Feedback on COP27, Advent and Planning for 2023
Presentation by Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy and Communications, CAFOD
Neil was a delegate for the Holy See (the Vatican) to COP26 and COP27. He told us that what was different about COP27 was that the Holy See had acceded to the Paris Agreement (2015) and so are now a party to the COP for the first time (as a State). This happened toward the end of October 2022 and it is worth noting that signing up comes with difficulties and challenges. It requires commitment. Preparation was minimal in terms of time, so the Vatican was not able to prepare this time in the way they probably will in future.
COPs have a direct impact influence on countries’ economies and policies, unlike e.g. The Sustainability Goals, which are voluntary. There are accountability and transparency mechanisms which is vital for the principles behind the COP and the impact it will have moving forward. What happens at COP matters because it has to be taken back to countries domestically.
The fault lines are clear between the countries that caused the climate crisis through historic emissions (UK, US, France, Germany etc.) and those that didn’t (Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, India etc.) The common, yet differentiated, responsibilities between the two groups are held by some as a matter of principle and have political consequences.
At a COP there are actual negotiations and political signals (found primarily in the cover text).
- The cover text included food, rivers, nature-based solutions and right to a healthy environment for the first time.
- Innovative financing options were part of the discussions and included in the cover text.
- Negotiating streams dealt with:
- Averting the climate crisis (mitigation)
- Minimising the harm from climate change (adaptation)
- Addressing the harm already done (loss and damage)
- A fund for loss and damage (compensation) has been agreed in principle and a transition group has been set up to work out the detail of how this is to be done.
- Excellent expert report presented on reaching net zero and calling out greenwashing.
- Sharm El-Sheikh Programme of Work established to take forward issues on food.
COP27 could have been worse – the first pavilion was a HUGE Saudi Arabian pavilion. Egypt was the president of COP27 and this first pavilion told a story of the influence the Saudi Arabians had on them.
Best expressed by Alok Sharma (UK COP26 President) in his closing remarks at COP27:
“Emissions peaking before 2025, as the science tells us is necessary.
Not in this text.
Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal.
Not in this text.
A clear commitment to phase out all fossil fuels.
Not in this text.
And the energy text, weakened, in the final minutes.
Friends, I said in Glasgow that the pulse of 1.5 degrees was weak.
Unfortunately, it remains on life support.”Alok Sharma, COP27, Closing Remarks
- The Climate crisis continues to hit people hard and fast.
- The influence of fossil fuels companies took over.
- No strengthening of 1.5 targets or phasing out fossil fuels, even though UK government strong stance on these negotiations.
- Climate finance – targets still not met from 2009 – big disappointment.
- From CAFOD and Holy See point of view – disappointment with the narrow, productionist, approach to food systems. Nature/people outlook didn’t get a look in.
CAFOD, Holy See, and the Future
The Holy See made a number of interventions.
- Pressed for a comprehensive view of food systems, as found in Laudato Si’.
- Asked for separate financial mechanism for loss and damage. Taken notice of by other states. Thanked by the small island states for doing it.
- Positive as a Catholic family for our voice to be heard.
- In the build-up CAFOD had done work with partners. African Climate Dialogues. Brought partner voices into the COP.
- Hope to be stronger and better prepared for the next COP. Early preparation is important.
- It is important for us to think about pushing the UK Government.
- We need to push on loss and damage, the food system as a national discussion (also the next CAFOD campaign.)
Q & A:
- What is the best way to push the UK government? Contacting MPs and being consistent is strong and don’t be afraid to send evidence. The more who speak the better – especially if they are Conservative.
- How does the work of the Holy See filter down through the Diocese level? If only – Being a part of the Holy See is seen as a government. A report will be done for the Bishops Conference of England and Wales by Neil Thorns and a suggestion has been made that the Holy See themselves do this but it is not simple.
- Was there a presence of other faiths? There are various groups recognised such as Indigenous groups, there is a strong representation of faith groups which is great to see.
- How influential are the side groups? Not one answer to this but if you see COP in the two ways – political/negotiating but then also the conversation that happens outside such as deals and agreements making traction.
- Has there been writing following COP27? Formal writing is not shared from my knowledge. Church globally sees this as important enough to take action – Bishops/Cardinals can be asked how we are translating the Paris agreement into our local realities. A bottom-up approach.
Question: What is your response to Neil’s presentation? Where do you think we are now and what do you think will be important in 2023?
Next Southern Dioceses Environment Network Meetings
Monday, 9 January 2023, 12.45-2.00pm – Joint meeting
To start the year, the Northern Dioceses Environment Group and Southern Dioceses Environment Network will be meeting together to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead in 2023.
The meeting will hear from the Diocese of Salford that has been carrying out extensive surveys of all parish and diocesan buildings to develop a decarbonisation pathway and to help prioritise decarbonisation projects.
We will also get an update on the Guardians of Creation initiative with a focus on the engaging parishioners in the ‘ecological conversion’ we all need to make if we are to respond with urgency to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Monday 13 Feb 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 13 March 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 15 May 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 12 June 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 10 July 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 11 Sept 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 9 Oct 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 13 Nov 12.45-2.00pm
Monday 11 Dec 12.45-2.00pm
Journey to 2030 Updates:
From the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW):
Advent with Jesuit Missions: 17-24 December: ‘See Beyond the Headlines’ – Sign up or login to help create a more just world this Christmas.