‘Woeful inaction on net zero’ so far at Cop27, campaigners warn

There has been “woeful inaction on net zero” by global governments so far at Cop27, campaigners have warned, despite the core aim of the climate summit being to reduce emissions.

As the summit heads into its final week, nearly 200 countries have a limited opportunity to strike a deal to avoid the worst impacts of environmental breakdown, while failure to agree on “loss and damage” funding has resulted in a lack of momentum and could sour the rest of the conference, analysts have warned.

Kate Norgrove from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said the charity was “deeply concerned” by the slow progress on changes to harmful agriculture practices and empty promises being made in relation to loss and damage.

During his opening speech at the summit in Egypt, UN secretary-general António Guterres said getting concrete results on loss and damage was a “litmus test” of the commitment of governments to the success of Cop27.

As a result of the stalemate, the outlook for the remainder of the summit is bleak.

Few countries have made headline commitments to cut emissions further or faster, and the world is not on track to meet the targets set out under the Paris Agreement.

A major criticism of existing approaches to emissions-cutting has been the lack of focus on the enormous environmental impact on the planet by existing agricultural systems, with countries keen to talk up success in cutting emissions from the energy sector but with less enthusiasm in recognising the emissions associated with farming.

Livestock farming accounts for between 16.5 per cent and 28 per cent of all greenhouse gas pollution and could use half the world’s entire carbon budget by 2030.

With just a few days left in Egypt, negotiators representing governments around the world have a huge list of potential deals to make if the conference isn’t to be considered a historic failure.

Ms Norgrove, the WWF’s executive director of advocacy and campaigns, said: “So far in Sharm el-Sheikh, sadly all we have seen is woeful inaction on net zero and protecting the planet.

“With the second week of Cop27 looming, the UK and global governments must shift from empty promises to meaningful action and bring new resolve to the table to keep global warming to 1.5C, including securing a finance mechanism for loss and damage and making progress on implementation and closing the emissions gap.”

She added: “This requires commitments across all sectors, and we are deeply concerned by slow progress at the summit in agreeing the future of work on agriculture. Our food system contributes around one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and is also the number one cause of biodiversity loss – it cannot be kicked into the long grass any longer.

“Success at Cop27 is vital for creating momentum ahead of the crucial global biodiversity summit Cop15 in December. We need promises to be fulfilled and decisive action plans and timelines from all governments, including the UK, if we are to address the dual climate and nature crises and bring our world back to life.”

Leaders at Cop27 have also urged a great level of action for the final days of the conference.

Egypt’s foreign minister and Cop president Sameh Shoukry called on countries to advance climate commitments.

He said: “There is still a lot of work ahead of us if we are to achieve meaningful and tangible outcomes of which we can be proud.

“We must now shift gears and complement the technical discussions with more political, high-level engagement.”