COP27 is over. What's in the final climate deal? Delegates reached a last-minute deal to pay vulnerable countries for damages caused by climate change. But the final agreement does not put humanity on track to avoid catastrophic warming.

Did the world make progress on climate change? Here's what was decided at global talks

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


It took an extra day and night, but countries reached an agreement at international climate talks in Egypt. We have Nathan Rott of NPR's climate desk, who is there now. Good morning, Nate.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Hey, good morning.

RASCOE: Okay, so good news first - tell us about the progress made in these talks.

ROTT: Yeah. So the biggest movement at this year's climate conference, without question, was the creation of a fund for something the United Nations calls loss and damage. Basically, it's a fund that will be created by developed countries like the U.S. that have prospered by burning fossil fuels and warming the planet. The intention is then distributing those funds to developing countries that didn't cause much of the warming but are already suffering the worst consequences of a warmed world.

RASCOE: So this will go to smaller countries, like many in the global South, right?

JAMES SHAW: Yeah, exactly. So, like, take Pakistan, right? It's been the - maybe the most cited example of this over the last few weeks and months. Pakistan experienced torrential floods over the summer, killed more than 1,500 people. The damages are expected to exceed $30 billion. Pakistan says it does not have the money to deal with this on its own, and it didn't cause much of the global warming that fueled these storms. That's why it came into this conference with loss and damage being its top priority. I caught up with Pakistan's climate change minister, Sherry Rehman, earlier, and she said the creation of this fund is historic, but there's still a lot of details that need to be worked out.

SHERRY REHMAN: If all of us operationalize it the way it should - we don't create blockades in it. We don't bureaucratize it. We don't bog it down in stovepiping and red tape - then I think it will start to have an impact on the ground.

ROTT: You may have noticed a couple of caveats there, Ayesha. That's because there's a long history of developed countries saying they're going to take steps to help more vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change and then falling very short of those pledges.

RASCOE: Yeah, I mean, because even in the U.S., they would need Congress to approve some of this funding, right?

ROTT: Exactly.

RASCOE: So where did the talks fall short?

ROTT: So two big things - first, a number of countries came into negotiations hoping to get a goal of having global greenhouse gas emissions peak in 2025. That's what the science is basically telling us we need to do to avoid worst-case climate scenarios. That did not happen. Another big disappointment for folks here was softening of language around energy systems. So climate advocates, countries, including the U.S., really wanted to see a pledge at COP27 to phase out - not phase down - all fossil fuels. James Shaw, New Zealand's climate change minister, says, the U.S. really was pushing for that in negotiations but was getting stiff pushback.

SHAW: You know, there is a group of countries that are working very hard to undermine Paris, to undermine Glasgow, to undermine the commitment to 1.5, to undermine any references to language around phasing out any form of fossil fuel. And it's hard work.

ROTT: Now, Shaw would not elaborate on which of those countries he was talking about that wanted to undermine previous climate agreements like Paris, but we do know that Saudi Arabia and Russia particularly pushed back on that idea.

RASCOE: So, I mean, let's step back for the big picture. Like, where do we stand on slowing climate change?

ROTT: So planet-warming emissions are still on the rise. There is a push to start new fossil fuel development in Europe and Africa - the U.S. because of the global energy crisis, set off in part by Russia's war in Ukraine. That 1.5 reference you heard Shaw say just a minute ago - that's the temperature that the world has kind of agreed that we need to limit warming to - 1.5 degrees Celsius. The world, Ayesha, has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius. And with emissions rising, with the slow pace of these international negotiations, I think there's a growing understanding that it's going to be very difficult for the world to stay under that threshold.

RASCOE: That's NPR's Nathan Rott in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Thank you so much for joining us.

ROTT: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.