Author: Brent Barnette

  • 23rd November, 2022
  • 5 min reading

The COP27 proceedings concluded on Sunday, 20th November in Sharm El-Sheikh, and communiques from all working groups are being finalised. In the meantime, draft versions are available for review, and the outlines of major decisions are becoming clear, as well as the major decisions that have been delayed for consideration until COP28 which will take place next year in Dubai.  In today’s post, we will review some of the major decisions that were reached during this year’s proceedings, while also considering what steps are needed to achieve the goal of limiting the effects of climate change to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

Reaffirming commitment to 1.5 degrees

First, it’s important to recognize that the commitment to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees was not a forgone conclusion. There was genuine concern among many participants that the commitment to 1.5 degrees would be abandoned. Scientists consider 1.5 degrees to be the level at which we can avoid the worst impacts from climate change. 

In order to achieve this target, we must drastically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, beginning immediately. However oil producing countries and representatives from the fossil fuel industry who were present at COP27 resisted calls for reductions in the use of fossil fuels, and successfully kept any mention of limiting use of fossil fuels out of the final statements. Without a clear path forward on reducing the use of fossil fuels, the target of 1.5 is largely unachievable.

The compromise language that was finally agreed to instead focused on the reduction in harmful greenhouse gas emissions without addressing the underlying cause of those emissions, which is primarily the burning of fossil fuels. However, in the end – participants reaffirmed the commitment to 1.5 degrees, and that commitment is reflected in the draft statements. 

The Revised Advanced Version of the Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan which was distributed on November 20 reaffirms this commitment.  The language in Paragraph 7, Section I on “Science and Urgency” states that the Conference of Parties “Reiterates that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C and resolves to pursue further efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C”. The precise mechanisms for achieving this will be decided in subsequent discussions.

Lack of progress on phase out of fossil fuels

Overall, the conference was considered to be a disappointment when it comes to mitigating against the underlying causes of climate change. While there were commitments to reduce the use of coal, the final statements do not address the use of all other fossil fuels. Countries including India, the EU and its member states, as well as the US had been pushing for a more rapid transition to renewable sources of energy, and a phase out of all fossil fuels, with emissions peaking in 2025. The push for the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels was abandoned in order to not risk what was seen as the major accomplishment of the conference, which was the agreement on the creation of a loss and damage fund.

Agreement on creation of loss & damage fund

As we discussed in one of our earlier postings, the issue of compensation for loss and damage for the most severely impacted countries was expected to be one of the key areas of focus throughout the proceedings. This was indeed the case, and in the end, agreement was reached among all participants on the creation of a loss and damage fund to assist developing countries in dealing with the impacts of climate change. While the precise details for implementing and capitalizing the fund were left for further study and consideration over the coming year and at COP28, the agreement on the creation of the fund was seen as a major victory for climate justice and for the most severely impacted developing countries.

How will we meet our emissions reduction targets?

In order to achieve the target of limiting temperature increases to 1.5 degrees, GHG emissions must be reduced by 43 percent by 2030. As discussed above, COP27 made very little progress in addressing precisely how these reductions will be achieved. In spite of reductions in emissions that occurred during the global pandemic, emissions rose again in the past year. And on Friday, scientists indicated that global emissions are set to rise 1 percent this year, even as time is running out for the significant reductions needed to keep global warming within the 1.5 degree target.

The fundamental challenges remain the same as they have been since the initial discussions on reducing global dependence on fossil fuels some 30 years ago, and the inherent conflicts remain largely unresolved. Namely, how to achieve sufficient reductions in emissions from the heaviest polluting countries in the developed world while helping to finance the shift to renewables in the developing world, without impacting the economic growth necessary for continued progress on poverty reduction. So far, there haven’t been sufficient reductions in dependence on fossil fuels in the developed world, and the financing necessary for helping the developing world achieve a transition to renewable sources of energy hasn’t been forthcoming.

Just Energy Transition Partnerships

One of the areas for optimism coming out of COP27 was actually announced at the G20 meeting which overlapped with the final week of COP27. The agreement for the development of a new Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) between Indonesia and a coalition of partners from the developed world was discussed during the COP27 proceedings and builds on the concept which was initially introduced in Glasgow at COP26. 

JETPs offer a way to mobilize funds from the developed world in a way that helps developing countries achieve their Nationally Determined Contribution range of CO2 reductions while also continuing to foster economic growth and alleviate poverty. The JETP with Indonesia will mobilize $20 billion in funding to help accelerate Indonesia’s transition to cleaner sources of energy, while facilitating ongoing economic growth.

The first JETP was agreed between South Africa and the EU, Germany, France, the UK, and the US. The agreement, which was announced at COP26 in 2021, resulted in the commitment of $8.5 billion over the following 3 – 5 years to help South Africa transition its energy sector to clean renewable sources of energy, decarbonise its energy intensive economy, help to create jobs, and foster economic growth.

What does this mean for Africa?

The challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions for many countries in Africa are amplified by the fact that a significant portion of economic growth is derived from extractive industries. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy with an estimated GDP in 2022 of US$ 504 billion, derives approximately 9 percent of its GDP from oil. Just this past week, Nigeria began drilling an oil field that was discovered in 2019 in the country’s north with reserves of approximately 1 billion barrels. 

The oil field sits in the Kolmani area, between Bauchi and Gombe states in an area that has long been afflicted by extreme poverty and has in recent years battled an insurgency by Islamic militants. The discovery of the oil field promises to create an economic boom for the region and for the country, with expectations of building an oil refinery, a gas processing unit, a 300-megawatt power plant, and a fertilizer plant capable of producing some 2,500 tonnes of fertilizer a day.

Creating incentives to move away from a fossil fuel-based economy is incredibly difficult, and simply insisting that a country like Nigeria forgo the economic benefits of something like the Kolmani oil field is unrealistic. The hope is that Just Energy Transition Partnerships can be one tool to help drive the decarbonization of economies in the developing world.

Much work still to be done

While there is still much to be done, and while COP27 in many ways “kicked the can down the road” in addressing clear mechanisms for achieving the necessary reductions in GHG to meet the 1.5 degree target, the demonstrated commitment to helping the most impacted countries through the creation of a loss and damage fund was an encouraging step forward, and the commitment of funds and resources to the JETP in Indonesia offers another bright spot coming out of the proceedings.

In our final post, we will look at some of the emerging trends, leaders, and frameworks coming out of COP27, and how they are likely to take shape over the coming years.

Brent Barnette is a Non-Executive Director with ETK. He helps lead our focus on issues relating to sustainability, ESG reporting in Africa, and climate change.

If you’d like to discuss how ETK Group can help you achieve your climate change goals, please email us at

  • 18th November, 2022
  • 6 min reading

We tend to think of climate change as something that will happen at some point in the future. In fact, the effects of climate change are being felt already, and will continue to increase over time, with the potential for significant step changes in global weather patterns as climate warming continues to accelerate.

Global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels, causing observable changes in weather patterns around the globe, resulting in loss of life, loss of property, political instability, displacement of populations, disruptions to ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, threats to global food supplies, and a host of other significant repercussions. Some of the observable events that are already occurring as a result of climate change include:

  • Drought – In 2012, the NOAA reported that about 33 percent of the contiguous US was affected by severe to extreme drought. In parts of the west scientists speculate that “megadrought” conditions are taking hold.
  • Flooding – So far in 2022, above average rainfall and devastating flooding have affected more than 5 million people in 19 countries across West and Central Africa. Severe floods across Pakistan beginning in June 2022 caused by above average monsoon rains and melting glaciers have killed more that 1,700 people and caused estimated damages of more that US $30 billion.
  • Wildfires – Since 2012, the US has averaged 49,303 wildfires per year, affecting 6,795,763 acres. So far in 2022, there have been 60,647 wildfires, affecting 7,227,371 acres. In Europe this past summer (June 4 – September 3), a prolonged heat wave and dry spell resulted in wildfires that burned a total of 508,260 hectares, compared with the 2006-2021 average of 215,548 hectares for the same summer period. And in Brazil, the National Institute for Space Research registered 31,513 fire alerts in the Amazon for the first 30 days of August, making it the worst August since 2010. 
  • Heatwaves – 2022 began with record heatwaves in the summer season in the southern hemisphere. Argentina experienced an historic heatwave that saw the country hit near record-high temperatures, which for a period made the country the hottest spot on the planet. This was followed by record heat waves in the summer in the northern hemisphere. NASA data indicated that the period from June to August 2022 tied with 2020 for the warmest summer worldwide since record keeping began in 1880.
  • Tropical Cyclones – The emerging scientific consensus is that global warming is likely not making tropical cyclones more frequent, but is increasing the intensity and strength of storms, resulting in greater damage. Rising ocean surface temperatures are increasing the strength of storms, and flooding caused by tropical cyclones is being made worse by rising sea levels.
  • Loss of glacial icescientists fear that a future is rapidly approaching where the more than 1 billion people who depend on glacial melt for water will be forced to find alternative sources of water. New satellite technology used to measure glacial depth indicates that glaciers may contain as much as 20 percent less water than previously thought. And as glaciers melt more rapidly, they can result in catastrophic flooding, rendering useless the water that they do contain, and further disrupting populations and agriculture.

How will we adapt to a rapidly changing climate

All of these issues post a range of serious challenges to global health, infrastructure, business and industry, the built environment, and perhaps most importantly, agriculture and food security. The adaptation requirements for each country vary based on the specific climate change related impact, whether droughts, flooding, tropical cyclones, or other climate change induced impacts.

The thematic day for Saturday November 12 was adaptation to climate change, with a particular focus on adaptive agriculture. The adaptation of agriculture value chains to climate change is an immensely important and yet complex topic, given the incredible variability of climes, agricultural systems, and topographies around the world. But at the root, all agriculture systems must adapt to provide populations with sufficient nutrition using increasingly scarce resources, primarily water.

What is Adaptive Agriculture?

The goal of adaptive agriculture is to help farmers focus on sustainable crops and growing methods that will deliver maximum nutritional value while addressing the impacts of climate change. A number of new initiatives focused on adaptive agriculture were introduced at COP27. The goal of these initiatives is to decrease food insecurity, protect the livelihoods of farmers, and generally build more resilience into global agriculture systems. Some of the areas that adaptive agriculture looks at include:

  • Soil quality and soil health – adaptive agriculture looks at crop mix, farming techniques, water use, and the use of additives in order to maintain the healthiest possible levels of soil.
  • Crop mix – the crops that are grown impact water consumption, adaptiveness of crops to temperature variations, impact of specific crops on soil (nutrient extraction), provision of nutrition, and overall sustainability to ensure that the most appropriate mix of crops are grown. In particular, this leads to a focus on native plant species, which are generally more resilient to variations in local weather patterns.
  • Water conservation – one of the most damaging – and unpredictable – elements of climate change is the impact on water supplies. Climate change is causing loss of seasonal ice melt, changes in rainfall patterns (extended periods of drought, and paradoxically, periods of intense rainfall), and loss of groundwater reserves.
  • Other agriculture inputs – adaptive agriculture seeks to minimize the need for other inputs, including fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. By focusing on organic farming techniques, the goal is to develop more resilient crop varieties that can better withstand the impacts of climate change.
  • Business models – new technologies and approaches to agriculture – for example, greenhouse-based urban farms that use aquaponics to grow vegetables for local populations – reduce food waste, increase food security for local populations, minimize the impact on scarce resources, and help create employment opportunities. Adaptive agriculture encourages innovations in business models to deliver more sustainable agriculture systems, particularly for the poorest parts of the world.

Key initiatives discussed at the adaptive agriculture session

The theme day on Adaptation and Agriculture covered a range of topics and included the launch of several key initiatives intended to help countries deal with the threats that climate change poses to food security from disruptions to agriculture value chains. Some of the key topics and initiatives included the following:

FAST – Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Initiative
This session featured the official launch of the COP27 FAST initiative, which aims to increase climate finance contributions for agriculture and food systems. The initiative aims to do this by targeting the most vulnerable countries.

iCAN – Initiative on Climate Action & Nutrition
This session featured discussions on developing a multi-stakeholder, multi-sectoral initiative intended to help foster collaboration and accelerate transformative action while addressing the critical nexus of health, nutrition and climate change, and accelerating implementation in areas that reduce stunting, reduce wasting, reduce anemia among many other risks. The ultimate objective is to raise international awareness on malnutrition and urge state & non-state actors to act by pledging increased investment and support.

Climate Responses for Sustaining Peace (CRSP) Initiative Official Launch
The session evaluates the confluence of conflict, climate change, natural disasters, and environmental degradation, which pose a growing and pressing challenge, further spurring insecurity and vulnerability, as well as exacerbating existing fragilities across the globe.

“Shaping the way forward on Adaptation Action and Support”
A ministerial session on how to further capture progress on adaptation, including specific measures such as developing a comprehensive monitoring process, raising additional funds for adaptation initiatives, and support needed for NAPS development.

How to avert, minimize, and address Loss and Damage to infrastructure (Focus on Early Action and Early Warning Systems)
This session highlighted the role of Al and data analytics in early warning systems in reducing the aftermath of droughts and floods in countries exposed to climate change. Additionally, a key objective will be to raise additional funds for the development of EWS in developing countries.

Adaptation Technologies
Adaptation is in dire need for practical and implementable solutions and technologies that can be easily transferred to the developing world. From innovations around infectious diseases, to safeguarding against floods, insurance tools and capitalizing on progress in sensor technologies, this session will shed light on how technology can better serve us in adapting to climate change.

“From Malabo to Sharm ElSheikh”: Enhancing climate resilience and agriculture sustainability to attain food security in Africa
This session aims to shed light on the measures taken in African and Arab Countries since the 2014 Malabo Declaration which is considered a re-commitment to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) principles adopted by AU Heads of State and Government to provide effective leadership for the attainment of its goals by the year 2025, including ending hunger, tripling intra-African trade in agricultural goods and services, enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems, and ensuring that agriculture contributes significantly to poverty reduction.

Innovative tools by the private sector in Agriculture and Food Systems
The session aims to discuss the role of technological innovation within the domain of climate smart-agriculture and food initiatives with a focus on delivery of investment in innovative technologies through highlighting the role of the private sector and the multinational telecommunications companies in that sphere.

Finance for Climate Smart Agriculture and De-risking the Agriculture Sector
The session discussed ways of increasing investments for Climate Smart Agriculture and de-risking schemes of how to promote rural and agricultural finance, in order to find ways to increase affordable finance for smallholder farmers.

Food Security, Nutrition and Climate Change
The goal of the session was to discuss the current state of Food Security and Nutrition in developing countries, presenting key scientific findings; discussing methods of action and support; and scaling up cost-effective interventions and programs, and attracting additional funds for bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

In our next posting, we will discuss the challenges we are facing in meeting our targets for reducing greenhouse emissions and try to better understand some of the actions that have been proposed at COP27 to mitigate further releases of GHG into the atmosphere. Let us know your thoughts on any of the topics we’ve discussed, or anything else that has taken place at COP27.

Brent Barnette is a Non-Executive Director with ETK. He helps lead our focus on issues relating to sustainability, ESG reporting in Africa, and climate change.

If you’d like to discuss how ETK Group can help you achieve your climate change goals, please email us at

  • 14th November, 2022
  • 4 min reading

Among the most contentious topics affecting international cooperation on climate change is the question of what responsibility richer countries bear for helping poorer countries deal with the costs of a warming planet. The question of how to finance the costs associated with climate change were covered in the sessions on Wednesday, November 9 where the thematic topic of the day for COP27 was climate finance in the broadest sense. The costs for dealing with climate change largely fall into three broad categories: adaptation, mitigation, and loss and damage.

  • Adaptation – These are the costs associated with implementing the necessary changes to deal with the impacts of climate change. This includes things like strengthening infrastructure, adapting agriculture and industry, and other costs associated with building in a more climate resilient way.
  • Mitigation – These are the costs associated with implementing the necessary systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – things like switching power grids to more renewable sources of energy, helping businesses reduce emissions associated with their operations, helping households to become more energy efficient, and generally meeting national commitments to reductions in greenhouse gasses.
  • Loss and Damage – These are the costs of dealing with the impacts of climate change, whether “acute”, as in damages resulting from catastrophic storms or flooding events, or “chronic”, such as dealing with long term impacts to things like agriculture systems, chronic health conditions caused by climate change, or displacement of populations resulting from the loss of sustainable sources of water.

Loss and Damage Debate

What is loss and damage in the context of climate change? While there have always been issues and discussions on how to help poorer countries deal with all of the costs associated with climate change, the issue of loss and damage has long been the most contentious because of the issue of assumed liability. Wealthier countries have long feared the slippery slope of admitting responsibility for the damaging effects of climate change by explicitly paying for the damages associated with any given climate event, rather than – as has traditionally been done – by providing aid after the fact. Scientists can now use computer modeling to determine with a high degree of accuracy the degree to which any particular climate event has likely been caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.  This makes it much easier to link the “cause” of increased GHG emissions by wealthier countries with the “effect” of a particular storm on a particular population. 

When the UNFCCC was first being drafted in the early 90s, a group of small island states pulled together and suggested the creation of an international insurance fund that would provide compensation for the damages associated with rising sea levels and increasingly ferocious storms. While the language ultimately was not included in the final text, the idea has persisted, and has been discussed with increasing urgency as the worlds’ most vulnerable places face what has become for many an existential threat.

While rich countries have long resisted calls to provide explicit support for damages caused by climate change, poorer countries have continued to press their case. Loss and damage was first recognised as a legitimate topic for discussion at COP19 in Warsaw, Poland in 2013.  Coming out of the Conference, The Warsaw International Mechanism was established to further study the loss and damage concept, but it resulted in nothing but further dialogue and analysis with no commitment of funds to help affected countries. Finally, under mounting pressure, at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, Scotland became the first country to commit to providing funds to support loss and damage claims.

With this year’s COP taking place in Egypt, as the conference opened on Sunday, rich countries for the first time agreed to discuss funding arrangements for loss and damage as a specific agenda item at the COP proceedings. While this is a long way from agreeing the specific mechanisms of how a loss and damage fund might be managed, or agreeing specific funding targets for wealthier countries, having the topic formally on the agenda was seen as some level of progress.  

And momentum seems to be gathering for rich countries to commit money to support loss and damage claims. This week, the President of the EU Ursula von der Leyen endorsed the idea, which was followed by pledges of funding from Ireland, Denmark, Austria and Belgium. Still, this falls far short of the estimated $580 billion in annual damages that countries are expected to experience from climate change by 2030.

Meanwhile, the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gasses has yet to fulfill the pledges made by President Biden in 2021, when he promised to provide $11.4 billion in loss and damage funding per year by 2024. So far the US has only managed to provide just $1 billion per year toward that goal – and this in years when the US Congress was controlled by Democrats. And notably, the US was absent earlier in the week from discussions on establishing a loss and damage fund, and was not among the countries that made explicit pledges to support loss and damage claims going forward.

Meanwhile, anger among the world’s poorest countries continues to grow, and those most affected continue to pursue options for securing the funding to help address the growing toll caused by climate change. Pakistan, which currently chairs the influential coalition of the “G77 and China” – and which experienced catastrophic flooding this year that affected approximately 10% of the country and caused an estimated $30 billion in damages – has gotten behind a plan by the Alliance of Small Island States to create a dedicated loss and damage response fund.

As the threats and damages from climate change continue to wreak havoc on poorer countries, many of which are in Africa, the discussions around loss and damage will most certainly continue, and will likely become more contentious as the costs continue to mount. While COP27 has not offered anything close to a definitive answer, at least the parties are now discussing the implications, considering options, and are beginning to commit funds.

In our next posting, we will look at the challenges associated with adapting to the impacts of climate change, with a particular focus on agriculture. Let us know your thoughts on any of the topics we’ve discussed, or anything else that has taken place at COP27.

Brent Barnette is a Non-Executive Director with ETK. He helps lead our focus on issues relating to sustainability, ESG reporting in Africa, and climate change.

If you’d like to discuss how ETK Group can help you achieve your climate change goals, please email us at

  • 10th November, 2022
  • 2 min reading

As COP27 gets underway in Sharm El-Sheikh Egypt, and leaders from around the world gather to formulate an updated statement on the world’s commitment to collective action on climate change, there are a number of key issues that the delegates will face. This meeting of the Conference of Parties is happening 30 years after the drafting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and 7 years since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted at COP21. 

The COP meetings have now become an annual event, with an agenda covering a range of topics, from climate finance, to plans for decarbonization, impacts of climate change on youth and by gender, biodiversity, water resources, energy innovations, and solutions to the challenges of adapting to climate change and mitigating further emissions of greenhouse gasses.

It is now all but certain the goal set out in the Paris Climate Agreement of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels will be missed. Global temperatures have already risen 1.1 degrees above preindustrial levels, and scientists predict that there is a near certainty (93% chance) that the world will experience temperatures 1.6 degrees above preindustrial levels by 2026.

As the world’s leaders gather for the first time in Africa, the focus will be on the increasingly severe impacts of climate change on populations in the global south, as rising warming temperatures disproportionately affect the poorest countries. The IPCC estimates that approximately 50% of the planet’s population is highly vulnerable to the increasing impacts of climate change. Those living in the most vulnerable regions are 15 times more likely to die from storms, droughts and floods. 

The disparity between the regions that are responsible for the most emissions, and places that are suffering the most from climate change will be one of the key themes running through the meetings in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Cop27 Climate Change

ETK Groups’ recommendations for climate change actions to monitor

Following is a listing of some of the key topics to keep an eye on throughout the proceedings, and that will be addressed in the various sessions and no doubt in the final communique. Over the next few days we will publish a series of more detailed discussion around these topics. Please join in on the discussion, and let us know your thoughts.

  1. “Loss and Damage” debate and the financial obligations of richer nations to poorer nations that are suffering the most.
  2. The impacts of climate change are here, now. How will we adapt? Impacts on food supplies, increased ferocity of storms, changes in weather patterns that are already having a real impact.
  3. We are not on track to meet our commitments in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. What can be done?
  4. The world’s biggest emitters are still struggling with their commitments. Where will the global leadership come from that is desperately needed?

If you’d like to discuss how ETK Group can help you achieve your climate change goals, please email us at