COP27 or Cop Out 27?

As the dust settles on the 27th Conference of the Parties, Aveen McGahon, Solicitor within Mills Selig's Climate & Energy team reflects on the main wins and losses at COP27.

Date: Nov 24, 2022

The Loss and Damage Fund

The overarching win of this year’s COP was that, after three decades of conferences, a new funding arrangement on loss and damages was agreed to compensate countries most affected by climate change, who had little to do with bringing it about.

This was a historic win for its campaigners, months on from the immense flooding which struck Pakistan and devastated its landscape and people. This has been seen by many commentators as the most significant climate advance since the Paris Agreement at COP in 2015 when a global agreement was made to keep global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5C.

At the same time this win has highlighted the sheer hypocrisy of COP being, the celebration of setting up a loss and damage fund without actually tackling the root cause of the problem. A prime example of treating the symptoms but not the cause. However, it does finally show that globally we are in this together and that countries and communities already experiencing irreparable losses due to climate change will not be left behind.

The “Implementation” COP

High on the agenda was the implementation of the commitments made at last year’s COP26 in Glasgow. The UK government used the mantra “Cash, coal, cars and trees to keep the world to 1.5C” to highlight the four key commitments which COP26 focused on. Other than the establishment of the loss and damage fund, COP27 fell short on implementing its commitments and if anything backtracked with no follow ups or further pledges made to reducing emissions and global warming to 1.5C by all countries present at COP27.

The current energy crisis and in part, the war in Ukraine and its impact on energy markets is a key factor in the lack of further commitment. It is perhaps politically challenging to balance the increased ambition on 1.5C with tackling the more imminent energy crisis. However, this should be seen by governments as an opportunity to invest in renewables to shift towards a low carbon future as opposed to funding the new exploration of fossil fuels.


In order to reduce the loss and damages we inflict on ourselves we must keep global warming to 1.5C. We needed commitment to near term action plans in all countries to reduce emissions and that is what we did not see enough of. Instead, the softening of language around 1.5C and the lack of commitment following COP26 indicates COP27 was more of a cop out.

However, the success for those who have dedicated decades to campaigning for the establishment of a compensation fund for those worst hit by climate change is undeniable and for that on the balance of things COP27 achieved, in part, what it had set out to do.

Editorial prepared by Avenn McGahon, Solicitor, Climate & Energy @ Mills Selig

Aveen McGahon, Solicitor, Climate & Energy
Aveen works within the Climate & Energy team at Mills Selig.

The Climate and Energy team are experts in renewable energy and climate law and have a particular specialism in wind, solar, anaerobic digestion and battery storage projects.

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