COP27 takes place in an extremely complex year. Severe climate disasters affect different geographic areas of the planet without distinction. Wars on multiple fronts threaten the balance of power. An uneven and severely slowed economic recovery, growing food and energy crises negatively impact quality of life internationally.
This is especially worrisone in the most fragile countries, which are forced to manage rising levels of debt and increasingly limited fiscal space, amid economic instability and growing risks of a global recessionary phase.
Scientific data have already made it clear that in this current decade we have the last chance to implement those concrete actions to secure our economies and societies from sure climate and environmental disasters. The condition for successful climate protection is that Emissions must stop rising immediately and fall by 43 percent by the end of the decade. Developing countries will have to meet the growing demand for low-cost energy through renewable sources and adapt to the catastrophic impact of the climate crisis. Significant cuts in emissions and fossil fuel use must decline rapidly until they disappear in the next two to three decades, to make way for the exponential increase of renewables in the global energy mix and energy efficiency.
Despite the scientific evidence, the major emitters of greenhouse gases – G20 countries in the forefront – have so far failed to adopt effective and adequate solutions to the climate risks we all face today.
COP27, which opens on November 6 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, is a key opportunity to begin to close the gap and undertake all the necessary efforts. Now more than ever there is a need to build political momentum and restore collaboration and trust among governments to address the greatest challenge of this century. Action on climate change offers more than ever a pathway out of the multiple and interconnected crises we face.
Role and limits of COP27
While the energy and food price crises rightly attract the interest of world leaders, it is nonetheless climate action that offers a clear and concrete way forward to address the multiple challenges facing the international community in a cohesive and supportive way.
Investing, for example, in more resilient food systems and protecting and restoring nature should be considered part of the response to address the immediate challenge of hunger and rising food prices, with the dual benefits of reducing emissions and addressing climate impacts and vulnerabilities.
The main task of COP27 will be to bring together all key actors to provide effective and immediate responses through climate action and cooperation. To do so, governments and non-state actors will need to demonstrate progress on their promises to date. While COP27 is not the only space for climate action, it is in fact the main verification moment where citizens and civil society around the world judge the progress made by governments and non-state actors since COP26 in Glasgow.
There is also a need to agree on new ways to accelerate climate action on all the goals of the Paris Agreement (mitigation, adaptation, and finance), reinvigorating the relevance of this multilateral space to address the key issues that bind current global challenges.
This necessarily includes an agreement on how to collectively address climate impacts and the loss and damage they cause increase climate finance, and accelerate emissions reductions.
However, COP27 alone will not make the progress we need to respond to the various crises, and new solutions will have to come from other fora, such as G20 and Multilateral Development Banks. Climate action and decision-making transcend negotiations and require systemic action on multiple levels. Indeed, climate action must be integrated into governmental, subnational, corporate, and financial policies and decision-making processes around the world, with a regular and transparent verification system to assess its credibility and progress in implementation.
The outcomes to be achieved at Sharm El-Sheikh.
The upcoming COP must demonstrate to the world that climate action is not only urgent and among international priorities, but that leaders are willing to continue to cooperate to address it effectively even to help solve related global crises.
Specifically, countries will need to demonstrate that they are making progress in better addressing climate impacts and are willing to provide more funding for adaptation and climate change loss and damage as soon as possible. In parallel, they will need to clarify how they are concretely accelerating emissions reduction and how they intend to raise the ambition to keep the temperature within 1.5 degrees, as the science demands, ensuring that non-state actors are adequately involved in these efforts.
It is clear that these outcomes cannot be achieved quickly without a transformation of the financial system to secure the resources essential to achieving climate and development goals. The international financial system must be able to sustain ambitious volumes of at least $5 trillion a year until 2030. This would also send a strong signal that could be leveraged by developing countries to negotiate with private investors for new resources for the transition.
Such support should go hand in hand with the elimination of direct and indirect financing to fossil fuels not only by governments and their respective export credit agencies (such as the Italian SACE), but especially by Multilateral Development Banks, making resources available in parallel to manage the socio-economic impacts for a just but rapid transition.
In this scenario, Italy can count on strong international credibility also assured by the achievements of the Draghi government during the 2021 G20 Presidency and the partnership with the British government for COP26. However, the newly installed government is called upon to present its priorities for the climate agenda as soon as possible.
The new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who recently signed the Center-Right’s Declaration for Climate Action, recognizes with it the urgency of tackling climate change, ensuring the achievement of climate neutrality by the middle of this century, and unlocking funding to support developing countries. COP27 will then be the first international occasion in which your government will have to demonstrate how it intends to contribute to pursuing these collective goals and whether it wishes to do so as a major player on a par with other G7 economies.