COP27 and COP15: the key takeaways

As one of the key annual conference on climate change, COP27 nevertheless drew to a close in Sharm el-Sheikh on a note of mitigated success. With the aim of decreasing, and even ending dependence on fossil fuels, the COP summits are a way of keeping track of the commitments made by countries on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. What in the end were the decisions taken at this 27th edition of COP? What does the future look like in the face of climate and social challenges? And what are the differences with the COP15 in Montreal? We take a look back at these major events, to unpack the agreements reached and the actions to be taken in the future by United Nations Member States.

A historic agreement with financial aid for "loss and damage"


The notable development at this COP27 was the establishment of a "loss and damage" fund. At the end of proceedings that went on for a day longer than initially scheduled, the Member States finally reached an agreement on this financial aid, the beneficiaries of which will for the most part be countries in the Southern hemisphere. 

Revealing the growing importance of climate justice, aid for "loss and damage" seeks to re-establish a fair balance for the countries hardest hit by climate change. It is intended to meet demands for reparations from poor countries which are suffering the consequences of climate change caused mainly by rich countries.  
How the fund will work and be financed will be determined by a "transitional committee" between now and the forthcoming COP28 summit, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates at the end of 2023. 
The European Union is one of the signatories and contributors. But neither China, nor the USA, took a final decision on this point at the end of the negotiations. 


The establishment of a fund is not about dispensing charity. it is clearly a downpayment on the longer investment in our joint Futures, it is a downpayment and an investment in climate justice.", Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's Minister of Climate Change.

The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, however expressed his mitigated opinion concerning this financial aid which he considers insufficient. Following COP27, he announced the organization of a summit in Paris in 2023 to establish a "new financial pact" with vulnerable countries. 

Keep to the limitation on global warming of 1.5°C


One of the major challenges for the future of our climate lies in limiting global warming of the planet, which must remain well below 2°C, compared to the pre-industrial era. The goal of 1.5°C was set out in the Paris agreement signed at COP21 in 2015, based on studies by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). To meet this goal, greenhouse gas emissions must level out between now and 2025; with a reduction in emissions of over 40% between now and 2030.

At COP27, the European Union does not envisage any retreat to be possible, but, on the contrary, encourages that this trajectory be maintained. Only, there is no mention of any new way of reinforcing the actions. A disappointment for the EU, as the policies currently in place are leading more towards global warming of +2.8°C

 

We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address", deplored the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

 

As the US president, Joe Biden, re-emphasized on his visit to COP27, the remainder of this target could be met by taking action on methane emissions. The reduction in this gas, responsible for 25% of the rise in temperatures since the industrial era, is attainable.  
The "Global Methane Pledge" signed at the COP26 in Glasgow by 103 countries, which have since been joined by fifty or so other countries with the aim of reducing their methane emissions by 30% by 2030. 

The IPCC has estimated that a 45% reduction in methane emissions by 2030 would make it possible to avoid 0.3°C of rise in temperatures by 2040, and 0.8°C by the end of the century.

 

Did you know?
Methane has a global warming potential that is 84 times higher than that of CO2 over a 20-year period. 

 

Statut quo on fossil fuels


Though 80% of energy consumed worldwide comes from fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil), the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions, COP27 did not address these fundamental questions. 
The end of fossil fuel subsidies has been confirmed. Yet, action on the exit from oil and gas continues to remain outstanding. 

A gradual phasing-out of coal-fired power plants was announced at the COP26 in Glasgow. This target was reaffirmed at COP27, backed by a call for an acceleration in renewable energies over the next 10 years. 
The final decision of COP27 is a reworking of that from COP26, which was in fact the 1st text to make any mention of fossil fuels, by calling to:

 

Accelerat[e] efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies

 

What are the differences between COP27 and COP15 ?


After COP27, now it's time for the COP15 in Montréal. Why is this conference taking place? And what distinguishes it from COP27?

At the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the COP devoted to the climate were created. But, two other conventions were also ratified at the same time: the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The UNCCD gave rise to the "desertification COP", which has been held every two years since 1997. And the CBD resulted in the "biodiversity COP", the 15th edition of which was held in Montréal. 

The COP15 in Montréal concluded with a major agreement between 190 countries, which made a commitment to protect 30% of natural terrestrial and marine ecosystems from the effects of pollution and the climate crisis, by 2030. Currently, only 17% of the planet's land and 8% of its oceans are protected. 

Another important distinguishing feature of this COP: the recognition of the role of indigenous peoples in the protection of biodiversity. From 2025, 20 billion dollars of aid a year will be provided to countries in the Southern hemisphere, which are breeding grounds for biodiversity, with this figure set to rise to 30 billion dollars as of 2030. 

 

Did you know?
In 2022, Orano adopted its own strategy for the protection of biodiversity, in line with its climate commitment. The strategy is based on 3 pillars: preserving, co-existing with and promoting biodiversity on the group's sites.


3 key facts about Orano's commitment to preserving biodiversity: 

  • The preservation of the environment with Orano's commitment not to operate sites located in zones facing biodiversity challenges, as defined by UNESCO guidelines. 

  • The introduction of measures to manage a balanced co-existence with natural ecosystems on sites: the provision of insect hotels, spaces left open for bats instead of closing off access to certain mining galleries, or the specific monitoring of particular species, such as the peregrine falcon, etc.

  • Ecological reclamation actions such as the development of plant and animal species in the Marais Roger area to the north of the used fuel recycling site at La Hague. Nearly 35% of Orano's uranium mines have been transformed into areas of ecological and/or forest land.

Interview with Gilles Récoché, Vice President, Responsibility, Engagement & Communication

  • Nuclear energy emits 70 times less CO2 than coal, 40 times less than gas, 4 times less than solar energy, 2 times less than hydraulic energy, and the same as wind energy.
  • Thanks to nuclear energy, the proportion of fossil energies (coal, oil, and gas) in French electricity generation is now only 7% versus 66% in 1970.
  • Electricity generation is the top source of CO2 emissions in the world due to the use of fossil energies (coal and gas).
  • Across the globe, nuclear energy prevents the emission of 2 billion metric tons of CO2  each year, equivalent to total emissions from 400 million cars.
  • The steam released from the cooling towers of nuclear power plants does not contain CO2 ; it is only water vapor. It is harmless for people and for the environment.
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