The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) was held from 6 to 18 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It took place against a backdrop devastating effects of climate change with a food, energy, and biodiversity crisis that has included typhoons in Bangladesh, unprecedented floods in Pakistan, heatwaves in Europe, wildfires in North America, dry rivers in China and droughts in Africa.
Adnan Khan, Pakistan Red Crescent Youth Representative said “One third of my country was underwater when floods ravaged Pakistan this year. My friends in other countries are losing their homes to storms, wildfires, and rain. Decisions made at COP27--about loss and damage; finance; and early warning systems--they determine my future and the future of young people. We are willing to do our part, but we need leaders to meet us on this path to change.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) which operates in 192 countries not only respond to calamities when they occur, but also plays a critical role in preventing climate change hazards such as floods, wildfires and heatwaves from becoming disasters. The IFRC has established a partnership with the United Nations ESCAP to strengthen climate change resilience. Ahead of COP27 IFRC called on world leaders to cut greenhouse gas emissions and drastically scale up funding to enable the most vulnerable communities in low carbon emitting countries to adapt and cope with the devastating impacts they are already facing. It only makes sense that rich countries which emitted the most planet-warming gases, should pay poorer countries for adaptation since they are now suffering from climate disasters they did not create.
The UN environment agency’s annual adaption report claims climate adaptation finance provided by wealthy nations was only $29 billion in 2020, just 34% of total climate finance available. In comparison, estimated annual climate adaptation needs worldwide are $160-340 billion by 2030 and $315- 565 billion by 2050. The UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance, published four new reports to assist in discussions on climate finance at COP27 for achieving the goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year, towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. The IFRC which has identified the climate crisis as one of the greatest humanitarian threats currently facing communities around the world points out that their research shows that none of the globe's 30 most vulnerable countries are among the 30 highest recipients of adaptation funding per capita.
Maarten van Aalst, Director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre explained “COP27 has had an irreversible impact on the global discussions on loss and damage. Everyone now recognizes that we must address the impacts that are already visible and are hitting hardest among communities that have contributed the least. However, we must raise our ambition to reduce emissions and this COP does not deliver on that front. Every increment of global warming matters to save lives and livelihoods, and therefore critical to keep global temperatures below the 1.5oc degrees limit.”
An IFRC report released a month ahead of the COP 27, Extreme Heat: Preparing for the heatwaves of the future shows that, climate change is making heatwaves ever more dangerous and are causing aggressive wildfires around the globe. For example, since 2021 Turkey lost 214,000 hectares of forest to wild fires1 that have devastated the country’s precious pine honey production among other catastrophes. With Red Crescent Turkey assisting 300,000 thousand people during these calamities2.
Mary Friel, IFRC Climate Policy Representative said “Agreement to establish a Loss and Damage fund and operationalizing the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage at COP27 sends an important signal to the world and to people on the frontline of the climate crisis. As the ‘implementation COP,’ we all now must play our part and work to put agreed text into action which makes a real difference in the lives of people most affected by climate change. This is the critical decade for climate action, and so we must redouble efforts on all fronts. We know that when communities get the tools and funding to prepare, they can stop extreme weather events from becoming disasters. We are already feeling the heat now at 1.1c warming, every increment of global warming matters to save lives and livelihoods, and therefore critical to keep global temperatures below the 1.5c degrees limit.”
President Francesco Rocca and Secretary General Jagan Chapagain of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) added “While leaders have been meeting at COP27 for the past two weeks, families are dealing with the very real impacts of extreme weather—unable to wait for promises to transform into action.
Over the past two weeks, the IFRC’s risk watch system put out alerts for some 14 floods in Africa, 18 in the Americas, 35 in Asia Pacific, five in the European Union and two in the MENA region. During this period, four named tropical storms threatened destruction. Wildfires have ripped through communities in ten countries, affecting more than 10,000 hectares1. And on Friday, at least three people died as the result of floods in Kigali, Rwanda and 11 in Venezuela. In Ethiopia 185,000 people were displaced. Communities in Africa and Afghanistan continue to grapple with food insecurity, which are alarming compounding crises.
Loss and Damage landed on the COP agenda for the first time, and today world leaders have agreed to the establishment of new funding arrangements assisting developing nations, especially those most at-risk of the adverse effects of climate change. We welcome the finance pledges which have been made on Loss and Damage, which are historically important conversations and positive steps forward. These need to be complemented by new and additional finance that reaches the people and communities most at risk – and to be predictable, adequate, and flexible in order to address climate related crisis.
We are pleased to see the agreement to operationalize the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage to provide crucial technical assistance to reduce and respond to the impacts communities are already facing. However, we must raise our ambition to reduce emissions and this COP did not deliver on that front. Every increment of global warming matters to save lives and livelihoods and is therefore critical to keep global temperatures below the 1.5C degrees warming limit.
We welcome the focus on Early Warning Systems in the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan, which reflects realities at the frontlines of the climate crisis that the IFRC has been bringing to the fore for over two decades. Reducing risk and saving lives, especially in last mile communities, is what our teams around the globe do every single day and it is heartening to see this work being expanded. To be most effective, early warnings must be followed by early action and these systems must be rooted in the communities—including those hardest to reach and families stuck in protracted crises.
As the humanitarian impacts of climate change keep growing, so too should the finance for adaptation, ensuring it reaches the most affected and most at-risk. As the legacy of the “implementation COP,” global investment needs to reach the local level.
It is time to turn words and commitments into action at the national level, to bring the agreement to life and make a real difference in the lives of people and communities most impacted by the climate crisis.
As the IFRC network, we are committed to scaling up local action to respond to the climate crisis, working with communities to build preparedness and resilience in face of rising risks and impacts.
Climate and environmental crises are a threat to humanity and we all have a role to play. Now we must look forward with focused determination and hope. Our collective actions can inspire ambition we need to see in the world.
To raise awareness of the impact of climate change on our land and our oceans a member of Red Crescent Sisli, Istanbul Women’s Arm artist Selva Ozelli is exhibiting her “Love Someday” and “Reef Dwellers” series of art shows as part of the Global Resilience Partnership at COP27. IFRC is one of 64 partners of Global Resilience Partnership.
The "Love Someday” series of art shows are inspired by the ancient Egyptians who cultivated various roses which came to symbolize love. The enchanting purple, pink, yellow, white roses in “Love Someday” series is a reminder to avert, minimize, and address biodiversity loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change.
The “Reef Dweller” series of art shows celebrate the role of the oceans in our everyday life and inspires action to protect reefs which occupy only 0.1 per cent of the global sea surfaces. But more than 25 per cent of marine biodiversity is supported by them. Reef Dwellers 1 was endorsed by United Nations Oceans Decade and Reef Dwellers 2 features Picasso triggerfish which are common to Red Sea, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Love Someday 1 by Selva Ozelli
Love Someday 2 by Selva Ozelli
Love Someday 3 by Selva Ozelli
Reef Dwellers 1 by Selva Ozelli
Reef Dwellers 2 by Selva Ozelli
Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA, is an international tax attorney and certified public accountant, award winning artist and the author of Sustainably Investing in Digital Assets Globally.