COP27 round up: key developments from the UN’s climate change conference
Author: Sophie Clare, Cambridge University student.
The 27th UN climate change conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, concluded this weekend after the extension of talks in order to reach agreement among participants. As a result, this year’s conference culminated in the historic creation of a ‘loss and damage fund’ to support the countries worst impacted by climate change. Nonetheless, specific details of the fund and its application remain to be negotiated. Evidently, much remains to be done to bring about legislation and lasting change in global efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of global warming, in particular the lack of concrete legislation to limit the expansion of the polluting fossil fuel industry.
The goal first set out in 2015’s Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to 1.5C – has been reaffirmed, although this was somewhat overshadowed by the growing influence of fossil fuel lobbyists in proceedings. These corporate representatives constituted a higher proportion of delegates than representatives of the countries and communities most impacted by climate change, and their number had increased by over 25% on last year’s COP26 in Glasgow.
In the area of sustainable motorsports, the UNFCCC, FIA, Formula E and Envision Racing hosted a panel discussing the role of sports in spearheading electrification, by promoting the adoption of zero emission vehicles. Entitled ‘Race against Climate Change: Accelerating the Transition to Zero Emission Mobility’, the discussion explored how motorsport, despite being historically powered by fossil fuels, has the opportunity to contribute to decarbonisation and the implementation of renewable energy resources.
COP 27 also provided the opportunity for the Partnership for Active Travel and Health to highlight the importance of walking and cycling for sustainability. Encouraging these healthy modes of transport represents an intersection between professional sport and individual consumers, who are encouraged to contribute to sustainable mobility and a healthy lifestyle. The sporting body Union Cycliste Internationale is a founding member of this coalition, underscoring how the industry can contribute to meeting climate goals. In addition to these contributions, the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative continues to develop after its launch at COP24 in 2018.
The emphasis of this year’s conference was primarily economic and – as always – political, seeking to establish crucial international financial arrangements for the mitigation of climate change. It is nonetheless clear that sports will continue to play an important role in the communication and implementation of global climate mitigation strategies. As the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs determined in a report earlier this year, ‘sport is both one of the contributors and casualties of global warming… in a unique position to be part of the solution.’
 Ruth Michaelson, ‚‘Explosion’ in number of fossil fuel lobbyists at Cop27 climate summit’, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/10/big-rise-in-number-of-fossil-fuel-lobbyists-at-cop27-climate-summit [Accessed 21 November 2022]