The magnitude of COP27 only dawned me upon its’ commencement. The scale of the event exceeded my imagination, almost akin to Alice discovering Wonderland after wandering down the rabbit hole. Looking at the sheer number of pavilions spread across a wide area, we spent all of Sunday exploring the blue zone after picking up our badges. One of the key highlights of my first day was a touch of nostalgia amidst the familiar sights, when I stumbled across the IFRC pavilion, the organization where I have volunteered for almost eleven years.
The blue zone, which hosted the side events of COP27 was a universe by itself. A diverse range of pavilions representing countries, NGOs, and other private sector actors with different visions and interests working together to identify solutions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. I was fortunate to follow a very interesting discussion between the Benelux countries and the Antwerp port CEO regarding the initiative of transforming the energy production of the port towards a 100% hydrogen based source. Following up on my curiosity I participated in a follow-up discussion about the sourcing of the hydrogen, including its form, the support from the Belgian Government towards this initiative, the policies that could potentially lead towards a larger transition to cleaner fuels in Belgium and the broader EU region, etc. I was in awe of the CEO’s technical knowledge and passion for the environment, which further impressed upon me the crucial role of the private sector in combatting the adverse effects of climate change.
It was heartening to observe the increased recognition and participation of the private sector towards identifying solutions to the climate crises. This was reflected in both the terminology, “public and private resources” as well as in recognition of the magnitude of the private sector. Private companies are understanding the importance of being environmentally friendly and carbon neutral and are trying to shift their production chain in these channels, attracting more clients while creating a positive trend.
A large part of my COP27 period was following the negotiations amongst countries regarding loss and damage, adaptation, climate financing, etc. I was very eager to try to understand the process even though it was much larger than I could fully absorb. In the beginning, the negotiations were more deliberate and closely related to ToRs, Structures, and other terminology that I wasn’t familiar with, which laid the framework for the overall negotiation process. The third day the negotiations started to heat up and continued to be more and more interesting in the following days. The Adaptation Fund negotiation was one of the critical aspects of the conference, characterized by substantive albeit heated discussions. In the initial phase, the involved parties were generally in favor of the proposed text by the secretariat. The negotiation here was on specific terminology, where the developed countries wanted to avoid mentions of specific financial commitments ($ 100 million) from paragraph 7 in favor of a more generalized context, while the developing countries were pushing a more aggressive position, insisting on changes to the terminology towards “at least doubling the financial commitments” for improved resource availability. One memorable incident of these negotiations was regarding the participation of the US representative in negotiations pertaining to the Kyoto Protocol. The US delegation left the discussions in protest, after their standing in the discussions was questioned and subsequently dismissed amidst heated debate, in light of their failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol themselves.
In the end, COP27 was a life-changing opportunity for me and I am very grateful to Duke university for making this dream come true. As the first week is over, I look forward to the progress of week two and the final texts of the secretariat reflecting the decisions made in the negotiations, and hope for positive outcomes.