United Nations (UN) climate summits are held every year, for governments to agree on steps to limit global temperature rises. They are referred to as COPs, which stands for “Conference of the Parties”. The parties are the attending countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992.
COP27 is the 27th annual UN meeting on climate. It is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh until 18 November. World leaders in attendance are discussing action to tackle climate change at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. It follows a year of climate-related disasters and broken temperature records.
Global temperatures have risen 1.1C and are heading towards 1.5C, according to the UN’s climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). If temperatures rise 1.7 to 1.8C above 1850s levels, the IPCC estimates that half the world’s population could be exposed to life-threatening heat and humidity. To prevent this, 194 countries signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, pledging to “pursue efforts” to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.
More than 200 governments have been invited, but it will be a waiting game to see whether the major contributor nations to climate change will attend. Hosts Egypt called on countries to put their differences aside and “show leadership” on the issue of climate change. Environmental charities, community groups, think tanks, businesses, and faith groups will also take part.
This will be the fifth time a COP has been hosted in Africa. The region’s governments hope it will draw attention to the severe impacts of climate change on the continent. The IPCC says Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world. Currently, 20 million people are estimated to be facing food insecurity in east Africa because of drought.
Ahead of the meeting, countries were asked to submit ambitious national climate plans. Only 25 have done so to date. COP27 will focus on three main areas:
- Reducing emissions
- Helping countries to prepare for and deal with climate change
- Securing technical support and funding for developing countries for the above
Some areas not fully resolved or covered at COP26 will be picked up:
- Loss and damage finance – money to help countries recover from the effects of climate change, rather than just prepare for it.
- Establishment of a global carbon market – to price the effects of emissions into products and services globally.
- Strengthen the commitments to reduce coal use.
- There will also be themed days on issues including gender, agriculture, and biodiversity.
Some of the key phrases you will hear:
Paris accord: The 2015 Paris Agreement united all the world’s nations – for the first time – in a single agreement on tackling global warming and cutting greenhouse gas emissions
IPCC: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change examines the latest research into climate change
1.5C: Keeping the rise in global average temperature below 1.5C – compared with pre-industrial times – will avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to scientists
Do we expect any sticking points?
Finance has long been an issue at climate talks. In 2009, developed countries committed to giving $100bn (£88bn) a year, by 2020, to developing countries to help them reduce emissions and prepare for climate change. The target was missed and moved back to 2023.
But developing nations are also calling for payments for “loss and damage” – the impacts faced now. An option for making such payments was excluded from the Bonn Climate talks, after pushback from wealthier nations who feared they would be forced to pay compensation for decades. But the EU agreed that discussions should take place at COP27.
Following intense negotiations, the issue of loss and damage payments is on the official agenda of COP27. Developing countries will also be pushing to have a date set for when they might start to receive payments. Developed nations will be looking for more commitment from large developing countries – such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa – to move away from coal, the dirtiest of fossil fuels.
There are also pledges from last year’s meeting – on forests, coal, and methane – that more countries may support. However, some scientists believe world leaders have left it too late and no matter what is agreed upon at COP27, 1.5C will not be achieved.
As our President indicated in his speech...given our expansive carbon footprint, Kenya has the potential to generate 30 million tons of carbon credits by the year 2030. Will the promise by major polluters to pay be realized?
We can only wait and hope!