Matthew Murray writes about the COP27 Conference in Egypt. According to a recent UN report, global greenhouse gas emissions have experienced limited reductions since COP26. The international community, the report warns, must go further and faster on net zero in order to meet global targets. The 1.5°C goal of global warming is rapidly slipping away.
It is unsurprising then that climate action is at the forefront of COP27, with the global summit currently underway in Egypt. In his opening remarks, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stell asserted that “Sharm El-Sheikh shifts us to implementation”.
But implementation – and especially the question of who pays for it – is a heated issue.
So, what is COP27?
COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’ – the supreme decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In short, COP is the international stage upon which climate action is decided, executed, and reviewed.
Humans have unequivocally warmed the Earth
The summit has been held annually since 1995, making Sharm El-Sheikh the 27th COP. What’s more, this is only the fifth time it has been held in Africa. Amongst the 45,000 attendees are world leaders, business delegates, activists, and scientists from 196 countries. It is hoped that this meeting involving powerful, influential individuals will produce detailed plans on finance, adaptation, and mitigation.
In particular, COP27 will focus on three main themes: reducing emissions, helping countries to prepare and deal with climate change, and securing technical and financial support for developing nations.
But why is it important?
Humans have unequivocally warmed the Earth, the consequences of which are becoming apparent across the globe. In the past year, climate devastation has been especially hard to ignore.
The UK experienced record temperatures this summer, with Europe facing its worst drought in 500 years. Devastation, however, has been particularly acute outside of the West.
Months on from widespread flooding linked to climate change, millions remain homeless in Pakistan. The Horn of Africa, in contrast, is predicted to enter its fifth year of failed rains, putting tens of millions at risk of famine. Climate change is exacting a human cost, and this is set to worsen.
According to the IPCC, 3.3-3.6 billion people live in contexts highly vulnerable to climate change. Particularly at risk are those in parts of Africa, South Asia, and South America. Indeed, heat related deaths have increased by two-thirds over the last two decades.
More than ever, global cooperation is required to tackle these mammoth issues.
What has been grabbing attention at COP27?
In the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s COP U-turn and former-PM Boris Johnson’s presence at the summit has drawn headlines. But at COP itself, it is the issue of ‘loss and damage’ that has been gaining most attention, despite not featuring on last year’s agenda.
‘Loss and damage’ relates to a type of compensation paid to developing nations by those countries that have disproportionately caused climate change. This money would enable developing nations to better recover from the climate-related problems that they had little hand in causing.
Whilst controversial and contested by many who fear large liability payments, COP27 has already led to initial progress. Some countries, such as Scotland and New Zealand, have this week pledged ‘loss and damage’ funding.
COP27 continues until the 18th of November, after which eyes will turn to COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.
Featured image courtesy of Li-An Lim via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.
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