As we see the conclusion of another annual COP, it’s an opportunity for us to ask, “how much of a climate impact have we actually made this year?”.
Well, reflecting on the inadequacy of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) at COP26, we can see that commitments have increased slightly at COP27, but we are still nowhere near reaching our 1.5°c target at the current rate. Judging by that COP27 has been a disappointment. Since COP26 only 24 updated or new NDCs were submitted.
It is important to point out that the countries that have updated their NDCs, or set new ones, have strengthened their commitments, and shown that they are more ambitious in their strategy to address climate change. The EU has been among the leading voices making the most ambitious pledges at COP27, but is still working to update its NDCs.
The issue that is most worrying for me is that while nations are quick to set bold targets, they have not been so successful in meeting them and it is not clear how this is going to be improved in the future. However, there have also been a few positive developments at this year’s COP. Read on for my key takeaways.
Loss and Damage Fund
In a breakthrough agreement, nations have agreed to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries bearing the heaviest burden of climate disasters (UNFCCC 2022). Not only does the package call for stronger pledges to cut GHG emissions and climate change adaptations by nations, but also will critically provide finance, technology support and capacity building that developing countries require. However, a detailed plan on who is going to commit to which concrete actions has not yet been agreed upon. Therefore, it is a rather “empty” agreement at the moment and urgently needs to be filled with stronger commitments.
The ENACT Initiative
An initiative named ‘Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation’ (ENACT) was launched at COP27 to coordinate global efforts to address climate change. The initiative is a voluntary coalition of state and non-state actors, co-chaired by Germany and Egypt, and hosted by the IUCN.
The ENACT initiative will deliver an annual ‘State of Nature-based Solutions’ report to deliver ahead of future COPs, which will detail the state of global progress in NbS implementation.
The aims of the initiative are:
- Enhance the protection from and resilience to climate impacts of at least 1 billion vulnerable people, including at least 500 million women and girls.
- Secure up to 2.4 billion hectares of healthy natural and sustainable agricultural ecosystems, through the protection of 45 million ha, sustainable management of 2 billion ha, and restoration of 350 million ha.
- Significantly increase global mitigation efforts through protecting, conserving and restoring carbon-rich terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.
This is an initiative that will hopefully bring more awareness on the potential of Nature-based Solutions for tackling climate change, and thus support shifting global capital into nature, an endeavour that we at goodcarbon are working on with great passion.
Sustainable Forest Management
Leaders have launched the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP) which aims to unite governments, community leaders and companies to halt forest loss and land degradation. 27 countries representing over 60% of global GDP have joined the new partnership and have pledged actions including mobilizing public and donor finance to support implementation, supporting Indigenous and local community initiatives and incentivizing the conservation of forests. The FCLP will host annual meetings and publish an annual Global Progress report to drive this cause forward (UNFCCC 2022), which is highly important if we are to reign in the level of deforestation we have witnessed in recent years.
Launch of the High Quality Blue Carbon Principles
goodcarbon had the pleasure of partaking in the creation and launch of the “High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance” (goodcarbon 2022), a first of its kind Blue Carbon framework which will guide the development and purchasing of high-quality blue carbon projects and carbon credits. The aim with these principles is to build investable high-quality projects to ensure that we tap into the potential of our oceans on delivering nature, biodiversity, and social impact.
Blue Carbon offers us a vast opportunity of untapped carbon sequestration, biodiversity regeneration and social impact potential. Therefore, we are proud to have been involved in the process of the creation of this guidance, and hope that it supports projects in developing and scaling high-integrity Blue Carbon projects.
The five principles are as follows:
- Safeguard nature
- Empower People
- Employ the best information and carbon accounting principles
- Operate contextually and locally
- Mobilize high-integrity capital
The 30 by 30 target has been reaffirmed by 112 nations at COP27. The commitment pledges to protect 30% of land and ocean by 2030 to help curb biodiversity loss and climate change, with a fore focus on marine conservation. Leaders have declared their aim of achieving a global agreement for 30×30 by the upcoming COP15 – the Biological Diversity Summit, which will be held this coming December. The pledge also aims to involve and, if possible, co-develop targets with relevant stakeholders, particularly Indigenous and local communities.
Our oceans have been overlooked and overly depended on. As such, 30×30 is a positive step in the right direction to protect our precious blue ecosystems. As with many topics, the success of this initiative will depend on the implementation and the enforcements of the commitments. In the near future, we also hope that countries go beyond protecting 30% of their oceans and develop policies to protect all the ocean and forest under their jurisdictions, since science strongly suggests that the protection of 30% of the ocean is not going to suffice to save our blue planet.
The Mangrove Breakthrough Pathway
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Global Mangrove Alliance and the UN High-Level Climate Champions have set a shared target and pathway to drive public and private finance, to restore and protect mangrove ecosystems.
The Mangrove Breakthrough (Mangrove Alliance 2022) aims to secure the protection and restoration of 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030 which equates to an investment of $4 billion to act on:
- Halting mangrove losses.
- Restoring half of recent mangrove losses.
- Doubling the protection of mangroves globally.
- Ensuring sustainable long-term finance for all existing mangroves.
Mangroves are a major ecosystem for delivering climate change mitigation, while also providing immense biodiversity benefits, improving the lives of local communities and are a major ecosystem for climate change adaptation. As such, a pathway like the Mangrove Breakthrough offers the public and private sector an opportunity to focus on ways to restore and protect the worlds mangrove forests.
In conclusion, there have been some important commitments and pledges at this year’s COP and this gives me hope that some changes are going to be implemented. However, to combat global warming, agreeing on many more concrete plans of actions would have been necessary during this year’s COP.
At goodcarbon we will continue to do our part in increasing integrity and scaling the Voluntary Carbon Market and Nature-based Solutions. Our vision at goodcarbon has always been to witness the same shift by the public sector and Nation States. I hope that by the time COP28 comes around we will be reflecting on real, positive measurable impacts and stronger actions, because we are running out of time.