COP 27 in Sharm-el-Sheik ended as one of the most controversial COPs in history. The conference was marked by a significant mistrust between developed and developing countries, resulting in a growing lack of credibility in the process. An agreement was reached on the establishment of the fund for financing the increasing loss and damage caused by climate change, which is albeit only the principal decision and lacks any clarity on how to replenish the fund and the criteria for dispersing it, is important but no cause for celebration. This concession from rich countries - in allowing the fund to be established - has been a late response to a justified cry that developed nations cover climate change damages caused in undeveloped territories, damages which their inhabitants did not cause or to which they contributed minimally. If the ‘polluter pays’ principle has any validity, covering the costs related to climate disasters by those who polluted the atmosphere should be so obvious that one can only wonder why it needs to become so dramatic a discussion.
COP 27, as we were reminded, will be most likely be seen as the moment when the dream of keeping global warming below 1.5C died. The reality of progressing climate change is harsh. Despite clear scientific evidence, despite the acknowledged need of a rapid reduction in the carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere, a decrease of 50% by 2030, its production is still growing. COP27 failed to address this key concern by any significant means.
The scientific warnings could not have been louder: we are on the brink of an irreversible climate breakdown. COP27 was not in position to make a step forward to stop or to slow down the arrival of that moment.
The UN Secretary General António Guterres, in commenting on the developments, said that our planet is "still in the emergency room". To that he added, ‘We need to drastically reduce emissions now - and this is an issue this COP did not address. … A fund for loss and damage is essential - but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map - or turns an entire African country to desert.’
Religious and faith-based groups continue to underline that climate change has become an existential issue. While celebrating a step towards climate justice, which was made through the decision on the establishment of the fund, the presence of faith-based groups in COP27 was louder but, at the same time, more needed than any time before. In the statement of religious leaders gathered at the summit, the following was underlined: ‘As religious leaders, we offer our voice as a contribution to the gathered leaders and to humanity. Ours is a voice of hope and unity, grounded in a spiritual vision. From this vision, offered as common ground between diverse religions, a positive attitude to life is derived that can inform practical decisions and negotiations. It can also give hope and meaning to individuals struggling under the burden of climate anxiety, who seek to find their place and identify their responsibility at this time of crisis. We must also confront honestly the destructive habits which continue to limit the possibilities and the hopes of human beings, in a call for wake up and self-examination.
Our call is a call to action; and a call to return to a correct vision of the creation, the creator, and the harmonious relationship of humanity with creation.’
Further reading on COP27 news:
10 Spiritual Principles for Climate Repentance can be accessed here: https://climaterepentance.com/the-spiritual-principles/