Earlier this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that almost 3.6 billion people worldwide are dangerously exposed and vulnerable to climate impacts — with things set to worsen. These impacts are not felt equally. Vulnerable countries, despite their limited contribution to climate change and ambitious climate action commitments, are and will continue to shoulder the bulk of this burden.

And while these hard facts should set the pace and scale for action at the UN’s COP27 climate summit in November, rising fuel prices, high inflation rates, the world’s slow emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic,  and challenging geopolitics threaten to disrupt and delay the ambition needed to help climate-vulnerable countries. That’s a problem for everyone: Putting climate on the back burner this year will only fuel more vulnerability by squeezing food supplies, disrupting supply chains, triggering mass climate migration, and threatening people’s health and livelihoods.

The Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025) consortium, a coalition amplifying the voices of vulnerable countries in climate negotiations, has set out a five-point plan to help decision makers at COP27 address the needs of climate-vulnerable countries. Developed by organizations from the Global South, ACT2025’s Alliance Statement lays out where concrete action is needed at the summit. Here are the key action items:

1) Bridge the mitigation gap to help limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C.

Research shows that preventing the worst impacts of climate change will require holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F). During COP26, scientists delivered a sobering assessment of countries’ 2030 emissions-reduction targets: They point the planet towards at least 2.5 degrees C of warming by the end of this century — a catastrophic pathway for vulnerable countries in particular.

Recognizing the urgency of the challenge, the Glasgow Climate Pact — the formal outcome of COP26 — calls on countries to “revisit and strengthen” their commitments (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs) by COP27, to align them with these global temperature goals. Yet so far only a handful have meaningfully done so.

This includes Vanuatu, one of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the South Pacific. The nation’s groundbreaking plan — which can serve as a model for future NDCs from climate-vulnerable countries — includes comprehensive loss and damage commitments; more than 100 adaptation targets; and pledges on gender, Indigenous Peoples, finance and more. And while Vanuatu contributes only about 0.0016% to global emissions, its NDC aims to reduce emissions even further by phasing out fossil fuels and launching new initiatives around electric vehicles and energy efficiency.

Vanuatu’s plan should inspire all other nations to step up. All countries — especially G20 countries —must strengthen their NDCs and long-term strategies in a credible, ambitious manner by COP27. These NDCs must be in line with the Glasgow Climate Pact and scientific evidence provided by the IPCC.

At COP26, countries also agreed to establish the Work Programme on Mitigation Ambition and Implementation to help countries increase ambition and translate it into real action on the ground. Under this program, major emitters — especially the G20 — must achieve net-zero emissions before 2050 if we are to keep the 1.5-degree C goal alive.

2) Make good on promises to deliver high-quality and scaled-up finance, especially to the most vulnerable.

Developed countries have failed to fulfill their promise of delivering $100 billion annually to developing nations to assist with climate action, falling goal feeding into the credibility gap and hamstringing the ability of developing countries to plan further climate action. Developed countries are falling collectively $17 billion short in 2020, according to the latest available data. Of the climate finance provided and mobilized, most focused on mitigation, with only about 24% going to adaptation. Loans continue to be the main instrument used to provide public climate finance, contributing to unsustainable debt levels in some vulnerable developing countries.

What’s now needed from COP27 are clear signals from developed countries, especially the G7 (which should provide the bulk of this climate finance), that they are going to provide the promised $600 billion from 2020-2025. This must be complemented by a delivery plan and a roadmap for increasing transparent, accessible and grant-based finance, especially for adaptation. It must also result in balanced adaptation and mitigation finance by 2025.

Finally, as countries continue to deliberate on a new collective quantified finance goal to go into effect after 2025, they must set clear targets for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage finance (please see action item 4 below for more information on finance for loss and damage). The end result should be a framework that combines the indispensable role of public funding from developed countries with other sources, such as levies on air travel, taxes on windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, or a financial transaction tax, and helps mobilize more finance from the private sector and other non-state actors.

3) Enhance adaptation efforts.

COP26 made progress on the Global Goal on Adaptation, a key component of the Paris Agreement that aims to strengthen resilience and reduce communities’ vulnerability to climate impacts. The conference also established the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh Work Programme on the Global Goal on Adaptation to assess progress toward the adaptation goal and enable its implementation. At COP27, countries need to make concrete progress under the Work Programme, specifically on the scope of the goal, data and metrics, and reporting methodologies.

The urgency for enhanced adaptation action is underscored by the IPCC report,  which finds that every tenth of a degree of additional warming will escalate threats to people, species and ecosystems. Yet many communities still lack the resources required to manage today’s climate change impacts, let alone worse ones in the future.

To advance national action and provide a clearer estimate for adaptation finance needs, countries must also prepare their National Adaptation Plans and Adaptation Communications, two tools set up under the Paris Agreement. And developed countries need to provide grant-based funding to finance adaptation plans, especially through the Adaptation Fund and other entities of the Financial Mechanism established under the UNFCCC. While the promise made at COP26 in Glasgow to double adaptation financing to reach around $40 billion annually is a great start, it is still a far cry from the amount vulnerable countries actually need. (Read more on ACT2025’s call to action on adaptation.)


People take refuge on the roofs of buildings following flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.
People take refuge on the roofs of buildings following flooding caused by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique.
Photo by World Vision

4) Secure finance for loss and damage.

Momentum for confronting loss and damage — which involves supporting vulnerable communities and countries that lose homes and livelihoods to increasingly severe climate impacts — finally gained steam leading up to and during COP26. However, despite an urgent plea from climate-vulnerable countries, developed nations rejected a  proposal for a new loss and damage financing facility. Instead, countries established the Glasgow Dialogue to discuss possible arrangements for loss and damage funding.

Recent events like the devastating summer 2022 floods in Pakistan and the hurricanes in the Atlantic and Caribbean September have only reinforced the need for urgent action. Political signals like Denmark’s commitment during the UN General Assembly meetings in September to mobilize DKK 100 million (approximately $13 million) for addressing loss and damage are important, but not enough. At COP27, countries will have another chance to establish a financing mechanism and ensure a process to secure adequate, accessible, additional and fit-for-purpose financing for loss and damage — at the latest, by COP28 in 2023. One way to start would be adding loss and damage finance and related finance arrangements to the COP27 agenda, as proposed by the G77 and China, to create formal decision-making spaces to complement the informal forum of the Glasgow Dialogue.

Countries also made progress at COP26 on the operationalization and funding of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage (SNLD), which aims to provide developing countries with technical assistance on how to address loss and damage. Since then, countries have held informal consultations. At COP27, nations will need to agree on arrangements to finally and officially launch the SNLD, ensure sufficient financing for it, and figure out how to provide technical assistance in ways that empower local communities. (Read more on ACT2025’s call to action on addressing loss and damage.)

5) Implement the Paris Rulebook to hold countries and non-state actors accountable.

Implementing the Paris Rulebook, the rules underpinning the Paris Agreement, is crucial to ensure transparency and accountability for action. . COP27’s vital role is to serve as a forcing point that drives action on the ground, so advancing processes such as the Global Stocktake, which assesses countries’ collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s goals, will be key.

The first Global Stocktake process must be done in a way that is inclusive, raises awareness, ensures the meaningful participation of Global South organizations, and paves the way for a comprehensive outcome that promotes increased NDC ambition and is centered around equity and science. Additionally, the UN Secretary-General should provide a robust framework for increasing the accountability of non-state actors’ net-zero commitments, including those from businesses, investors, cities and regions. This can be done through the recently established High-Level Expert Group on the Net-Zero Emissions Commitments of Non-State Entities.

COP27: A Time for Climate Action

Countries must use COP27 as an opportunity to stand in solidarity in the face of compounding crises.

Deferring climate action this year would be a reckless short-term measure with costly impacts on our long-term human security and well-being. Failing to support developing countries on the frontlines of rising fragility will only fuel further fragility and devastation, requiring more radical action in the future.

This article was originally published May 5, 2022, and was updated November 1, 2022.