World leaders will gather in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the 27th session of the Conference of Parties on Climate Change Nov 6–18, 2022. Alok Sharma, COP26 president, will hand over the presidency to the new president of COP27, Dr. Sameh Shoukry of Egypt. Egypt is a fitting location for COP27, for it lays bare the inherent inequity of climate change: the African continent is responsible for only 3 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, yet it is on the front lines of the world’s climate, energy and food crises.
Will there be ambition, commitment and the political will to honor their commitments to implement the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming 1.5 degree Centigrade? According to the COP26 President, the 1.5C target is “on life support… its pulse is weak.” At COP26 countries agreed to focus on limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Another unfinished business from COP26 is the pledge made by countries on emissions cuts, which was inadequate to meet the goal. So governments agreed to return this November with improved commitments.
The decision made in Glasgow to phase down fossil fuels is not going to happen. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has created an energy crisis, and many countries are seeking more fossil fuels – the UK has offered 898 blocks of the UK seabed for exploration; Germany has returned, in a minor way and temporarily, to coal-fired power generation; the United States is pumping more gas; French companies are contemplating using oil in place of gas. The optimism of COP26 is not visible at this COP.
Between Glasgow and Sharm El-Sheik, the world has witnessed extreme weather conditions: a third of Pakistan is flooded, Europe had the hottest summer in 500 years, and hurricanes and typhoons have flattened and flooded many areas in the world. Emissions are at an all-time high. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the participants of the pre-COP, “we are in a life-or-death struggle for our own safety today and our survival tomorrow,” and that there is no time for pointing fingers or twiddling thumbs. Instead, compromise between developed countries and emerging economies needs to happen.
Guterres stated that COP27 is a litmus test for the governments – how seriously they are taking the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries. He likes to see decisions made on the question of loss and damage, beyond countries’ ability to adapt and financial support for climate action. In addition, the world needs to have clarity from developed countries on the delivery of their $100 billion pledge to support climate action in developing countries. Failure to act will lead to more loss of trust and more climate change.
COP27 needs to deliver on solidarity and accountability. Wealthy nations must show solidarity by addressing the suffering and economic pain that disproportionately falls on vulnerable countries and marginalized communities.
Teresa Kotturan SCN
NGO Representative at the UN
Sisters of Charity Federation