madi
- Richer countries have refused to incorporate key demands by poorer countries to ensure implementation of the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), a key issue at COP27.
- The poorer countries’ demands include the establishment of a proper framework on the adaptation goals this year and to involve scientists to prepare a report on adaptation.
- The latest draft released on Thursday did not contain the suggestions by developing countries.
- Instead, the developed countries led by the US and the EU have asked for the implementation to be pushed by a year and for workshops and discussion to continue until then.
Despite being called the “implementation COP”, rich countries continue to thwart the implementation of matters important to poorer countries in the ongoing COP27 climate talks in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
This time, the thorn is adaptation.
On the night of November 17, the conference’s participants published a draft text on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA), in a disappointing turn for developing countries.
The Global Goal on Adaptation was set up under the Paris Agreement in 2015 to provide direction on efforts to increase the capacity of all nations to deal with the effects of climate change. This included efforts to increase resilience to extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
The draft text didn’t include two major recommendations by poorer countries – setting up a proper framework for GGA and to include inputs from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Perhaps the most glaring particular exclusion was the removal of ‘equity’ and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ (CBDR) as the GGA’s guiding principles.
CBDR acknowledges that different countries have different capabilities and responsibilities in addressing climate change.
The text is up for negotiation before it is finalised. And if it is formalised in its current form, it will be a blow to developing countries’ efforts to ensure the implementation of the GGA this year.
Where countries stand on adaptation
Over the years, countries have made little progress on climate adaptation.
At the COP26 talks in Glasgow last year, participating countries set up the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on GGA – considered to be a significant step. The work programme entailed a series of workshops over two years to discuss the global goals. The ongoing COP27 is the halfway mark of the programme, which will end in 2023.
Prior to the commencement of COP27, experts had several questions about the GGA, including how it would be implemented, where the money for it would come from and how it would assess countries’ vulnerability to the climate crisis.
On November 15, a previous version of the draft text was released. It included decisions pertaining to the GGA’s working programme. However, it presented many “options” – meaning developing and developed countries weren’t on the same page on several matters related to the GGA.
Rich countries say no to framework
The next day, country representatives joined in dialogue around the November 15 draft text, to arrive at a consensus before it went to the ministers to prepare a final text. (The COP presidency appoints ministers to lead discussions on specific matters.) In this last document, developing countries together demanded a proper framework to achieve adaptation goals.
In effect, this was a call for dialogues around adaptation to graduate from merely exploring to a more structured form. Led by Zambia, developing countries had even prepared a comprehensive framework since talks on the matter began on November 9.
This submission contained answers to existing questions: on assessing the vulnerability of countries, financing methods and important sectors deserving focus. Developing countries also wrote that all countries must keep in mind the principles of equity and CBDR.
However, the richer countries, led by the European Union and the US, refused to establish a framework and insisted instead that countries were still at a “premature” stage of the working programme on adaptation. They suggested that the world wait another year before establishing a framework, and continue with workshops and dialogue until then.
The latest text version of the draft text, released on Thursday, suggested starting work on developing “a framework for [GGA], which will be informed by a structured approach to the Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme in 2023, with a view to the framework being considered and adopted at the fifth session” of the COP28 talks in November 2023.
“The new text prepared by the ministers under their authority is unacceptable,” Prerna Bomzan, a researcher with Third World Network, an independent international research and advocacy organisation, said. “It totally silences the developing countries’ firm call to establish the framework on GGA at this COP”.
“And the crucial means of implementation to achieve adaptation actions has been watered down in the text.”
Delinking science from adaptation
Developing countries also suggested roping in the IPCC to prepare a special report on the GGA because, they said, this was important to establish a scientific basis for progress on adaptation discussions.
The US Objected to the idea saying that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a political body, can’t give “specific mandates” to the IPCC, a body of scientists. The developing countries pointed out, however, that the Paris Agreement had already asked the IPCC to prepare a special report on the impact of warming by more than 1.5º C over pre-industrial levels.
As such, the developing countries didn’t accept the US’s idea to delink science from adaptation considering the precedent from 2015.
This tussle between the richer and the poorer parties raises questions about the importance accorded by the US and other developed countries to adaptation.
Due to divergent views on the draft text released late Thursday night, the parties reached out to the ministers to consider changing the draft text. This article will be updated if and when there is a new development.
Mrinali is a researcher with Land Conflict Watch, an independent network of researchers studying land conflicts, climate change and natural resource governance in India.