top of page
Search

COP27: Wins and Losses on Government Action, Peoples’ Movements Are Not Defeated

“Women have the knowledge and wisdom

to build the solutions to address this global crisis."

Neema Namadamu, WECAN Democratic Republic of Congo Coordinator,

Founder of Hero She Rising, Democratic Republic of Congo

Women leaders speak out during the WECAN COP27 Side Event, “Women for Climate Justice Leading Solutions on the Frontlines of Climate Change,” in Egypt 2022. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN


Welcome to the WECAN COP27 report back. We have divided the report back into two main sections, the top section contains analysis of COP27 outcomes, and the bottom section shares WECAN advocacy efforts, events, actions, protests, and media coverage from COP27.

Additionally, please find live streams of our advocacy work available on Facebook here. A full photo album from COP27 is also available here.



OVERVIEW

On November 20th, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt finally came to a conclusion after many late nights, with the adoption of the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan.

This year’s COP27 was heralded as the African COP, as well as the Implementation COP, seeking to not only lift up the leadership of African countries but also to move forward the Paris Climate Agreement goals. However, governments failed to fully actualize either of these aims.

While the Plan includes the historic development of Loss and Damage financing, which we truly celebrate after decades of advocacy by climate justice movements, it continues to recklessly delay phaseout of all fossil fuels. The cover text also lacks any substantive language on Indigenous rights, human rights, advancement on the Gender Action Plan, and ignores key demands of civil society. Governments also pushed forward more pathways for dangerous carbon market mechanisms during negotiations on Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement (more details below), which will also negatively impact communities and ecosystems.

Without the urgent action and ambition needed to cut emissions commensurate with staying below 1.5 degrees warming and with the exclusion of an all fossil fuel phaseout and rights-based language, the final text is an affront to the many communities worldwide facing the extreme and threatening impacts of the climate crisis, as it continues to allow governments to delay adaptation and mitigation efforts, and sideline civil society’s calls for climate justice and rights-based approaches. This will inevitably lead to disaster for frontline communities on the African continent and around the world, and ultimately all communities will be harshly impacted.

Youth activists hold a banner that says “1.5” to Stay Alive” at the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice held inside the COP27 venue in Egypt, 2022. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN


A report from UN Climate Change released ahead of COP27, found that implementation of the current pledges by governments puts the world on track for 2.5C warming by the end of the century. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Current government commitments are simply unacceptable.

WECAN was at COP27 to ensure women’s voices and solutions in all their diversity were centered within the negotiations through our advocacy, side events, press conferences, and direct actions. This year, BBC reported that women made up less than 34% of country negotiating teams at the UN summit in Egypt. Additionally, out of 110 world leaders present at COP27 only seven were women.

Women are not only experiencing the brunt of climate impacts, but are also drivers of climate action! Women, feminists, and gender-diverse leaders are at the forefront of our movements and on-the-ground solutions, and at COP27, were strong leaders in collective advocacy for the final approval of the Loss and Damage fund. Every day of the two-week convention, peoples' movements and civil society powerfully showed up to provide a vision moving forward grounded in just climate solutions that combat systemic inequity and harm to the Earth.

With this in mind, we join many voices from global peoples’ movements in expressing extreme disappointment and frustration with the COP27 outcomes that ultimately further capitalist, racist, colonial, and patriarchal policies, which continue harming frontline communities and women first and worst. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the climate talks continue to reflect unjust systems that are central to the root causes of the climate crisis, such as neoliberal economic models that drive the destructive commodification of nature, and the implementation of market-based mechanisms that most often harm people and the planet.

Attending international forums such as COP27 is one important component of WECAN’s multifaceted strategy to address the climate crisis and the root causes of environmental degradation and socio-economic inequalities. We recognize the importance of governments coming together to address the climate emergency, and yet we know that most of the urgent forward progress is in the hands of the people —with community-led solutions, on-the-ground projects, and movement building for global climate justice.

Global Indigenous leaders march through the COP27 venue during the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice in Egypt, 2022. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN


In light of this, WECAN intentionally participates in the UN climate talks to advance an inside-outside strategy as we hold governments, corporations, and their financial backers accountable. It is vital that civil society continues to hold space and intervene with an inside strategy, or COP outcomes would be far worse for our communities and the Earth.

People power does work. The Loss and Damage mechanism is a victory, and we also recognize that it is only a shell at this point and there will need to be massive ongoing efforts to push for implementation. Yet, this victory is a testament to nearly three decades of organizing amongst impacted countries and civil society. We will need this same focused effort to now phaseout fossil fuels, uplift gender equity, Indigenous sovereignty and human rights, and further push governments to declare a climate emergency and act swiftly to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

It is imperative that nations listen to the demands and calls to action from feminist movements, civil society, and all those fighting for just climate action. As in past years, the Women and Gender Constituency remained a powerful force in coordinating impactful advocacy moments, influencing negotiations, and uplifting the demands of African feminists.

We also want to spotlight the extreme constraints of civil society at COP27 in Egypt, which limited civil society’s ability to mobilize outside of the COP venue. Nevertheless, global movements took courageous action in solidarity with political prisoners in Egypt and beyond, calling for the release of Alaa Abd El Fattah— one of an estimated 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt— and other political prisoners and human rights defenders. As governments seek to restrict the advocacy efforts of civil society, we stand proudly, echoing the movement’s call: “No climate justice without human rights.” We will continue to support women land and human rights defenders and act in solidarity with those in Egypt and beyond fighting for their rights to freedom of speech and a healthy and just future.

Frontline leaders and constituency focal points lead the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice inside COP27 in Egypt. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN


WECAN was honored to have participated in COP27 with our incredible frontline women leaders delegation— advocating, speaking out, movement building and engaging at every level with governments alongside global climate movement leaders and feminists for climate justice. We uplifted gender-responsive climate policies; Indigenous and human rights; rights of nature; phasing out all fossil fuels; saying no to false solutions and yes to community-led initiatives; decolonizing our economies, and so much more.

While governments failed to meet the urgency of this moment, failed to meet the title of “Implementation COP”, and further obstructed urgent just climate action, the global climate justice movement made clear that we can succeed when the demands of frontline communities are centered. We are thankful for all the collective organizing and relationships we deepened in our time in Egypt— for People and Planet!


At the high-level closing session at COP27 in Egypt, Helena Gualinga, Kichwa Indigenous youth climate leader, and WECAN COP27 Delegate left us with these parting words:

“I envision a future where we do not have to fear another flood, another fire, or finding another murdered protector of the Amazon. I envision a future where our children and your children do not have to fight for the future of humanity. I envision the Living Forest, the vision of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku that respects and ensures that the forest, the forest beings, and our people are permanently protected from extractive industries and other threats.”

Governments must commit to just climate action, and WECAN will continue to work ceaselessly and fiercely for solutions of women and frontline communities—fighting together for Mother Earth, the health of our communities, and generations to come.

Please read further to learn about outcomes from the negotiations, our WECAN delegates, events, actions, protests, and advocacy at COP26.



IMPACTED COUNTRIES AND COMMUNITIES SECURE LOSS AND DAMAGE FUND!

African feminists lead an action on Loss and Damage at COP27 in Egypt demanding a funding mechanism for Loss and Damage and to halt investments in fossil fuel projects. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN


After over 30 decades of advocacy, Loss and Damage finance finally made it onto the agenda at COP27, for the first time ever. After two weeks of grueling negotiations, we are celebrating the creation of a Loss and Damage finance mechanism.

This could not have been possible without the ceaseless organizing and advocacy by Small Island Nations, nations most impacted by climate disasters, and the powerful civil society leaders fighting to ensure Loss and Damage (L&D) was a priority this year.

Loss and Damage is not a new topic in the UN climate negotiations. The first call for action on L&D came from the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in 1991. However, no financing system for addressing L&D has been promised after 30 years and 26 COPs— until now.

The agreement on L&D calls for a committee of delegates to meet over the next year to determine the specifics of the fund – which countries should pay, and where and how financing will be distributed. It is imperative that we remain vigilant and pay close attention to the advancement of this funding mechanism to ensure the leadership and expertise of those most impacted by climate disasters are a part of the development of this mechanism. Frontline communities continue to demand a finance facility for Loss and Damage, that includes and addresses past damages, non-economic, and cultural damages. Climate finance is interconnected with impacted communities, nature, and the people who steward the world’s biodiversity, therefore these same communities must be at the decision-making table as this mechanism is developed.


At last year’s COP26, vulnerable nations’ proposal for the L&D finance facility was rejected by wealthy countries. Since then, more than 119 extreme weather events have occurred in vulnerable countries and emissions have continued to rise. Before COP27, civil society spoke out loudly to ensure Loss and Damage was a part of the formal agenda. WECAN signed onto an NGO letter calling on the Biden administration to stop blocking the creation of a Loss & Damage fund at COP27, we won that demand, and the U.S. ultimately supported the establishment of the fund.


At its core Loss and Damage is a term that refers to both financial and nonfinancial losses and damages as a result of the climate crisis, which require a financial investment for repair. Loss and Damage describes how climate change causes irreversible impacts in vulnerable communities, despite adaptation and mitigation efforts. L&D is about making funds accessible for vulnerable and impacted nations to address the impacts of climate-related catastrophes. Frontline countries and communities have not yet been compensated for the consequences of a crisis that they did not create. This is an unjust cycle, as vulnerable countries are forced to put funds towards disaster response, meaning less funds are going toward resilience, mitigation, or adaptation efforts.


It is important to note that wealthy countries, most responsible for the climate crisis, have continued to fall short on current commitments to climate finance. It is well established that the United States and European Union are the top contributors to the climate crisis when looking at historical emissions. In 2009, wealthy countries committed to mobilizing100 billion USD a year by 2020 to support developing countries on climate action. However, most developed countries are falling short on this promise, mobilizing only83.3 billion USD in 2020. Studies show that even 100 billion is not nearly enough to address global losses and damages, with research estimating an increase of at least 590% in annual climate finance is needed to meet internationally-agreed climate objectives by 2030 and to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

African feminists lead an action on Loss and Damage at COP27 in Egypt demanding a funding mechanism for Loss and Damage and to halt investments in fossil fuel projects. Photo Credit: Katherine Quaid | WECAN


It is also important for policymakers to acknowledge the historical oppressions that further aggravate the losses and damages of frontline communities. Particularly, it is crucial to recognize how colonialism, imperialism, and extractive capitalism have shaped the socioeconomic and environmental context of the Global South. It is no accident that Indigenous, Black, Brown, and communities in the Global South are at the frontline, facing enormous losses and damages– the historical context of colonialism and imperialism and its current impacts that continue to denigrate and destroy communities and lands for the capitalist profits of rich nations and companies.


For example, In the summer of 2022, Pakistan was devastated by floods, which were exacerbated by climate change. A third of the nation was submerged, resulting in 1,700 deaths, and at least $40 billion in economic damage. Severe floods inundated portions of Nigeria as well, and in other parts of Africa, unprecedented drought has forced millions of people to the verge of famine. The longer the delay in implementing substantive action, the more people will suffer as a result, which is why the forthcoming L&D facility must aim to reduce harm and inequalities. As the development of the facility advances we remain concerned about how funds will be distributed and could end up delaying funding or utilizing multilateral development banks, which have a harmful track record for actually supporting vulnerable countries and communities.


It is also vital to highlight that we must simultaneously stop fossil fuel expansion so that there is less damage to communities. It has been suggested that ending fossil fuel subsidies could free up billions for a Loss and Damage fund.


While there are many negative outcomes at COP27, we celebrate this vital advancement and breakthrough for Loss and Damage and will continue to join our colleagues globally to uplift the work and demands of those most impacted by climate disasters and to continue to fight and hold wealthy countries, like the United States and European Union, responsible for their contributions to the climate crisis.



GOVERNMENTS CONTINUE TO DELAY A PHASEOUT OF FOSSIL FUELS

Osprey Orielle Lake (center), WECAN Executive Director takes action alongside Sharon Lavigne, Founder of RISE St. James (center left) in an action at COP27 in Egypt, led by Gulf South frontline leaders to demand an end to fossil fuels and for governments to declare a climate emergency. Photo Credit: WECAN


Ending the era of fossil fuels remains a key demand of WECAN and global movements in domestic and international climate policy. We know the most important way to cut emissions is to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Nevertheless, fossil fuel production continues to rapidly expand with governments enabling expansion despite their climate commitments.

A push led by India to include a phase down of all fossil fuels, not only coal, in the final text was rejected. This makes the 1.5-degree target almost impossible to achieve — we must have bold and transformative action now!

Tragically but not unexpectedly, fossil fuel lobbyists continue to hold a grip on the negotiations. At COP27, the influence of the fossil fuel industry only escalated, with Global Witness reporting a 25% increase in fossil fuel representation from last year.

Ahead of COP27, WECAN joined our colleagues demanding the Egyptian COP presidency to kick big polluters out, yet those calls remained unanswered. We must immediately transition off fossil fuels, however, governments continue to delay accountability and action. Throughout the two weeks, we engaged in sweeping actions with civil society calling for fossil fuel phaseout, and bringing attention to the fossil fuel industry's attempts to derail negotiations and global advancement toward the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

An action at COP27 in Egypt to kick big polluters out of negotiations and to phaseout fossil fuels. Photo Credit: WECAN


While India’s proposal to include all fossil fuels in a phase down was rejected, we did see some surprising support for the proposal, with a reported 80 countries endorsing the initiative. Specifically the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union were willing to be a part of the push to phase down all fossil fuels in the agreement, a large shift from their positions in previous years.