While the theme of the 27th United Nations (U.N.) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) is “delivering for people and the planet,” the events of the conference’s first week called attention to how we’re already falling short of meeting climate targets.  

On Sunday, November 6, before the start of COP27, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a provisional report that shows that the past eight years “have been the warmest on record. ”

To address the challenges posed by climate change, 110 world leaders, multiple organizations and over 30,000 attendees came together in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to propose new solutions, standards and recommendations for action. Read on for a roundup of some of the key announcements from COP27’s first week. 

New Recommendations for Avoiding Greenwashing

The issue of greenwashing—making misleading statements about the sustainability of products or services—was a focus during the first week of COP27. The U.N. published a report on the issue on Tuesday, November 8, which is intended to act as a guide on how to make credible and accountable net-zero pledges. The report was published by the U.N.’s high-level expert group on the net-zero emissions commitments of non-state entities. 

The report gives 10 practical recommendations for organizations and provides clarity on four areas defined by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, which include “environmental integrity, credibility, accountability and the role of governments.”

According to the expert group, organizations cannot make net-zero pledges while also building or investing in “any kind of environmentally destructive activities.” Net-zero pledges must also be in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Targets must include Scope 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Net-zero pledges should also be detailed, transparent, accountable and concrete and include a plan for how the transition is going to play out. Guterres stressed that government entities need to ensure that voluntary initiatives become the new normal. 

French President Emmanuel Macron and U.N. Climate Envoy Michael Bloomberg launched a new initiative at COP27 to create a net-zero public utility, which will help address data gaps and increase transparency within net-zero commitments. 

The Announcement of New Frameworks, Partnerships and Guidelines

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) announced a new partnership framework on Tuesday, November 8, “to support preparers, investors and other capital market stakeholders as they prepare to use IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards.”

The ISSB is working with the European Commission and the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) to agree on a framework for “maximizing interoperability of their standards and aligning on key climate disclosures.” The announcement comes as the ISSB is engaging with jurisdictions across the world and with the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) on the “endorsement of its proposed standards.”

The ISSB and the CDP (formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project) announced that the CDP “will incorporate the IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures’ requirements into its global environmental disclosure program.” The ISSB said that: 

“Together, these announcements form a key milestone as the ISSB turns its attention from this foundational development to implementation preparation, as the ISSB plans to issue final Standards as early as possible in 2023.” 

Additionally, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced the publication of its Net Zero Guidelines. The guidelines are intended to help actors across the state, regional, city and organizational levels make progress on net-zero commitments.

More than 1,200 experts from over 100 countries, including Chris Koffler and Stefan Premer from Sphera, contributed to the creation of the Net Zero Guidelines. The guidelines define “net zero” and related terms, “high-level principles for all actors who want to achieve climate neutrality,” actionable guidance to reach net zero by 2050, as well as guidance on transparent, credible communication and “consistent reporting on emissions, reductions and removals.”  

Members of the newly formed Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) attended COP27 to discuss the group’s goals and vision for decarbonizing the semiconductor industry. The consortium, which Sphera joined as a founding member, is collaborating with the semiconductor industry to accelerate progress on climate challenges within the semiconductor value chain. To read more about the SCC, check out our blog.  

10 Essential Climate Insights Report

On Thursday, November 10, scientific experts presented the annual 10 New Insights in Climate Science report. The report provides insights on how climate change is affecting pandemics, food crises and conflicts across the world. It also covers adaptation, mitigation, finance and other topics that will be covered at COP27. 

The report notes that the ability to adapt to climate change “is not limitless.” It points out that by 2050, over 3 billion people will live in “vulnerability hotspots” that are especially susceptible to the effects of climate change, double the number that exists today.  

Looking Ahead to Next Week 

Next week, COP27 will be hosting events centered around several themes, including adaptation and agriculture, water, biodiversity, energy and possible solutions for climate change challenges. Stay tuned for our week two COP27 roundup. 

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