What Happened at COP27, and Why Does it Matter?

What Happened at COP27, and Why Does it Matter?

With preparation for COP28 in the UAE already set to begin, we’re bringing you some key developments that will frame climate debates and actions in 2023, but largely got lost in the headlines and the final COP27 text.


At COP21, the Paris Agreement centered the entire climate debate around a common goal -- that every country needed to offer a plan to reduce emissions aligned with the idea of holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less.

Two years ago, as the incoming Biden Administration began making its climate plans, the world was rushing toward climate chaos. As countries around the world repeatedly failed to achieve their already insufficient nationally determined contributions (NDCs), any hope of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius was slipping further and further away.

After President Biden’s inauguration, the new Administration hit the ground running by rejoining the Paris Agreement, announcing an updated NDC, and kicking off a legislative agenda with Congress.

DW: Last 8 years set to be hottest on record as world leaders meet at COP27, November 6, 2022.

About a year into the new Administration, the UK hosted COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The world left COP26 in Glasgow with nations representing 65% of global GDP committed to 2030 targets in line with 1.5 degrees C. The International Energy Agency (IEA) calculated that if all of the more ambitious commitments and initiatives put forward in Glasgow were fully implemented, we could limit warming to below 1.8 degrees.

One year later, what happened at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh?

- The IEA now says that if the new commitments and actions at COP27 are fully implemented, we can limit warming to 1.7 degrees.

- As countries steadily set more ambitious targets, we’ve made a journey from well over 2 degrees of predicted temperature rise to 1.8 to now 1.7 degrees.

- These two COPs have kept the hope of 1.5 alive.

The Economist: COP27 | does it go far enough?, November 20, 2022.

Reuters: What happened at the COP27 climate summit?, November 22, 2022.

Met Office - UK Weather: Can we keep 1.5 C alive?, November 16, 2022.


- More than 30 other countries strengthened their 2030 targets.

- In Australia, a new government elected with a climate mandate committed to a 1.5-aligned target.

- Mexico is significantly strengthening its 2030 target and plans to double its renewable energy capacity in order to meet it.

- Alongside the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia committed to peak its power sector emissions seven years earlier, by 2030, with a goal of net zero by 2050.

- Egypt committed to strengthen its 2030 target and quadruple its renewable energy capacity.

- More than 150 countries -- fully three-quarters of the nations of the world -- have now joined the Global Methane Pledge, aiming to slash global methane emissions 30% by 2030. Over 95% of countries now include methane in their 2030 NDC targets. Tackling methane is the fastest, most effective way to reduce near-term warming and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

- The US and Norway launched the Green Shipping Challenge, with countries, ports, and companies from Amazon to Maersk announcing more than 40 major steps aimed at decarbonizing international shipping.

- At COP27, countries launched the Global Fertilizer Challenge, which will help low- and middle-income countries cope with the global fertilizer shortages exacerbated by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The result will be both lower emissions and increased food security.

- The First Movers Coalition, originally launched at COP26, now includes 65 companies committing $12 billion toward zero-emission shipping and trucking and the purchase of clean steel, aluminum, cement, and aviation fuels.

WION: Australia raises 2030 target for cutting emissions, June 16, 2022.

Reuters: Mexican companies turn to small-scale renewable energy, August 22, 2022.

Mexico Business: Mexico’s Path to 100% Our country’s trajectory towards 100% renewable energy, March 9, 2021.

The Straits Times: Indonesia’s clean energy revolution, December 19, 2021.

Center for Strategic & International Studies: Beyond COP26: The Global Methane Pledge, December 7, 2021.

ShareAmerica: COP27 | Green Shipping Challenge, November 3, 2022.

Financial Times: The cost of greener shipping, March 21, 2022.

Reuters: US Climate Envoy Kerry announce First Movers Coalition Expansion at WEF, May 25, 2022.

Emissions gut-check?

Coming out of Glasgow, experts predicted 1.8 degrees of temperature rise. Coming out of Sharm el-Sheikh, it’s estimated at 1.7 degrees. And in the all-too-real world of climate science, that math matters when you focus on the faces of the fractions: every tenth of a degree of warming averted means less drought, less flooding, less sea-level rise, less extreme weather. It means lives saved and losses avoided.

DW: Floods, drought and the consequences of extreme weather (Documentary), July 16, 2022.

Al Jazeera: Pakistan flood damage could cost the country about $40bn, October 7, 2022.

ABC: Hurricane Ian expected to cost Florida $258 billion, September 29, 2022.

PBS: What Will Earth Look Like When These 6 Tipping Points Hit, September 6, 2022.

The Economist: See what three degrees of global warming looks like, October 30, 2021.

What should we watch for in 2023?

- The world needs a massive infusion of private capital. That is why the US, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bezos Earth Fund have introduced the concept of an Energy Transition Accelerator to catalyze private capital in order to speed the transition from dirty to clean power in developing countries. The major question to look out for -- how can the program build in strong guardrails ensuring both a just transition and full environmental integrity?

- As the world works to reduce emissions and avert the consequences of runaway warming, how can they help vulnerable countries cope with the impacts they are experiencing today and will in the future? COP27 marked a historic decision to establish funding arrangements related to loss and damage, including a dedicated UN fund as part of what many are calling a "mosaic” of responses.

- Will the US and China make climate cooperation a success? Climate talks were allowed to resume following President Biden and President Xi’s meeting in Bali. In 2023, will they follow through on, and build upon their mutual commitments in the Joint Glasgow Declaration, including China’s commitment on phasing down coal consumption, taking ambitious action to reduce methane emissions in the 2020s, and addressing illegal deforestation? Will China ensure their NDC addresses all greenhouse gasses, particularly methane, to align their 2030 target with the Paris Agreement temperature goal?

- In 2023, will the key nations continue pressing for all major economies to align their 2030 targets with 1.5C; and to fulfill those targets by:

In 2023, can countries work closely with the UAE, which will host COP 28, to ensure that the first global stock-take under the Paris Agreement produces a meaningful outcome setting the stage for even greater climate ambition in the years ahead.

New York Times Events: Inside Private-Sector Finance and Climate, July 1, 2022.

Reuters: COP27 delivers agreement on 'loss and damage,' November 20, 2022.

NBC News: Low Income Countries Bear Brunt Of Climate Change, September 23, 2022.

CNBC: Should rich countries pay the bill for global warming?, November 7, 2022.

TED: Fossil fuel companies know how to stop global warming. Why don’t they? | Myles Allen, December 4, 2020.

JTC IAS: Alert and Response System (MARS) | COP-27 of UNFCCC, November 16, 2022.

CBC News: The National | Brazil’s president-elect injects optimism into COP27, November 16, 2022.

WW0’s takeaway?

COP27 was an important milestone -- but the journey continues. Onwards!

UN: UN Chief on the Closing of COP 27, November 19, 2022.