Reflections on COP27 – Decarbonization

This post was made in part of a series along side our partners in Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group.

You can read the rest of the group’s posts here.

COP27 is focused on action this year. As global leaders gather, the priorities to are twofold: accountability, and; solutions to implement now.


Loss and damage negotiations are taking centerstage. Negotiations on how much nations should pay in loss and damages is an important topic, as well as the assistance needed to help the poorest countries transition to renewable energy. These conversations are timely with the re-entry of oil and gas companies, which were banned from COP last year. Given their record profits, largely due to the Ukraine crisis, leaders are pressing for a windfall tax to shift profits to aid global inequities, while acknowledging it’s time for governments to deliver on climate finance commitments.


COP27’s Decarbonization Day focused on technologies that are emerging as potential solutions to help nations achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and businesses to achieve their climate goals. The day provided an opportunity to discuss approaches and policies and showcase technologies that facilitate the transition towards a low carbon economy.

Discussions trended toward decarbonizing high-emitting sectors, namely oil, gas, steel and cement, which represent more than a quarter of global CO2 emissions. American President, Joe Biden, rallied 122 countries to join the Global Methane Pledge, aiming to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030.

In oil and gas, the following was explored:

  • best practices to end methane venting and flaring and cut methane leaks in operations
  • methods to improve energy efficiency, use renewable power and Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS).

Further topics included low carbon steel and cement and adopting circular economy approaches to reduce needs for new materials, while recognizing the importance of these products for improving infrastructure in developing nations across Africa and the Global South.

The ‘Breakthrough Agenda’

Nations representing over half the world’s GDP, including the United States and the United Kingdom, unveiled a one-year plan with 25 collaborative actions to be delivered by #COP28 to help make clean technologies cheaper and more accessible everywhere.

“Fossil fuels are a dead end. We need to increase renewable energy deployment to around 60% of total energy capacity over the course of the next eight years, which means roughly a tripling of install capacity over the course of this decade.”  United Nations Chief António Guterres has said.

And, as the UN expressed in an article last week, this is more than possible, because the world has tripled its renewable energy capacity over the last decade. We just need to do it again, as Guterres has expressed: “The technologies are there, the finance is there. It just needs to be deployed in the right place, where the emissions are and where the population growth and energy demand is.”