Activism is the engine of change at COP27

This weekend, COP27 came to an end after two weeks of panels, meetings and debate. Coming into the conference, the UN chief António Guterres warned global leaders that the world is on a “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”.

To prevent a climate catastrophe, we must phase out fossil fuels across the globe. There is simply no other way. This is something nations have shirked for decades despite the rising calls from scientists and civil society. Whilst there was growing support for this commitment from many countries, the final agreement ignored this goal. Undoubtedly, the 600 fossil fuel lobbyists attending the conference had a hand in this hugely disappointing decision.

A large focus for the conference was the delivery of a financial mechanism for the loss and damages experienced by nations most effected by the climate crisis. Effective Loss and Damage will be crucial for the delivery of climate justice as it acknowledges that some people will be affected more by the climate crisis and that these people are often those who have contributed the least to rising temperatures. Before the conference, hopes were rising as Loss and Damage was included in the agenda for the first time, leading to the establishment of a fund for this issue. This is a brilliant step for the planet, driven entirely by activists demanding more from the people of power.

Another first for the conference saw a designated space for ocean issues and acceptance that the largest heat sink and carbon store on the globe must be part of the solution. This led to the crucial role of the ocean in the climate emergency to be acknowledged in the decision – there is no thriving planet without a thriving ocean.

In summary, this conference took a very weak stance on the urgency of the ocean and climate emergency, showing little movement towards the scale of emission reductions needed to halt warming at the important 1.5 degrees – a potentially devastating outcome for people and planet. However, the strong progress towards Loss and Damage has shown the effect activism can have on the world stage. Whilst not the outcome we wanted, the power of activism is stronger than ever, proving Ocean Activism can, and will, be the way forward in tackling the ocean and climate emergency.

Together, we can end the ocean and climate emergency and it’s Ocean Activists everywhere who will lead the change.