COP27 will go down in pages of history as the only UN climate change conference where the Loss and Damage fund was agreed upon. This is a huge triumph for developing nations that are susceptible to climate change after decades of struggle. Since COP26, there has been a tremendous change in the discussion and the stances of industrialized nations. As difficult negotiations about how the new loss and damage fund will operate — and who will make financial contributions to it — begin, parties must keep building on the optimistic momentum established in Sharm. The COP27 avoided the politically more divisive demand-side concerns of providing nutrient-dense and environmentally sustainable diets for everyone, maintaining a firm focus on supply-side solutions to address food insecurity.

Implementation demands urgency

It has frequently been stated that the implementation phase of climate action is now taking place after setting targets. What COP27 demonstrates is that honesty and accountability will become increasingly important as the implementation phase gets underway, as the voices of the youth and the vulnerable economies constantly remind the world. There will be a lot of questions and time for reflection once the dust has settled about the strategies employed by various parties and players, and there will be a lot to be learnt that can support efforts to have additional breakthroughs at COP28.

What next?

Global leaders have taken much-needed action at COP27 to address loss and destruction, which are symptoms of climate change, but they continue to refuse to identify or even address the cause.  At this COP, a resounding chorus of voices—from unexpected places including the EU, UK, Colombia, and Kenya—called for an end to the burning of all fossil fuels. The energy, transportation, and food sectors, the global financial system, and how people live their lives must all undergo radical change if global governments are to successfully bend the curve on emissions in the allotted three years. Although valuable time and opportunities were lost in Sharm el-Sheikh, governments can still heed the signals of change from the conference by taking ambitious national measures in the coming year. By doing so, they will be better prepared at COP28 the following year to take transformative multilateral action where it counts.

The three pillars of climate action are loss and damage, adaptation, and mitigation. Progress was achieved on mitigation, loss, and damage this year, but to stop the latter from spiralling out of control, adaptation needs to get its due at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2023.

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