The final agreement reached at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt met with open dismay as critics slammed its failure to set the world on a path to lower use of fossil fuels.
A deal hammered out for release early on Sunday was praised for one big positive in the form of progress on a ‘loss and damage fund’ to help poorer nations tackle the costs incurred by global warming, but otherwise branded a huge, missed opportunity that gives the green light to emissions-causing hydrocarbons remaining embedded in the global economy.
German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock summed up the frustration of many when she claimed more robust action over fossil fuels was “stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers”.
While the text reiterates ambitions to phase down unabated coal and “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”, it also commits nations to "enhancing a clean energy mix, including low-emission and renewable energy", raising fears over interpretations of “low emission” and how that could be used to justify an expanded use of fossil gas, including via its role in blue hydrogen production.
Efforts to include a commitment to phase out all fossil fuels reportedly failed after a clutch of major hydrocarbon producers and consumers refused to back it.
The COP27 agreement retains a historic commitment to seek to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, but numerous commentators said that looks further away than ever.
UN secretary general António Guterres said: “Our planet is still in the emergency room.
“We need to drastically reduce emissions now, and this is an issue this COP did not address. To have any hope of keeping to 1.5°C, we need to massively invest in renewables and end our addiction to fossil fuels.”
UK chief negotiator Alok Sharma – who chaired COP26 a year ago – said while the battle for 1.5°C had a weak pulse after Glasgow, it now “remains on life support”.
EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said: “We should have done much more. Our citizens expect us to lead. That means far more rapidly reduced emissions.”