Whatever Happens At COP27, the Climate Story Gets Bigger

The climate summit is a fast-moving story. Here’s what we’re watching.

Climate activists demonstrated in front of the International Convention Center to protest the negative effects of climate change, as the UN climate summit COP27 continues in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (Photo by Mohamed Abdel Hamid via Getty Images)

Within hours of its scheduled conclusion, COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh has been extended until Saturday, the AFP reports, with observers expressing dismay at how much work remains to be done. We’re writing this before COP27 concludes, so we don’t know what the final agreement might say. We are monitoring developments and next week will send out a compilation of the best post-mortem analyses of what was, and was not, achieved at COP27. (To keep tabs on the summit’s final days, check out the Guardian’s live blog.)

Whatever ends up in the final agreement at COP27, the climate story will only get bigger.  The work of every COP continues long after delegates have departed. Pledges are one thing. What matters most is how well governments and other powerful interests implement such pledges. Journalists are indispensable to holding those interests to account. Below are key themes for journalists to scrutinize in COP27’s remaining hours and the weeks and months ahead.

  1. Will “loss and damage” be included in the summit agreement?

COP27 was widely billed as the climate summit where “loss and damage” would finally get a hearing. It did, and that in itself counts as progress, but agreement remains elusive. Highly climate vulnerable countries united behind a proposal by the Group of 77 to create a fund, financed by rich countries, that would pay poor countries for the climate impacts they disproportionately suffer and did little to cause. The US has been skeptical of such a fund, but a far-reaching proposal the European Union put forward Friday morning shuffled the negotiating dynamics.

In what the EU’s chief climate negotiator Frans Timmermanns described as “a final officer,” the EU proposed “a loss and damage finance facility for the most vulnerable countries in exchange for a pledge to phase down oil, gas, and coal,” reported Bloomberg. Specifics, including which countries would be eligible for payments, under what terms, and which countries would finance the fund, would then be negotiated over the coming year. But Timmermanns made it clear that the donors should include not only the EU and other rich countries but also China, the world’s second largest historical emitter of heat-trapping gases. Reaction from climate vulnerable countries and activists was mixed, with some welcoming the breakthrough and others stating that such aid should come with no strings attached. Timmermanns, however, emphasized that this must be “a package deal” — a loss and damage fund in return for phasing down all fossil fuels, fast.

  1. Will 1.5 Stay Alive?

Governments pledged at COP26 to come to COP27 with strengthened national climate plans that will limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Those pledges have largely gone unmet, despite some encouraging initiatives.

India proposed a “phase down” of all fossil fuels — not only coal, which was agreed on at COP26, but also oil and gas — before the EU echoed that call in its dramatic intervention Friday morning. But these calls for a fossil fuel phase down all carry a massive caveat: Countries would have to stop burning only “unabated” fossil fuels. In other words, they could still burn oil, gas, and coal if the resulting CO2 emissions were captured and stored or offset. Activists poured scorn on that provision, pointing out that offsets have a mixed record at best in cutting emissions even as they inflict more pollution on disadvantaged communities.

Highlighting the controversial role of offsets is also critical as journalists cover the roll-out of two other initiatives unveiled this week. The US, the EU, and Japan agreed to provide $20 billion to subsidize Indonesia shifting from fossil fuel to renewable energy. Indonesia also joined Brazil and the Democratic of Congo to pledge that the three countries — collectively, home to more than half of the world’s tropical rainforests — will halt deforestation, in part by requesting that the international community pay them to leave their forests standing.

As COP27 enters its final hours, with much news still to report, CCNow expresses our gratitude to the many journalistic colleagues who have been shining a light on the events at the summit these past two weeks. We know that you have been working under challenging conditions. You’re in the final stretch — hang in there!

From us

Call to action. On Tuesday, the Guardian and more than 30 global media partners, including CCNow, co-published an editorial calling for urgent action on the climate crisis. “As a bare minimum, a windfall tax on the combined profits of the largest oil and gas companies needs to be enacted.” We encourage you to share this widely. Read it here.

World Cup. The climate links to this World Cup, starting Sunday in Qatar, paint a vivid picture of how a warming planet is transforming sports. In the coming weeks, billions of fans will tune in to the tournament, including many who aren’t traditional news consumers. For journalists, that’s a can’t-miss opportunity to communicate the gravity and scope of the climate problem, writes CCNow deputy director Andrew McCormick. Read it here.

CCNow Q&A. Keisuke Katori, a science reporter for one of Japan’s largest newspapers, the Asahi Shimbun, talks about coverage of COP27, a media collaboration in Japan focused on the importance of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees C, and the world’s worrisome reversion to coal. Read it here. 

Twitter Spaces rewind. Yesterday, we discussed progress on the ground at COP27, with a focus on climate justice and disinformation. Guests included Ryan Bachoo, Climate Tracker; Jennie King, Institute for Strategic Dialogue & Climate Action Against Disinformation; Laura Millan Lombrana, Bloomberg; Zoha Tunio, Inside Climate News. Listen. 

Noteworthy stories

Right direction. The EPA has proposed new methane regulations for the oil and gas industry that would drastically reduce emissions of the gas. Sharp reductions in methane, the second leading cause of climate change after carbon dioxide, are considered key to slowing global heating in the short term. By Phil McKenna at Inside Climate News…

World Cup. Players and spectators at the World Cup will be visiting stadiums, lounging in hotels, and riding transportation that have been built almost entirely by foreign workers — some fleeing climate change — thousands of whom have died in Qatar over the last decade due to extreme heat made worse by climate change. By Aryn Baker at TIME…

Climate starvation. Climate change–induced drought has left Somalia on the brink of famine, with nearly half of the country’s population of 16 million facing extreme hunger. Every minute a Somalian child enters a healthcare facility due to hunger and related complications. By Debora Patta and Sarah Carter at CBS News…

Toxic pollution. The practice of gas flaring is routinely carried out by companies producing oil in Nigeria. “My children are always falling sick because of the gas flaring,” said Barineka Eka, a mother of four, whose home is a 20 minutes’ drive away from a refinery in the Niger Delta. About 2 million people live about 2.5 miles from a gas flare there, an area long associated with international oil suppliers such as Chevron, Exxon, and Shell. By Samuel Ajala at Gas Outlook…

Less is more? On a physically finite planet, is it really possible for economies to keep growing indefinitely? Virtually every government in the world continues to insist that endless economic growth is imperative, but mounting environmental consequences have given the degrowth movement new buoyancy. By Julia Horowitz at CNN…

Better lunch. New York has reintroduced The Good Food New York Bill, which would allow the state’s public institutions to source food from vendors that align with five core values: support of local economies, environmental sustainability, a valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. Programs dedicated to “values-based procurement” have been adopted by 24 cities across the US. By H Conley at City Limits…

Free to publish

The following stories deserve special consideration for republication by CCNow partners:

For partner outlets: The full list of stories available for republication and instructions to do so can be found in our Sharing Library. To submit stories for sharing, please use this form.


Food. The podcast ‘Climavores’ will talk with NYU professor Marion Nestle about food history, nutrition, and eating for a healthy planet. November 30. RSVP. 

Jobs, etc.

Jobs. The Miami Herald is seeking a climate change multimedia engagement reporter. Climate Central is looking for a general manager for its Realtime Climate initiative.

Fellowship. MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative is recruiting journalism fellows.

Youth leaders. The Aspen Institute’s Future Leaders Climate Summit is accepting applications from people interested in climate change between the ages of 18 to 30. The summit will be held from March 3 – 6, 2023 in Miami, Florida.