“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba is in a black-out. And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis.”
These impassioned words were recently delivered by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the adverse impacts of climate change. It is clear that nature and humans are strained beyond their capacity for adaptation, and the most vulnerable people and systems are experiencing the most negative effects.
The significance of these climate impacts seen around the world is matched by the collaborative work ahead. As Guterres highlights: “Emissions are at an all-time high and rising. The world can’t wait”.
Accordingly, the world is looking to COP27 with high expectations. The climate conference will focus on four core topics, including the issue of collaboration. Here, we will examine why international partnership is crucial to limiting global warming.
Strong partnerships for climate action are needed
During the last decade, much technological progress has been made towards slowing down global warming. However, less has been achieved in terms of negotiation and implementation. Governance of the global climate action effort is provided by the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). During the annual Conferences of Parties to the convention, or COPs, governments and other institutions work together towards limiting warming to 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial levels. Since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Global North has pledged US$100 billion for climate solutions. The signing of the Glasgow Climate Pact at COP26 strengthened the global agreement to scale up climate action between now and 2030.
Thus, this year’s COP, COP27, is widely seen as being the first ‘COP of implementation’. Parties will be held to fulfilling these commitments. There will be a strong global push for climate finance to help bridge the funding gap for climate mitigation and adaptation projects in the Global South.
But climate action cannot be done by governments alone. The private sector will play an important role in helping countries meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Global leaders and other stakeholders must take the opportunity to build partnerships and secure a sustainable future for all at COP27.
Close international collaboration can speed up immediate and near-term action which goes far beyond the ambition and investments set until now. This requires scaling up a wide range of cooperative initiatives to quickly transition all sectors towards net zero emissions, while simultaneously building climate resilience around the world.
The only way is through collaboration
Climate action is an ongoing process, not a single event, and it requires strong and long-lasting partnerships. Collaboration is needed more than ever. But in reality, international collaboration is not easy. It requires strong leadership, investment in people, mutual trust, and reliability. All this takes time.
Meanwhile, the trust deficit between communities is growing. There is a growing sense of over-promising but under-delivering from the Global North creating even more climate injustice. There is a risk that the space to find common ground is slowly disappearing in a world where the carbon budget is rapidly decreasing. Decisions need to be made on the question of loss and damage, as “failure to act” will lead to “more loss of trust and more climate damage,” Guterres said, describing it as “a moral imperative that cannot be ignored”.
COP27 will therefore play an important role in rebuilding trust by implementing promised actions. The world needs clarity from the Global North on the delivery of its US$100 billion pledge to support climate action in the Global South.
Given current geopolitical tensions and their multiple impacts, it is more vital than ever that COP27 succeeds in restoring trust in the negotiation process, strengthening collaborative efforts, promoting exchange programmes, and laying the road for the ambitious actions needed for accountable climate action. Because on every climate front, the only solution is solidarity and decisive action.