What happened at COP27 and other climate change news

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  • This weekly round-up brings you key climate change stories from the past seven days.
  • Top COP27, climate change and environment stories: COP27 deal delivers historic climate fund; G7 announces ‘Global Shield’ insurance fund; Biden and Xi to resume climate cooperation; Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva pledges to recommit nation to climate action.

1. COP27 delivers climate fund breakthrough at cost of progress on emissions

Countries closed this year’s UN climate summit on 20 November with a hard-fought deal to create a fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters, even as many lamented its lack of ambition in tackling the emissions causing them.

The deal was widely lauded as a triumph for responding to the devastating impact that global warming is already having on vulnerable countries. But many countries said they felt pressured to give up on tougher commitments for limiting global warming to 1.5°C in order for the landmark deal on the loss and damage fund to go through.

The deal marked a diplomatic coup for small islands and other vulnerable nations in winning over the 27-nation European Union and the United States, which had long resisted the idea for fear that such a fund could open them to legal liability for historic emissions.

2. News in brief: More top COP27 and climate change stories to read this week

Pakistan, Ghana and Bangladesh will be among the first recipients of funding from a G7 “Global Shield” initiative to help countries suffering climate disasters. The programme, announced at COP27, aims to provide climate-vulnerable countries with rapid access to insurance and disaster protection funding after floods or drought. It is being developed with the “V20” group of 58 climate-vulnerable economies.

More than 150 countries have signed up to a global pact to reduce methane emissions, around 50 more than when the initiative launched last year, the United States and European Union said on 17 November.

Brazil’s incoming President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva received a superstar welcome at COP27 on 16 November as he pledged to recommit Brazil to tackling the climate crisis and offered to hold future UN climate talks. “I’m here today to say that Brazil is ready to come back,” Lula said.

US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed on 14 November to resume cooperation on climate change and other issues, offering a boost to bogged-down and behind-schedule negotiations at COP27. The leaders of the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases met at the G20 summit.

India will prioritize a phased transition to cleaner fuels and slashing household consumption to achieve net zero emissions by 2070, according to a national report released on 14 November at COP27. The report sketches out how the world’s second-biggest consumer of coal will meet its decarbonization pledge.

The European Union plans to update its emissions-cutting target under the Paris climate accord, the EU climate policy chief told COP27, with the upgrade expected before next year’s United Nations climate summit.

The United States aims to only sell and produce zero-emissions medium- and heavy-duty vehicles like school buses and tractor trailers by 2040, the country’s energy secretary agreed at COP27. The non-binding memorandum of understanding sets a target for 30% of those new vehicles – which include commercial delivery vehicles, buses and trucks – to be zero-emission by 2030 and 100% by 2040.

COP27 host Egypt is close to signing final agreements to build two wind and solar projects with combined capacity of 1 gigawatt, to boost the country’s lagging renewable power development. The two new projects, with a combined cost of over $1 billion, are both backed by the International Finance Corporation, which approved them at board level in the first week of the summit.

Meanwhile, in Bali, leaders at the G20 meeting on 16 November agreed to pursue efforts to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5°C and recognized the need to speed up efforts to phase down coal use.

Turkey will aim to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to 41% below business-as-usual levels by 2030, raising the target from 21%, Environment Minister Murat Kurum says.

More than half of cities with pledges to reach net zero emissions have no plan for how they’ll track and report progress, according to analysis by research consortium Net Zero Tracker published during the COP27 summit.

The world’s three largest rainforest nations Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia have formally launched a partnership to cooperate on forest preservation, after a decade of on-off talks on a trilateral alliance.

2. Carbon market talks to drag on beyond COP27

Talks to establish carbon offset markets to allow countries to buy credits to partly achieve their climate pledges will drag on beyond the COP27 summit and into next year, according to observers and a negotiator involved in the UN talks.

It might still be years before countries can offset their emissions with credits based on greenhouse gas-reducing projects elsewhere, under an international carbon market first called for in Article 6 of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

“After years of negotiations about whether carbon markets under the Paris Agreement would actually exist, now they are at the stage of actually setting them up,” said Jonathan Crook, Policy Analyst at the non-profit Carbon Market Watch.

A draft document of around 60 pages, published on 16 November, outlines how inter-country carbon trading might function, but it contains many sections still up for debate and pointers to future decisions.

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3. Young people given a voice at COP27

Eleven-year-old Indian climate activist Licypriya Kangujam’s dogged questioning of Britain’s Climate Minister Zac Goldsmith about the fate of climate activists detained in his country was one of the most striking moments in the COP27 global warming talks.

“We need to hold lawmakers accountable for their political decisions,” she told Reuters.

Kangujam is the founder of the Child Movement fighting for climate justice and she wasn’t the only child at COP27 hoping that delegates would recognize the struggles of Generations Z and Alpha, those born from 1996 to 2024.

Organizers of the summit say children were given greater importance, with a designated youth envoy and a pavilion for children and youth at the conference.

Mustafa, a 12-year-old boy from the Upper Egyptian city of Minya on the western bank of the Nile River, went to COP27 with non-profit Save the Children to share his experience.

“We have very heavy rain in the village during winter,” he said. Streets turn to muddy rivers and power outages blanket the town in darkness. Often, he said, he struggles to get to school.

4. More on COP27 and climate change on Agenda

For more on what young climate leaders said at COP27, read this round-up of key quotes.

As the historic climate justice deal is agreed, high-emitting nations have long needed to do more for the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, says a professor of political science.

Here are three ways businesses can take action in the fight against climate change, according to PwC Global Chairman Bob Moritz and Antonia Gawel, the World Economic Forum’s Head of Climate and Deputy Head of the Centre for Nature & Climate.

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