Questions and answers on the Commission’s participation at COP27

  1. What is COP27?

The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), more commonly known as COP27, will take place from 6-18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. COP27 will bring together government negotiators, local authorities, businesses and civil society to discuss global climate action. Key aims for the conference include an increased global ambition on greenhouse gas reduction efforts to keep the temperature limits inscribed in the Paris agreement within reach, increased global efforts on adaptation and climate financing and making progress on supporting developing countries to tackle loss and damage. Parties will also work on other important topics including forests and agriculture, technology transfer, indigenous peoples and gender.

The Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, aims to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C, and to make financial flows consistent with climate objectives. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. 198 UNFCCC Parties adopted the Agreement, and 193 states and the EU have now ratified it.

  1. What are the EU’s expectations for COP27?

The EU expects world leaders and ministers in Sharm el-Sheikh to demonstrate their commitment to deliver on increased ambition. Accelerating climate action now is urgently needed to close the ambition gap to bring the world in line with the Paris Agreement’s temperature limit.

Since the Paris COP, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has described the profound, irreversible, and existential impacts associated with the climate crisis, underlining that only dramatic additional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can limit global warming to 1.5°C and avoid the worst consequences of human made climate change.

Despite commitments made at COP26, this year’s UNEP Emission Gap Report shows the international community is falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place. Policies currently in place point to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century. Implementation of the current pledges will reduce this to a 2.4-2.6°C temperature rise by the end of the century. It is therefore essential to maintain the political pressure and momentum at COP27, and to convince the world’s largest emitters, to take urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions more quickly.

Paris also set a goal for developed countries to collectively mobilise USD 100 billion per year, between 2020 and 2025, to support developing countries in cutting emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change. While the goal has not yet been reached, projections indicate that donor countries will deliver on their commitment by 2023. While the EU and its Member States are the largest contributor of international public climate finance with €23 billion in 2020 and 2021, there is an urgent need for other developed countries to contribute more. At COP27, the donor community must collectively reassure developing countries that it will deliver on this promise.

  1. What is the EU doing to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions?

The EU takes the lead in the global green transition and implementation of the Paris Agreement. With the European Climate Law in force since 2021, we have an ambitious, binding legislative framework covering all sectors of the economy in place to deliver on our climate targets. From 1990 to 2021, the EU’s total GHG emissions decreased by 30%, while its economy grew by over 60%.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made climate action the top priority for the EU, rolling out the European Green Deal together with Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans to make Europe the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050.

In December 2020, the EU further stepped up its ambition on climate action, and increased its nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 and reach climate neutrality by 2050. These targets are binding under the European Climate Law.

In July 2021, the European Commission presented a comprehensive package of legislative proposals, which set the course for the EU to reach its ambitious new GHG reductions in a fair, cost effective and competitive way. The package combines market-based mechanisms with more ambitious, legally binding targets for renewable energy, energy efficiency, the preservation and increase of natural carbon sinks, a faster roll-out of low emission transport, including the infrastructure and fuels to support them, as well as an alignment of taxation policies with the European Green Deal objectives and measures to prevent carbon leakage. In October 2022, the first agreement was reached on zero-emission cars by 2035. Negotiations on other elements of the package are expected to conclude by the end of this year.

In December 2021, the Commission also presented a first-ever EU legislative proposal to reduce methane emissions in the energy sector, as methane is a potent greenhouse gas. The proposal would require the oil, gas and coal sectors to measure, report and verify methane emissions, and sets strict rules to detect and repair methane leaks and to limit venting and flaring. It also puts forward global monitoring tools ensuring transparency of methane emissions from imports of oil, gas and coal into the EU, which will allow the Commission to consider further actions in the future.

In 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, its disruption of global supply chains and the knock-on effects on energy security and spiking gas prices the EU took decisive action with the REPowerEU Plan REPowerEU plan. Measures include:

  • boosting energy efficiency and energy saving actions with a proposal to increase from 9% to 13% the binding EU Energy Efficiency Target;
  • accelerating the rollout of renewables, and increase the EU headline 2030 target from 40% to 45%;
  • diversifying the EU’s energy supply with international partners.
  1. How does the Paris Agreement address adaptation and loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change?

The Paris Agreement establishes a global goal on adaptation to climate change, namely to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. The global stocktake, which will take place every five years starting from 2023, will review the overall progress towards this goal. The Paris Agreement also recognises the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with climate change, including extreme weather events, such as floods, landslides, storms and forest fires, and slow onset events such as the loss of fresh water aquifers and glaciers.

Adaptation is a key element of EU policy and planning. The European Commission adopted its Adaptation Strategy in February 2021 to make adaptation smarter, swifter and more systemic, as well as stepping up international action on adaptation to climate change. National, regional and local adaptation strategies are gaining ground since the adoption of the first EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. In addition our international cooperation in this area has gained prominence and a dedicated chapter in the strategy also reflects this. Today, 3,400 cities and local governments in the EU have committed to developing their adaptation capacity in the framework of the EU Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. The EU is committed to supporting partner countries to take climate action, including adaptation efforts. The share of EU climate finance targeted at adaptation is increasing, with particular focus on the most vulnerable countries. In 2021 around 40% of climate finance from the EU budget was dedicated to adaptation projects (excluding Member State funds).

In Sharm el-Sheikh, the EU will support efforts to strengthen the ability of the Paris Agreement to catalyse and scale up international support to vulnerable communities through different instruments such as early warning systems for extreme weather events; disaster preparedness and risk management; insurance schemes; humanitarian relief and recovery.

  1. How does the Paris Agreement ensure countries deliver on their commitments?

The enhanced transparency framework set up under the Paris Agreement will build mutual trust and confidence and promote effective implementation of the Paris commitments. It will track the progress made individually by Parties in the implementation of their NDCs, as well as provide data to support the global stocktakes and assess progress towards the long-term goals.

Solid multilateral transparency and accountability guidelines can also help countries design good policies at home, by providing an incentive to build and maintain domestic institutions, data collection and tracking systems that policymakers need to make the right decisions.

The transparency, accountability and compliance system under the Paris Agreement is not punitive, but it is meant to identify when Parties fall off track and help them to get back, if they are not delivering. The system is underpinned by comprehensive requirements and procedures applicable to all Parties to monitor progress and facilitate performance. These include technical expert reviews, a multilateral peer review process, and support from a standing committee on implementation and compliance.

  1. What does the Paris Agreement mean for the EU’s contribution to climate finance for developing countries?

At the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, developed countries collectively committed to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion of public and private climate finance per year by 2020. In Paris in 2015, this goal was extended until 2025. The funding should come from a wide variety of sources – public and private, bilateral and multilateral, and alternative sources of finance – in the context of meaningful mitigation action and transparent implementation by developing countries.

The EU, its Member States and the European Investment Bank are together the biggest contributor of public climate finance to developing countries, providing over €23 billion in 2021 alone. The EU and Member States are also the world’s top provider of official development assistance (a total €67 billion in 2020), with climate action being increasingly integrated into the assistance.

Overall, significant financial resources are needed to implement the Paris Agreement. Under the agreement, countries have committed to making finance flows consistent with a low-emission, climate-resilient pathway, to help achieve the long-term climate goals.

In this context, the EU has launched an ambitious sustainable finance agenda. The EU also supports developing countries in improving their conditions for mobilising low-carbon finance. In October 2019, the EU launched the International platform on sustainable finance (IPSF) to scale up the mobilisation of private capital towards environmentally sustainable investments. The platform now comprises 17 members, representing 55% of greenhouse gas emissions, 50% of the world population and 55% of global GDP.

  1. What is the role for non-state actors in climate action?

The Paris Agreement recognises the crucial role of non-state actors, businesses, local governments, cities and other organisations in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world.

The Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA) – also known as the Marrakech Partnership on Global Climate Action – was launched in 2016 to catalyse action on climate change by all players, to further increase ambition before 2020 and support the Paris Agreement goals.

The EU and its Member States have been proactive in promoting and sponsoring specific initiatives under the Global Climate Action Agenda, such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and Mission Innovation.

The high-level events on global climate action and the thematic days at COP27 will offer the opportunity to reflect on progress made under existing initiatives, as well as for announcements on new initiatives.