Days away, COP27 is now well and truly dominating the headlines.
From promises to do better to big issues likely to be discussed at vital negotiations, we’re beginning to get a picture of what the summit could look like.
This international conference is synonymous with climate change – but what is COP27 exactly, and can it help solve the world’s most urgent environmental problems?
What is COP27?
The UN Climate Change Conference (the official name for climate Conferences of the Parties) has happened every year since 1995. These two-week summits are an important space for world leaders, politicians, experts and a whole host of other people to discuss the climate crisis on a global level.
The annual conferences bring together those that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – an international environmental treaty addressing climate change – 30 years ago.
Every UN member state is a signatory for the UNFCCC, as well as Palestine, the Cook Islands and Niue. The Holy See is also an observer of the treaty. Effectively every nation, country, or state in the world is involved, giving a total of 197 signatory parties.
Each year representatives from every party come together to discuss action on climate change for the Conference of the Parties or COP. Following COP26 in Glasgow last year, the 27th COP is being hosted in Egypt next month.
What can we expect at COP27?
“The work ahead is immense. As immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a recent pre-COP meeting.
“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in black-out,” he listed.
Adding that in the US, Hurricane Ian has delivered “a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis.”
The onslaught of climate disasters in 2022 has left little breathing space for the international community to respond. And, as the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows, time is ticking ever more dangerously towards the 1.5C threshold of global warming.
“COP27 is critical – but we have a long way to go,” adds Guterres.
When is COP27?
COP27 is taking place over two weeks, from 6 November to 18 November.
The fortnight of negotiations will kick off with a World Leader’s Summit on 7 and 8 November. After this, government officials will tackle some of the weightiest issues surrounding climate including finance, decarbonisation, adaptation and agriculture.
In the second week, big topics including gender, water and biodiversity will be in the spotlight.
Where is COP27 being held?
Egypt is hosting COP this year, in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
This is the first COP in Africa since COP22 was held in Morocco in 2016. It’s hoped that it will be an ‘African COP’ in focus as well as location as African countries face some of the worst impacts of climate change.
Who is going to be at COP27?
Around 90 heads of state have so far confirmed their attendance at COP27, a senior Egyptian official said earlier this month.
Who is not going to be at COP27?
Greta Thunberg is not going to COP27.
The Swedish climate activist has, in recent years, become one of the most famous faces at the UN’s annual climate summit.
She has been to every COP since the school strikes she started aged 15 in 2018 catapulted her to the top of the youth activist climate movement.
She was at COP24 in Poland, COP25 in Spain, and last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, where she memorably slammed leaders’ pledges as so much “blah blah blah.”
But the Sharm El-Sheikh venue is a step too far – into “a tourist paradise in a country that violates many basic human rights,” she says.
Climate veteran King Charles III also decided not to participate in the COP27 international climate change summit.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been heavily criticised for his decision not to attend COP27 “due to other pressing domestic commitments.” But in signs of a possible u-turn, Downing Street has since said that the new PM may go if enough progress is made on the country’s autumn Budget.
Why is COP27 so important?
COP matters because it provides the time and space for world leaders to take stock of the latest climate science and enact change which can only be achieved collaboratively.
(Source: Euronews, Nov. 1-2022)