The 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—COP27 is here. This year, the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt is hosting the event at the coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh for the largest annual gathering on climate action.
Heads of State, ministers, industry representatives, negotiators, activists and CEOs will gather to tackle the global challenge of climate change.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Secretary-General António Guterres laid out the worsening affects worldwide.
“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years.
The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in blackout. And here, in the United States, Hurricane Ian has delivered a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis,” he stated.
Starting in 1992, the Conference of the Parties (COP) is the group of nations that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system."
Commenting on the corporate focus on COP27 and what businesses can expect, Santhosh Jayaram, Global Head of Sustainability, HCLTech, said: “The clock is ticking and decisive action to mitigate climate change must be a top priority today. From COP27, the world will expect to see more clarity and support from governments on measurable targets, finance, policies and regulatory process to catalyze real societal change and industrial transformation.”
Key focus area of COP27
- Decarbonization: Delivering on the commitments made in Glasgow during COP26, equitably in emerging economies will be a key focus of COP27. Across the globe, countries are experiencing an unprecedented wave of urbanization. The materials required to achieve climate-resilient cities will be a crucial part of the solution to solving decarbonization issues.
Over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from building materials including concrete, steel, aluminum and chemicals. Reducing the cost of clean methods and technologies and transitioning from carbon-intensive traditional methods will be critical to transforming these global sectors.
- Loss and damage: “Loss and damage” refers to the consequences of climate change that go beyond what people can adapt to or when options do exist and a community doesn’t have the resources to access or utilize them. For example, rising seas encroaching on low-lying islands or drought-shrinking freshwater resources.
Under the Paris Climate Agreement, developed countries recognized the importance of “averting, minimizing and addressing” loss and damage and taking preemptive action to protect communities from the consequences of climate change (adaptation). COP27 is the platform to acknowledge and respond to the overwhelming scientific evidence on loss and damage.
- Climate adaptation: According to the IPCC Report, almost 3.3 billion people now live in highly vulnerable climate contexts. It’s estimated that 10 million people are now displaced from the harrowing floods in Pakistan last month.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, August 2022 was the world’s sixth-warmest August in 143 years. The disastrous impacts of climate change are becoming more acute.
The most vulnerable communities, who are least responsible for climate change, and least well-resourced to respond to climate impacts, will continue to be on the front line.
COP27 goals and vision
The Egyptian COP27 Presidency has defined the summit’s four key goals as:
- Mitigation: All parties are encouraged to limit global warming to well below 2oC and work hard to keep the 1.5oC target alive. This requires bold and immediate actions and raising ambition from those who can do so and those who can lead by example.
COP27 will be a moment for countries to fulfill their pledges and commitments toward delivering the objectives of the Paris Agreement to enhance the implementation of the Convention.
- Adaptation: The Global Goal on Adaptation was one of the significant outcomes of COP26. Ensuring that COP27 makes the crucially needed progress and urging all parties to show the political will to capture and assess progress towards enhancing resilience and assist the most vulnerable communities.
COP27 should witness an enhanced global agenda for action on adaptation, confirming what was agreed on in Paris and further elaborated in the Glasgow pact about placing adaptation at the forefront of global action.
- Finance: COP27 should make significant progress on the crucial issue of climate finance while moving forward on all finance-related items on the agenda.
The importance of adequacy and predictability of climate finance is key to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. There is a need for enhanced transparency of financial flows and facilitated access to meet the needs of developing countries, especially Africa, LDCs and SIDS.
Progress on the delivery of the annual USD 100 billion will build more trust between developed and developing countries, showing that actual commitments are being fulfilled.
- Collaboration: As the UN negotiations are consensus-based, reaching an agreement will require inclusive and active participation from all stakeholders. Governments, the private sector and civil society need to work together, to transform how we interact with our planet while ensuring humans are at the center of climate talks.
As the pressure to act increases, countries, governments and businesses will have to collaborate to achieve real progress to net zero. COP26 represented a start, which saw a flurry of new pledges - around coal, deforestation, methane emissions and more, according to the Climate Action Tracker.
COP27 expects to show the progress achieved to date, take stock of the latest climate science and how countries are adhering to climate accountability as promised—to enact change. COP27 is “the number one litmus test” of how seriously governments take the growing climate toll on the most vulnerable countries, said Guterres.