Climate action is top of mind for many countries around the world. With the UN SDGs and the excellent work of on-the-ground organizations as waymarkers, we’re taking baby steps towards climate-positive factors like clean energy and restoration.
However, the more we come together, the better we’re able to pool our resources and make larger-scale changes. For the last three decades, the United Nations has been bringing nations together in international climate conferences. The COPs, or Conference of the Parties, represent the world’s greatest opportunity to rein in climate change.
This year’s COP27 is happening from the 6th to the 18th of November and is hosted by Egypt in Sharm el-Sheikh. But before we dive into what is special about this one, let’s have a refresher on the Conference of the Parties.
All about COP (Conference of the Parties)
In the Conference of the Parties, the term “parties” describes countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As of today, there are 197 signatories to this 1994 convention (196 countries and the EU). It is in charge of directing the Convention so that it may address both national and international needs pertaining to climate change.
The historic Paris Agreement was created as a result of the Conference of the Parties that took place in Paris in 2015. Known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, countries pledged to submit national plans stating how much they will reduce their emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Every five years, they committed to reviewing and updating the strategy to reflect their current ambitions.
While a whole host of topics are discussed at the COP, climate change mitigation, adaptation to climate change effects, and financial support to developing countries disproportionately affected by climate change are often top priority items on the agenda.
A refresher on COP26
Last year, Glasgow, Scotland, hosted the 26th Conference of the Parties. After overshooting the deadline by a day, the Parties finally agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact, which contained a promise to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and to “phase down” coal power. At COP26, the Paris rulebook was also completed, opening the door for trading carbon emissions under Article 6.
However, many climate activists were disappointed that COP26 did not sufficiently address another vital requirement: a financing mechanism that would speed up the availability of financial help from developed nations in the battle against the long-term harm climate change has caused.
What is special about COP27?
The 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties will bring together 198 members of the convention to once again discuss where we are on climate change and collectively decide on action points.
COP27 is critical because it follows the solemn finding that we are not at all on track to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report states that emissions have increased more than ever in the last ten years despite the need for immediate action. The repercussions of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have added further barriers on the road to decarbonization and global climate cooperation.
As the first global climate event in the wake of these catastrophes, COP27 holds great potential and much pressure on its shoulders. Many climate change activists and entrepreneurs are also looking at pushing the loss and damage finance agenda this time around since COP26 did not deliver on this front, and said:
“[Countries] need dedicated loss and damage support – separate and additional to finance for adaptation and mitigation.” — Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.
“Our territories contribute the least to the climate crisis, yet we pay the ultimate price for our world’s carbon addiction.” — Conrod Hunte, Antigua and Barbuda’s UN Ambassador.
South Asian countries are backing this talking point as they have seen some of the worst effects of climate change this year. At least 33 million people in Pakistan have been impacted by catastrophic flooding, resulting in losses of at least USD 10 billion. Similar flooding destroyed the homes and lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh and North-east India earlier this year. At COP27, we can expect vulnerable states to put pressure on developed countries to make loss and damage support a priority during negotiations.
In general, however, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency has defined critical overarching goals for the conference. They are:
All parties will be asked to adopt “bold and rapid actions” and reduce emissions to keep global warming well below two °C, especially those in a position to “lead by example.”
Achieve “critically needed progress” at COP27 to help the world’s most vulnerable populations and improve climate change resilience.
Make considerable strides in the area of climate finance, particularly delivering the annual $100 billion in aid promised to developing nations.
Encourage “inclusive and active participation from all parties” because the UN negotiations are consensus-based.
Key areas to watch during COP27
According to the World Economic Forum, we can expect high-priority areas to be extensively covered during COP27. They include:
COP26 saw the shaping of unprecedented multi-stakeholder cooperation to preserve and regenerate nature, including forests and oceans. It is hoped that progress will continue by leaps and bounds during COP27. The Nature Pavilion, in particular, will serve as a key focal point for these multistakeholder alliances.
We can expect the spotlight to shine on materials needed to create low-carbon, climate-resilient cities. This is a particularly critical issue because the global East and South are currently experiencing an unprecedented wave of globalization.
The Egyptian COP leadership has water security as one of its top priorities. There have also been other water-related crises in the last few years, including floods and heavy rain. We can anticipate that this will be one of COP27’s main focal areas.
Agri-commodity prices have increased sharply as a result of the food crisis, which has been made worse by constrained supply chains, the conflict in Ukraine, and rising energy costs. How we scale the solutions necessary to fulfill our expanding food demand while maintaining climate resilience will be a key topic at COP27 and the focal point at the Food Systems Pavilion.
The final word
We are on the precipice of one of the most important climate conversations. It’s an opportune time to pick up the slack on climate change mitigation efforts at a local and individual level, to create waves of influence too powerful to ignore. EcoMatcher is a staunch believer that, in our ways and at community and organizational levels, we can all contribute to a better planet.