Media reaction to the end of COP27 was interesting for the divergent tone of different outlets.
Several – notably the Guardian and FT – highlighted the failure of the conference delegates to agree to fade out the use of fossil fuels. The strength of the oil producing lobby was seen as a major stumbling block which left the world on ‘the brink of disaster’.
Others, such as the BBC, Sky News and The Washington Post chose a more positive line, leading with the historic agreement on a loss and damage fund to support developing countries.
Right of centre commentators in the UK and Australia railed against the loss and damage fund (and particularly, the lack of insistence that China pays in) while the carbon offset credit system barely got out of the starting blocks.
Officials agreed to put off decisions on which projects – wind farms, tree planting, solar farms – will be allowed to generate carbon offset credits. Without this, how can any meaningful carbon credit system work? And nobody could say whether simply avoiding emissions – e.g. by not cutting down forests – would qualify for credits.
Most disturbingly, in the chaos of the conference, no progress was made on a reduction in fossil fuel usage. The final communique included the phrase ‘low emission energy’ alongside renewables as fuels for the future. No-one defined whether this meant nuclear, hydrogen or even gas (which is lower emission than oil and coal).
One of the most powerful images was when the BBC’s climate editor, Justin Rowlatt, approached the Saudi delegation to ask what they meant by ‘low emission energy’. The delegate simply turned his back on question and questioner.
With 1.5° temperature rise now buried in the science section of the final report, rather than the main statement, the overall sense is that COP27 has watered down the commitments made in Glasgow last year. The furious countenance of UK lead negotiator Alok Sharma showed his considerable disappointment. And yet, for nations in Africa, the Caribbean and across the Pacific, the loss and damage agreement is significant.
As regards net zero, once again, it’s down to business to pick up the ball and run with it ourselves. To find out how we can help you do just that, check out our guide to purpose-driven PR.