By: Toini Amutenya and Louise Brown

The COP27 climate change conference wrapped up in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 20th November, two days after it was supposed to close, with a mixed set of outcomes.

A key achievement of the negotiations was the decision to establish a fund for loss and damage. A priority that small island states have been emphasizing for several decades, the fund would support vulnerable countries to respond to the losses and damages caused by climate change-induced catastrophes such as hurricanes, landslides and floods.  In addition, parties also launched the Glasgow-Sharm El-Sheikh global goal on adaptation work program, which will comprise a series of stakeholder workshops in the leadup to COP28 in order to come to an agreement on a global goal for adaptation under the Paris Agreement. Unlike setting a goal for mitigation, which involved agreeing on a maximum global temperature increase of 1.5 to 2°C , as informed by science, setting a goal for adapting to the impacts of climate change is much more complex and cannot be captured in a single metric.

Despite these outcomes, COP27 was widely observed to be lacking the ambition needed to address the climate crisis. With collective global climate commitments still falling short of what is needed to achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature goal, the decision to establish a “mitigation work programme” that will hold a series of workshops but has no mandate to set targets or track progress against commitments does not inspire confidence in the commitment of world leaders to take the required action. Efforts to include language in the agreement on phasing-down of fossil fuels also failed, at a conference where the fossil fuel industry had a larger delegation than that of most countries.

Progress around mobilizing finance for developing countries to achieve their climate commitments continued to be slow and mired in distrust as developed countries failed another year in a row to meet the collective USD 100 billion per year that they committed to in 2009. A report by the Independent High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance estimated that developing nations will need to spend about USD 2.4 trillion a year by 2030 on climate-related projects with current climate finance at an estimated USD 803 billion.  Discussion on setting a new, needs-based finance goal from 2025 continued and are expected to lead to an agreement by 2024.

One positive outcome on finance, however, was the call for reform of multilateral development banks (MDBs) to take on more risk and increase access to climate finance for developing countries. Led by Barbados and supported by other vulnerable countries as well as a number of developed countries, this represents an important and long-overdue shift in perceptions on the central role of multilateral institutions in building global resilience to climate shocks. In order to ensure progress on this issue, it should be taken up in the dialogue on aligning finance with low emissions, climate resilient development paths (the less well known but critically important of the three key goals of the Paris Agreement, also known as Article 2.1c) which was also decided in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Implications of the COP27 outcome for Namibia

Namibia’s participation in the negotiations at COP27 aimed at achieving progress in enhancing global ambition in line with its own high-ambition climate targets, as well as seeing progress on finance – which it will need in abundance in order to achieve the 90% of its climate goals that are conditional on financial support. The lack of progress in these key themes is a setback for Namibia and other low-emissions developing countries. It also sought progress on enhancing funding commitments for adaptation and loss and damage.

For Namibia, an arid country highly vulnerable to drought and desertification, the new loss and damage fund will be important to address the climate change disasters that are already being felt, such as extreme flooding and drought, and are likely to be exacerbated in coming years as a result of climate change. However, there is still much work to be done to design and operationalize the fund and mobilise funding commitments from developed countries.

Namibia’s side events and achievements

Outside of the negotiations, Namibia had a strong presence at COP27. Namibia and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding for strategic partnership to promote Namibia’s sustainable supply of raw materials and support the transformational green hydrogen industry. The country also mobilized  EUR 540 million in climate finance from the Dutch government and European Investment Bank (EIB).  The Dutch government grant is to support climate-resilient infrastructure whilst the facility from EIB will be used to build the green hydrogen industry and support other potential renewable energy projects in the country.

Namibia also had a packed schedule of side events at the Namibian pavilion as well as a myriad bilateral discussions and invitations to speak at partner events. Finance day on the 9th November showcased the work of various Namibian institutions including Triple Capital, the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia, Bank Windhoek, the Namibia Nature Foundation and the Ministries of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and Finance, to mobilise and deploy climate finance towards vulnerable communities in Namibia. Youth day on 10th November fostered discussions on African youth engagement in the climate change negotiations, stressing the importance of representation of African youth in UNFCCC processes and other fora and the need for support to enable greater youth participation.  Other themes at the Namibian pavilion included the role of the private sector in driving climate action, gender and climate change issues, agriculture, biodiversity, water and energy.

Looking forward to COP28, which will be held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, it will be important for Namibia to ensure a stronger voice in the negotiations, alongside other climate vulnerable countries. Namibia should use its voice to push for a more ambitious outcome and to ensure that the newly established loss and damage facility is designed to respond to the needs of vulnerable countries.  It will be important to ensure that the dialogues on a new collective quantified goal on climate finance lead to a goal that reflects the finance needs of developing countries. And it should also push for the inclusion of the MDB reform agenda within the dialogue on aligning finance with the Paris Agreement.