Final Blog from COP27 – Expectations and Outcomes


By Tim Dixon

21 November 2022

In terms of overall outcomes, it was disappointing that the main achievement of this COP was to avoid backsliding on the Glasgow agreements, which means it did not really progress at all in most areas including mitigation. The cover decision, called the “Sharm El-Sheikk Implementation Plan” basically just repeats Glasgow’s agreements on aiming to keep 1.5 within reach, and that in itself was considered an achievement. The one significant achievement was to establish the principle of a fund for “loss and damage”, for developed countries to fund the poorer developing countries for the damages from climate change, although no funding has been agreed. Many countries wanted to expand Glasgow’s “phasedown of unabated coal power” to “phaseout of unabated fossil fuels” so as to include oil and gas without CCS, but this could not be agreed by all countries. The energy section of the cover decision calls for an “increase in low-emission and renewable energy ” which I understand to mean to include gas with CCS and nuclear. The lack of definition of low-emission energy has attracted some criticism by those worried it means gas without CCS, but that is not my understanding of the intention.

In terms of the actual mitigation actions, with Glasgow’s request for updated NDCs by COP27, the Climate Action Tracker says 29 NDCs were updated for COP27, a disappointing number given the 128 submitted for Glasgow. Of these, Climate Action Tracker says only 5 have stronger targets.

Within the different negotiations the main area we have been following has been Paris Agreement Article 6.4 and how it treats “removals”, particularly engineered removals which are based on CCS ie DACCS and BECCS. Article 6.4 will enable the new international carbon market for project-based activities, like a new Clean Development Mechanism. Here, like the cover decision, the main achievement in COP27 from a CCS perspective was to avoid it going backwards. On the last Thursday evening (9:30pm), the new 6.4 text that was issued included new paragraphs that invited more inputs on engineered CDR alone, not nature-based, creating future bias against engineered removals. We were able to input in real-time, and the offending paragraph was removed. The final version of the text was issued on Saturday (10:30am) and was without the offending paragraph, and hence technology neutral. Given pre-COP27 documents from the 6.4 Supervisory Body had explicitly recognised the different requirements for accounting between nature-based and engineering-based removals, which used our inputs on the past work and agreements under UNFCCC and under IPCC for CO2 geological storage, this recognition was not carried over into the COP27 texts for 6.4. This follows a campaign at COP27 by some environmental groups specifically on this aspect of not including engineering-based removals in 6.4, and also against CCS more generally. I was unsure as to why there is this new wave of lobbying against CCS. In the final text agreed in the Paris Agreement plenary (CMA) this area of removals has been pushed back to the SBSTA to do some more work and report back to CMA in COP27. To quote the text “to elaborate and further develop recommendations, on the basis of the rules, modalities and procedures, …….. on activities involving removals, including appropriate monitoring, reporting, accounting for removals and crediting periods, addressing reversals, avoidance of leakage, and avoidance of other negative environmental and social impacts, human rights, in addition to the activities referred to in chapter V of the rules, modalities and procedures, as well as definitions and risks associated with different technologies for removals including those that are nature-based and/or engineering-based.” So this topic requires constant vigilance and we will keep following this topic and inputting as necessary.

In terms of events, our second side-event, on CCS in the Caribbean, was held on the Tuesday in the second week. We had our colleagues in Trinidad and Tobago sharing their progress and learnings with other countries, including an example presented from Guyana, showing Trinidad and Tobago becoming the centre of CCS expertise for the Caribbean region. We were fortunate to have the Ministry of Energy involved at the highest level, with Acting Permanent Secretary Mrs Sandra Fraser speaking. This event was considered by all that it went very well, was well attended, and had the audience leaving with quotes of “amazed” and “inspired” and hopes to repeat the process in other developing countries. In particular the climate finance body for the Caribbean region became very motivated to support CCS activities there. A big thank you to the Clean Air Task Force for hosting this in their pavilion, and a recording of the event will be available in due course.

There was a “CDR Launchpad” event in the second week, to launch the “CDR Sprint” announced in GCEAF Pittsburgh. Participating governments include Canada, European Commission on behalf of the European Union, Japan, Norway, United Kingdom, and United States. This ‘Launchpad’ will provide a platform for countries to share experience and learnings to develop CDR projects faster and more effectively, help ensure that standards and policies enable CDR technologies to develop swiftly, equitably, and responsibly, and amplify CDR investment to leverage the impact of government resources devoted to this effort. The CDR Launchpad is a ‘sprint’ of the Mission Innovation CDR Mission, which was launched at COP26 last year. CDR Launchpad members agree to build at least one 1,000+ tonne/year CDR project by 2025, and share data from these projects, and to contribute to cumulative investment of USD 100 million collectively by 2025 to support CDR demonstration projects. The CDR Launchpad was launched by the US Secretary for Energy, Jennifer Granholm, the UK Minister for Climate, Graham Stuart, and the Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister for Environment and Climate Change Stephen de Boer. It was an honour to be invited to moderate a discussion panel on the benefits of a globally-coordinated, rapid increase in large-scale CDR demonstrations. This panel consisted of Brad Crabtree, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, U.S. DoE, Rachel McCormick, Director General of International and Intergovernmental Affairs, Natural Resources Canada, Shinichi Kihara, Deputy Director-General for Environmental Affairs, METI, Japan, and Asser Berling Head of Department. Ministry for Climate in Denmark. I was able to include in the narrative mention of IEAGHG’s work in the area, such as inputting to Article 6.4 and developing MRV.

Thanks to an invite by CATF I participated in a side-event with Lee Beck of CATF, Guloren Turan of GCCSI and Kamel Bennaceur to discuss funding for CCS in developing countries. We were able to emphasise the need to replenish or replace the World Bank and ADB CCS Trust funds which come to an end soon. The last side event I attended was organised by CATF on a New Approach to CDR. The panel had representatives from Carbon Engineering, IPCC, EU Parliament and Bellona. It was nice to see a call out for our UT GCCC colleagues for their role in the recent King Ranch and Oxy’s 1PointFive announcement for a 30Mt DACCS scheme in Texas, and the opportunity for us to discuss how to get the IPCC GHG Inventory Guidelines to include DACCS.

There were many other CCS-related and CDR-related side-events at COP27, and it was not possible to cover them all. As we have previously documented, such information is much needed in COPs, and so acknowledgements must deservedly be given to the Global CCS Institute, Bellona, Clean Air Task Force and CO2Geonet for these other events.

Overall with COP27, whilst our events themselves went well, it was a disappointing COP from the mitigation outlook. The main achievements being not backsliding on Glasgow. The Blue Zone was also quite a challenging environment to have to work in for long hours each day. However, thank you to the hosts, Egypt, for welcoming the 33,000 attendees into this desert location on the edge of the Red Sea. I did reflect that the surrounding Mars-like desert environment visually emphasised the urgent need to reduce climate change to try and avoid more of the planet becoming like this. 

Our side events: The links to the IISD coverage and recordings of our UNFCCC Side-event on CCS in Africa are available here and ; the link to the recording of our CCS in the Caribbean side-event is available here

Caribbean side event at COP27. Photo courtesy of Ruth at GCCSI. CDR Launchpad event at COP27 Launchpad CDR Launchpad event at COP27

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