Climate change is highly inequitable. Those most vulnerable to its impacts are the communities least responsible for producing the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

For too many years at too many UN climate summits, wealthy nations ignored pleas to provide vulnerable countries the support they need to overcome the climate crisis. While COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 saw a flurry of commitments from governments and others to cut emissions, provide more climate finance, curb deforestation and more, it’s still unclear how these pledges will be turned into reality.

COP27’s success will be measured on its ability to deliver on two goals: solidarity and accountability.


Woman wearing face mask planting mangrove tree in water.
Young people in Situbondo, Indonesia care for young mangrove trees as part of restoration efforts. Mangroves can protect coastal communities from storm surge and erosion. Photo by Sam Maulidna/Shutterstock

1. Solidarity

Egypt is a fitting location for COP27, as it lays bare the inherent inequity of climate change: The African continent is responsible for only 3% of global CO2 emissions, yet it is on the front lines of the world’s climate, energy and food crises.

At COP27, wealthy nations must show long-overdue solidarity by addressing the suffering and economic pain that disproportionately falls on vulnerable countries and marginalized communities.

Specifically, this means:

Scaling up support for adaptation

The world cannot rely on emissions reductions alone to fight climate change — it’s clear from ongoing extreme weather that some impacts are inevitable. Yet adaptation receives less than mitigation and far below what’s really needed to build resilience.

At COP26, wealthy countries pledged to double adaptation finance; at COP27, they must show how they’re going to do it and ensure it reaches the communities that need it most. Negotiators must also better define the Paris Agreement’s Global Goal on Adaptation, including prioritizing adaptation projects led by local communities.

Flooded streets.
Stagnant floodwater inundates settlements along the Indus River in Pakistan. Intense flooding in the region in September 2022 claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people. Photo by Asianet-Pakistan/Shutterstock

Addressing loss and damage

Some impacts are so devastating and disruptive they cannot be adapted to — such as droughts that turn once-productive farms barren, or rising seas that permanently flood low-lying island communities. These consequences are known as “loss and damage.”

Despite its urgency and importance, loss and damage received scant attention at previous COPs and is so far only a provisional item on the COP27 negotiating agenda. Addressing loss and damage directly — and establishing a mechanism for financing it — will be a central measure of success for COP27. Learn more.

Honoring climate finance commitments

In 2009, wealthy nations committed to provide a collective $100 billion in climate finance to vulnerable countries every year from 2020-2025. They delivered only $83.3 billion in 2020.

Countries must come to COP27 prepared to honor their full financial commitments, as well as make progress toward setting a more ambitious collective climate finance goal for after 2025. The goal should reflect the true level of finance vulnerable countries need to address climate mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.

Workers installing solar panels.
Workers install solar panels onto the roof of a new industrial building. As countries move toward clean energy, they’ll need to ensure a “just transition” for those whose livelihoods depended on the fossil fuel sector. Photo by NavinTar/Shutterstock

Supporting a just transition to clean energy

Shifting to clean energy can create jobs, reduce pollution and enhance quality-of-life. But without smart policy, it can also leave people and communities behind — especially those who historically relied on the fossil fuel sector.

At COP26, South Africa announced a partnership with five wealthy nations to mobilize $8.5 billion for its own just clean energy transition. At COP27, we’ll need to see a detailed implementation plan — one that can hopefully inspire other just transition policies and initiatives. And donor countries should come to COP27 prepared to support just transition efforts in other countries. Learn more.


Activists at COP26 with umbrellas reading "Climate Crisis" "Act Now" and more.
At COP26 in Glasgow, shown here, countries, businesses, cities and more announced several new climate action commitments. At COP27 in Egypt, they’ll need to demonstrate progress. Photo by William Gibson/Unsplash

2. Accountability

Climate plans — not only from governments, but from businesses, cities and more — are only as good as their implementation. COP26 resulted in an impressive number of new commitments both inside and outside the formal UN negotiations. COP27 is the time to turn pledges into progress.

Governments and others now need to show that they are following through on their promises by:

Strengthening national climate targets.

The COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact requested that countries revisit their 2030 emissions-reduction targets to align them with the goal of holding global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F), the limit scientists say is necessary for averting the worst impacts of climate change. As of September 2022, only 15 nations had come forward with new emissions-reduction plans.

All countries — especially major emitters — need to set more ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction targets, known as NDCs, by COP27. These targets should be backed by the right finance, policies and plans to ensure they can be fully implemented.

Double-decker bus in London.
London is one of more than 1,000 cities that joined the Cities Race to Zero initiative, launched at COP26 in 2021. At COP27, cities will need detail how they plan to achieve net-zero emissions by the 2040s or sooner. Photo by Tupungato/Shutterstock

Demonstrating progress on COP26 commitments.

COP26 saw numerous new climate action commitments from governments, major corporations, cities and more. Pledges included everything from slashing emissions to halting deforestation to phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. At COP27, decision-makers must show us they’re serious.

We’ll be looking for demonstrable progress as well as detailed implementation plans from initiatives forged at COP26, such as:

For a deeper look at what’s needed at COP27, check out our in-depth article. You can also track progress on COP27’s key issues by reading our latest news and articles.