On the outcomes of COP 27

In the final days of COP 27, the collective power of vulnerable and marginalized communities, social movements, and civil society breathed into life a historic agreement among governments present to set up a Loss and Damage Fund. This is a positive step in inching towards justice for those most affected by the climate crisis, and in holding to account historically polluting nations.

But such gains on the loss and damage conversation is undermined by a COP that ultimately fails to signal the phaseout of all fossil fuels. It will be no different to prescribing medicine to relieve pain for a sick person without addressing the root cause of his sickness.

The cover decision of this year’s COP barely builds on the outcomes of the Glasgow pact, which calls for only the phase down of unabated coal and restricts subsidies for fossil fuels. The presidency and global leaders touted COP 27 as the ‘implementation COP’ – in the end it seems that what it sought to implement is the abandonment of the 1.5°C ambition due to more coal, gas, and oil. It need not be said that going beyond 1.5°C means even more unspeakable loss and damage for vulnerable peoples.

But the final text does not speak for the multitudes of voices calling for a phaseout of fossil fuels. Civic movements and climate science have long called out coal, gas, and oil as culprit to the catastrophic changes in our global climate. At COP 27, dozens and dozens of governments joined in to say that fossil fuels must be phased out – yet a handful of nations intent on blocking the energy transition prevailed. Many others, like the Philippines’ own delegation, shamefully kept mum despite representing highly vulnerable peoples. This silence becomes even more disappointing if we recall how, in the past, the Philippines was one of the strongest voices for climate justice and action – against the backdrop of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, it was the Philippines and other vulnerable nations that fought for the need to tackle loss and damage, eventually giving birth to the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage. 

It cannot be denied that the urgent need for an equitable phaseout of all fossil fuels has made its mark in today’s global consciousness. This is a reality that we would be bringing back to the fight for a just energy transition in our own home countries, a much more spirited fight that the fossil fuel industry and its backers would find themselves confronting and losing even beyond COP.

Gerry Arances, 
Executive Director; Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development