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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# Temperature Check
Newsletter: COP27 is already an uphill battle
Read an extract from The Journal’s climate newsletter sent straight from Egypt.

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This is an extract from Temperature Check, The Journal’s climate newsletter, which is sending special daily editions for COP27. A more detailed edition was sent yesterday evening on the first day of the conference.

Sign up in the box at the end of this article to receive Temperature Check during COP27 and once a month afterwards to your email inbox for free.

Remember Glasgow?

That’s where we sent the first edition of our climate newsletter from back in November 2021. My former colleague Orla Dwyer reported on COP26 throughout the two weeks of the conference, tracking its highs and lows

As those two weeks progressed, watching the conference play out became almost similar to watching a slow-burning horror film. The protagonists kept creeping further away from where they should be going and all those who were watching could do was shout at the screen.

That was because an initial momentum to have a strong commitment on cutting the use of fossil fuels was watered down until the summit ended with a much-weakened version of what was initially proposed.

On Day One of COP27, there were fears this conference might be heading down the same path – this time, on loss and damage.

IMG-77312 Lauren Boland / The Journal The sun sets on the first day of COP27 Lauren Boland / The Journal / The Journal

Vulnerable nations 

“Loss and damage arising from the adverse effects of climate change can include those related to extreme weather events but also slow onset events, such as sea level rise, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, glacial retreat and related impacts, salinization, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity and desertification,” the United Nations explains.

In other words, it’s the way that countries, particularly those most vulnerable, are impacted by the climate crisis.

Importantly, the concept involves how the developed world plans to respond to those impacts, but some countries would rather do less than others.

Despite opposition, loss and damage has made it onto the official agenda – good news – but with stipulations that mean it is already falling short of the progress that campaigners say must be made – not so good news.

“The defining issue of this COP is loss and damage,” Policy and Advocacy Officer at Christian Aid Ireland Ross Fitzpatrick said.

He told me that “for the likes of us civil society [representatives], it’s our main ask”.

“African countries are responsible for 4% of global emissions historically and yet, it is these countries that have experienced the worst impacts on the ground.”

He said the inclusion of loss and damage on the agenda was a win given that it is the first time it has been included on the official agenda of any COP and shouldn’t be discounted. However, the efforts by rich emitters responsible for climate change to water it down mean that “even though it’s there in name, the principles which underline it – namely, the ‘polluter pays’ principle – has been totally undermined”.

Horn of Africa

Head of Policy and Advocacy at Trócaire Siobhan Curran expects that the perception of whether this COP is a success will hinge on loss and damage.

“For us, what’s been thrown into sharp relief this year has been, for example, the situation in the Horn of Africa where the losses and damages that people are experiencing are massive,” she said.

“It’s the poorest people and the poorest countries in the world who are paying the price for this crisis that’s not of their making, so it’s a huge injustice.”

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