What Should Mongolians Expect From COP27?

COP27 signs on the way to the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh Photo: Saeed Sheisha, Reuters
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

What Should Mongolians Expect From COP27?

As the climate continues to change and many parts of the world are dealing with climate change's dire impacts, 45,000 representatives from more than 180 countries have gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh, Arab Republic of Egypt, to participate in the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

On the first two days of the two-week conference, a summit meeting of world leaders took place. Mongolian President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh participated in this high-level meeting for the second time. This year, more than 60 representatives from Mongolia are participating as well.

Through decades of climate change negotiations, jargons and acronyms have spawned across documents, reports, and media coverage. Here's a quick overview of the 27th COP that is wrapping up in Sharm el-Sheikh.

What is COP27? Why is it important to us?

COP is the abbreviation of Conference of the Parties. In 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, participating countries signed the first UN Climate Agreement. At that summit, three conventions and main topics were defined: Biodiversity, desertification, and climate change, and sub-sessions have been organized accordingly since then.

Mongolia joined the Kyoto Protocol in 1999 and the Paris Agreement in 2016, both later agreements developed at previous COPs. Mongolia is also planning to host the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Ulaanbaatar in 2026.

What are the main features of COP27?

During COP27, the issue of Loss and Damage and the financing mechanism on loss and damage is included in the agenda. It is expected that certain results will be achieved in this direction by the end of the conference.

Loss and damage financing can be defined as a financing mechanism to compensate for direct economic losses and damages caused by climate-related natural disasters and environmental degradation.

After the pandemic, many economies face challenges; inflation and poverty are increasing. If no significant measures are taken to tackle climate change, developing countries will lose an estimated US$290-580 billion by 2030 and US$1-1.8 trillion by 2050.

National Emergency Agency of Mongolia stated that Mongolia has suffered direct economic losses of 1.6 trillion MNT between 2009 and 2019. There were about one million herders affected by dud of 2016, a lethal winter of steppe. The frequency of natural disasters such as dud, droughts, and floods is increasing. South Asia, Latin American island countries, and other developing countries bear the brunt of these climate-related disasters.

What is the Kyoto Protocol? What was the result?

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement signed by governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. First discussed in 1992, ratified in 1997, and entered into force in February of 2005, the protocol sets the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees, and more than 190 countries have joined.

However, major greenhouse gas emitters such as the United States and China have not joined this protocol. The protocol, which has been criticized as insufficient, is believed to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent by 2015. The Kyoto Protocol, which expired in 2020, is succeeded by the Paris Agreement, announced at COP21.

What is the Paris Agreement? How is it implemented?

Through the Paris Agreement, 196 countries committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and if possible, to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In doing so, each country defined its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), set goals for how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and made a plan to implement them.

What is the Global Methane Pledge?

At COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland last year, talking about carbon dioxide emissions alone is not enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stakeholders pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030. The President of Mongolia presented to world leaders during COP27 that Mongolia has recently joined the global commitment to reduce methane emissions. Mongolia also became the first country in Asia to cooperate within the European Union's "Forest Partnership" program.

How much emissions does Mongolia emit?

Mongolia is one of the countries that is strongly affected by climate change, yet the country's greenhouse gas emissions account for only 0.1 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. Per capita greenhouse gas emissions are 2.7 times higher than the world average, ranking 23rd in the world.

According to the first report of climate change to the United Nations Framework Convention, Mongolia emitted a total of 34.4 million tons of CO2-eq or carbon dioxide in 2014. Half of it was energy, and 48 percent was carbon dioxide and methane gas released from the agricultural sector.

By 2030, it is estimated that 74 million tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted. In its updated Nationally Determined Contribution submitted in October 2020, Mongolia targets a 22.7% reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions. And if further mitigation measures such as carbon capture and storage, and waste-to-energy technology are implemented, Mongolia could achieve a 27.2% reduction of its emissions.

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How does climate finance work?

In short, the climate finance provided by developed countries to developing countries for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating and adapting to climate change is called climate finance.

In 2009, at the COP15 in Copenhagen, developed countries committed to allocate US$100 billion of climate finance to developing countries every year by 2020. At COP21 in Paris, this commitment was reiterated and extended to 2025.

But frustration and concerns continues to grow as developed countries fail to meet this goal. The recently published UNEP's Emissions Gap report estimates that the world will need $300 billion in green finance annually until 2030 to cope with climate change impacts such as droughts, sea level rise, and extreme storms.

How much climate finance is needed in Mongolia?

It is estimated that 30.3 trillion MNT or US$11.5 billion will be needed to implement measures to adapt to climate change and increase absorption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions until 2030.

Z. Batjargal, the National Coordinator of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also pointed out that there is a high need on capacity building in the field of climate change.

Let's talk adaptation rather than mitigation

Adaptation to climate change and the resulting crisis is a particularly heavy burden for developing countries. In the past, Mongolia has focused on mitigation of climate change and renewable energy projects instead of adaptation.

Currently, 18.2 percent of Mongolia's total installed energy capacity is provided by renewable energy. The goal is to reach 30 percent by 2030.

Stakeholders of COP27 believe that global warming cannot be kept at 2 degrees Celsius, and that it can only be kept at 2.7 degrees Celsius. Therefore, instead of supporting renewable energy projects, they are demanding to increase taxes on environmental polluters and clarify the issue of adaptation, compensation for losses and damages caused by natural disasters and climate crisis.

This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published in Mongolian in iToim on 9 November 2022 and has been translated to English and lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: COP27 signs on the way to the conference in Sharm el-Sheikh / Credit: Saeed Sheisha, Reuters.

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