Op-ed  |  November 22, 2022

In pursuit of a just and equitable future for all: 7 key takeaways from COP27

by Kristen P. Patterson

Project Drawdown engaged with myriad colleagues and partner institutions from around the world at COP27. We are pleased to share these reflections from Drawdown Lift’s director, Kristen P. Patterson, who leads our work to prioritize climate change solutions that generate multiple benefits for boosting well-being, strengthening resilience, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

The annual United Nations climate meeting wrapped up recently in Egypt. As we reflect upon the summit, I would like to share seven thoughts about #COP27, with an eye towards three topics that are critical for a just and equitable future for all—climate justice, gender equality, and emergency brake solutions.

1) Loss and damage - High income countries arrived at COP27 like my teenager with headphones on—clueless about what the rest of the world had been saying for months, namely that wealthy countries must set up a fund to deal with climate impacts like floods and droughts in low-and middle-income countries. The world hasn’t acted quickly enough on mitigation, nor on adaptation, so now we must add reparations to the mix. Major kudos to the negotiators, including government staff as well as NGO representatives, from developing countries who achieved this outcome. Yes, agreeing to create a fund (akin to the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund) is just a first step. But it's an important one.

2) Women's leadership - We should all be in awe of Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's minister for climate change, who I was honored to have met briefly at COP27. She led a group of 134 (!) countries that negotiated the loss and damage outcome. Having more women in the halls of COP27 and at the negotiation table is critical.

3) Gender equality - We desperately need the skills of all women to solve the climate crisis—regardless of whether they are from rural or urban areas, or are rich or poor. Imagine if women had been more prominent in climate negotiations or held more leadership positions over the past three decades. As we mark the 8 billion milestone this month, full bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and quality universal education are in fact key pillars of climate justice and adaptation; we can and should do more to integrate reproductive rights into climate.

4) Methane - Curbing methane—a fast-acting GHG that is responsible for nearly 45 percent of current net warming (0.5 C out of 1.1C)—is absolutely essential. We need to act decisively to reduce methane by 30% by 2030. By winning the sprint on methane, we give ourselves a bit more time to complete the marathon on other long-acting GHGs like carbon dioxide by 2050.

5) Clean cooking - A major source of black carbon (aka soot), traditional cooking using wood, crop residues, and dried dung is terrible for women, young children, their health, and the environment. In six countries (DRC, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda, and Tanzania), just five percent or less of the population has access to clean cooking. Providing women-informed and locally-appropriate clean cooking to the 2.4 billion people who lack access would be a huge win for gender equality, health, and the climate, and was highlighted in many COP27 events.

6) Nature - Protecting and restoring the ecosystems upon which we all depend is critical. President-elect Lula da Silva's commitments to re-engage Brazil, along with the DRC and Indonesia, in protecting major tropical forests were very welcomed. Many discussions and presentations focused on the role that tropical forest systems and agricultural and agroforestry systems can play for both adaptation and mitigation as well as for boosting food security.

7) Solutions - We don't need to reinvent the wheel - we have the solutions in hand to solve the climate crisis. Drawdown Lift’s Climate-Poverty Connections report, released earlier this year, highlights 28 proven solutions that contribute to well-being and the SDGs, climate adaptation, and climate mitigation. Working together with individuals, governments, donors, and the private sector, we can advance actions that support low-carbon pathways to socioeconomic development, improve health, and address the climate crisis.

Looking ahead, the Drawdown Lift team at Project Drawdown is eager to further engage with colleagues we met at COP27 and our Lift Advisory Council members as we collaboratively lead the way forward for a more just and equitable future.

Press Contacts

If you are a journalist and would like Project Drawdown updates and/or digital assets for editorial use, please contact press@drawdown.org.

More Insights

Press Release  |  November 17, 2022
Discover your inner climate superhero
by Drawdown Stories
Drawdown’s Neighborhood, presented by Project Drawdown, is a series of short documentaries featuring the stories of climate solutions heroes, city by city. We are extremely excited to share with you that the series’ second edition—Drawdown’s Neighborhood: Atlanta—is now available online! We invite you to join host and Project Drawdown director of storytelling and engagement Matt Scott on a journey to “pass the mic” to nine climate heroes whose stories often go unheard, and elevate climate action—and stories about careers, race, gender, sexuality, mental health, personal and community resilience, family, and more—in the process. The series’ second round of documentary shorts showcases the Atlanta, Georgia, which played a pivotal role in the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and today maintains a strong global reputation for social activism, cultural diversity, and economic innovation. In its climate action plan, the City of Atlanta has recognized the need for change, acknowledging “the risk that climate change poses” and asserting that “local action is needed to reduce the City of Atlanta’s contribution to the problem of climate change and adapt to its current and future effects.” In response to the impacts of climate change, people from all over the city are mobilizing to fuel a green future – leveraging Atlanta’s innovative spirit and rich tradition of civic engagement to achieve much-needed change. This series showcases the diverse “Neighborhood” of people working in Atlanta and surrounding communities to help the world reach drawdown, the future point when levels of greenhouse gases start to steadily decline. Each story serves as a bridge between climate solutions and people like you looking to tap into their own superpowers to stop climate change.   The Drawdown’s Neighborhood short documentaries touch on a range of themes used to inspire action. Themes include pathways to climate careers; collaboration across silos, including geographies, sectors, and ideologies; diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice; hope and opportunity; individual action paired with systems change; and personal and community resilience. The nine stories from Atlanta center the voices of women, Black people, people of color, immigrants, and others who are often not represented in the climate dialogue and yet are commonly most immediately and severely vulnerable to the impacts of climate catastrophe. You’ll find your superpower with Demetrius Milling, whose work with the Love is Love Cooperative Farm propels a vision for a just, healthy, and sustainable world powered by local community collaboration—a model to be replicated as we build the future. You’ll turn the page and embrace change with Adam Hicks, who simultaneously fights food insecurity and climate change by diverting food waste from farms to help the local community access fresh fruits and vegetables—helping to draw down climate emissions while addressing hunger through millions of servings of fruits and vegetables made accessible via donations to local food banks and shelters. You’ll ask questions and find answers with Blair Beasley, who supports research for Drawdown Georgia, a first-of-its-kind, state-centered initiative to crowd-solve for climate change by focusing on five high-impact climate solutions areas of electricity, transportation, buildings and materials, food and agriculture, and land sinks to drastically cut carbon emissions.  The series also includes: Eri Saikawa, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at Emory University  Kendrick Kelsey, Reuse Center Associate at the Lifecycle Building Center Robin Okunowo, Program Coordinator with Captain Planet Foundation’s Planeteer Alliance Steve Place, Horticulturist II with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design Tonya Hicks, President and CEO of Power Solutions Inc. Tylesha Giddings, Technical Project Manager at Southface Institute Feeling inspired? To unleash your inner climate superhero, visit Drawdown’s Neighborhood to discover solutions and take action today. 
Read more