COP27, held over the past few weeks in Egypt, represented an opportunity to phase out fossil fuel consumption. However, despite the urgency of the climate crisis, the international community once again concluded the meeting with no firm commitments or exit strategies.
In the days leading up to the summit, Salud por Derecho asked the Spanish government and the rest of the countries to take a number of measures that we considered essential, namely: 1) to support a Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuels that would enable the decarbonisation of the economy and greater investment in clean energies that are beneficial to health; 2) to make the necessary commitments to ensure compliance with the Paris Agreements; 3) to include metrics on the health impact of climate change in adaptation plans that allow for the definition of specific and cross-cutting public policies on health; 4) to ensure a Financial Loss and Damage Fund with the necessary resources to address the impact of climate change in the most vulnerable countries, as well as the damages caused by deterioration in health as a result of the impact of climate change; 5) to make effective the financial commitment of 100 billion dollars per year for the consolidation of the Green Fund; 6) to ensure the protection of the right to health of climate migrants, promoting the necessary procedures and helping to avoid the global degradation of the right to asylum.
The result, however, is that COP27 has been a failure, largely due to the lack of progress on mitigation policies. While the commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is maintained, a clear commitment to phase out fossil fuel consumption is still a long way off. How and in what form the commitment made in the Paris Agreement will be achieved remains unknown, which is bad news at a time when the consequences of the climate crisis are unprecedented, as the recent report The Lancet Countdown to 2022 reminds us. An example of the lack of political will of many of the countries that participated in the summit is that neither gas nor oil are included in the agreement even though they are the main contributors to CO2 emissions and the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions along with coal.
Regarding adaptation policies, one of the main requests we have been making from civil society, including Salud por Derecho, is the creation of a Loss and Damage Fund. We welcome the fact that it finally made it onto the agenda, and the approval of its creation is undoubtedly the greatest achievement of this annual summit. However, no agreements were reached on essential aspects such as contributions, conditions, mechanisms etc. This economic guarantee fund, to which the most vulnerable countries with the least capacity to respond to climate disasters will have recourse, was as necessary as it was urgent. The next two years will therefore be crucial to establish, finance and define its implementation frameworks.
In terms of the importance of health as a cornerstone for addressing the agreements, its presence in the final text is limited to the inclusion of one of the most recent WHO resolutions – dated July 2022 – which recognises that “everyone, everywhere, has the human right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment”. However, besides recognising the newly acquired right, it is essential to make it effective in both specific and cross-cutting agreements that enable the implementation of health-focused adaptation policies.
Other key issues related to a possible binding treaty to curb the proliferation of fossil fuels or others related to financing are still challenges to keep pushing for in future summits.
Photo: Nick Humphries