Outcome of COP27 is not a reason to be hopeless

24 November 2022

The outcome from COP27 was predictably mixed, with some important steps forward and some areas that fell short in terms of ambition and new actions to tackle climate change.

Here, acting CEO Richard Swannell focuses on what comes next.

The good news

The announcement of the loss and damage fund is a significant and symbolic breakthrough for the most vulnerable countries around the world who are feeling the impact of the climate crisis now. Exactly how the new fund will be administered, and who will contribute, remains to be seen, but nevertheless this was a historic moment.

Indeed, the impact of climate change now is becoming clearer almost every day. Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, expressed this so well when describing the impact of the recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan and the need for urgent assistance.

Elsewhere, there were other positive steps. These included the continued support of science-based, climate-informed decision-making with the establishment by the US Government of the International Climate Hub; the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda which outlines a series of outcomes to enhance resilience for the most climate vulnerable communities; and the announcement by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo that the country, supported by $10 billion from a group of rich nations, will close down its coal power plants.

And for WRAP, it was very encouraging to see global momentum gathering around our call for the need to reinvent the way we produce and consume food and goods. For the first time ever there was a Food Systems Pavilion at a COP gathering. It’s where we were based, and where like-minded organisations, we shared valuable expertise on the need to transform food systems as a critical strategy in climate action. We forged some strong and potentially fruitful alliances with business, NGO and governments.

It was inspiring to see the passion, commitment and energy of so many people committed to tackling all aspects of climate change. The solutions are there; there now needs to be concerted action.

“It may feel like the dream of rescuing the planet from the life-threatening impact of climate change did not take a giant leap forward at COP27. But that is not a reason to sink into hopelessness either.”

Where do we go from here?

Now that the dust has settled on the meeting itself, we need to regroup and redouble efforts to ensure we are doing all we can to ensure emissions peak before 2025, which the IPCC has indicated is necessary to keep even the more conservative Paris treaty warming goal of two degrees Celsius still a reality. Even if the reference to aim for a 1.5-degree planet remains in the final text, many have argued that that dream slipped even further out of sight at COP27.

However, what stood out for me at Sharm El-Sheikh is that there are dynamic, ingenious, and eminently achievable solutions to be grasped. When matched with political will, they have the potential to rescue us from hopelessness and deliver a clean-energy, waste-free, resource-efficient future where climate change is no longer a problem.

Transformation - From the food we eat, to the clothese we wear, and the goods we buy - WRAP at COP27


The challenges of maintaining a sense of collective ambition at COP with so many competing priorities may have been evident in Egypt, but that just strengthens our belief that every action we take in our own lives to reduce GHG emissions, every commitment taken in board rooms to reduce GHG emissions across their supply chains, will make a difference. Every fraction of a degree avoids needless suffering somewhere in the world.

That is what we are striving towards at WRAP.

Future COPs must demonstrate a greater sense of urgency and action. We would like to see more countries come with food system transformation plans, starting with a commitment to UN SDG 12.3 to halve food waste to 2030. We also need to see many more governments go beyond energy to tackle the emissions from the way we consume; developing policies agenda which support the transition to a circular, resource-efficient, economy.

We were pleased to see both these agendas gaining prominence at Sharm El Sheikh. We are already showing with our partners in the UK, and globally, what can be achieved in adopting this approach.

It may feel like the dream of rescuing the planet from the life-threatening impact of climate change did not take a giant leap forward at COP27. But that is not a reason to sink into hopelessness either. Failure is not (yet) an inevitability, and we have to keep the fight alive as if our world depended on it. Because it does.