Perspective  | 

Seven key takeaway messages from COP27

by Kristen P. Patterson
Display at COP27
Credit: Kristen P. Patterson

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Project Drawdown engaged with myriad colleagues and partner institutions from around the world at COP27. We are pleased to share these reflections from Drawdown Lift’s director, Kristen P. Patterson, who leads our work to prioritize climate change solutions that generate multiple benefits for boosting well-being, strengthening resilience, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

The annual United Nations climate meeting wrapped up recently in Egypt. As we reflect upon the summit, I would like to share seven thoughts about #COP27, with an eye towards three topics that are critical for a just and equitable future for all—climate justice, gender equality, and emergency brake solutions.

1) Loss and damage - High income countries arrived at COP27 like my teenager with headphones on—clueless about what the rest of the world had been saying for months, namely that wealthy countries must set up a fund to deal with climate impacts like floods and droughts in low-and middle-income countries. The world hasn’t acted quickly enough on mitigation, nor on adaptation, so now we must add reparations to the mix. Major kudos to the negotiators, including government staff as well as NGO representatives, from developing countries who achieved this outcome. Yes, agreeing to create a fund (akin to the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund) is just a first step. But it's an important one.

2) Women's leadership - We should all be in awe of Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's minister for climate change, who I was honored to have met briefly at COP27. She led a group of 134 (!) countries that negotiated the loss and damage outcome. Having more women in the halls of COP27 and at the negotiation table is critical.

3) Gender equality - We desperately need the skills of all women to solve the climate crisis—regardless of whether they are from rural or urban areas, or are rich or poor. Imagine if women had been more prominent in climate negotiations or held more leadership positions over the past three decades. As we mark the 8 billion milestone this month, full bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and quality universal education are in fact key pillars of climate justice and adaptation; we can and should do more to integrate reproductive rights into climate.

4) Methane - Curbing methane—a fast-acting GHG that is responsible for nearly 45 percent of current net warming (0.5 C out of 1.1C)—is absolutely essential. We need to act decisively to reduce methane by 30% by 2030. By winning the sprint on methane, we give ourselves a bit more time to complete the marathon on other long-acting GHGs like carbon dioxide by 2050.

5) Clean cooking - A major source of black carbon (aka soot), traditional cooking using wood, crop residues, and dried dung is terrible for women, young children, their health, and the environment. In six countries (DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda, and Tanzania), just five percent or less of the population has access to clean cooking. Providing women-informed and locally-appropriate clean cooking to the 2.4 billion people who lack access would be a huge win for gender equality, health, and the climate, and was highlighted in many COP27 events.

6) Nature - Protecting and restoring the ecosystems upon which we all depend is critical. President-elect Lula da Silva's commitments to re-engage Brazil, along with the DRC and Indonesia, in protecting major tropical forests were very welcomed. Many discussions and presentations focused on the role that tropical forest systems and agricultural and agroforestry systems can play for both adaptation and mitigation as well as for boosting food security.

7) Solutions - We don't need to reinvent the wheel - we have the solutions in hand to solve the climate crisis. Drawdown Lift’s Climate-Poverty Connections report, released earlier this year, highlights 28 proven solutions that contribute to well-being and the SDGs, climate adaptation, and climate mitigation. Working together with individuals, governments, donors, and the private sector, we can advance actions that support low-carbon pathways to socioeconomic development, improve health, and address the climate crisis.

Looking ahead, the Drawdown Lift team at Project Drawdown is eager to further engage with colleagues we met at COP27 and our Lift Advisory Council members as we collaboratively lead the way forward for a more just and equitable future.

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