With a warning that our planet is “sending a distress signal”, the UN’s climate change summit in Egypt opened. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was replying to a UN report unveiled on Sunday, saying the last eight years were on track to be the hottest on record.
One of the biggest threats to life: “Climate change”
The majority of the world’s political leaders and the scientific community agree that one of the biggest threats to life is climate change on this planet, and the impacts are being felt and seen already in the form of droughts around the world, more severe and more frequent storms, heat waves, rampant flooding and wildfires.
More than 120 world leaders are expected to arrive at the summit, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh known as COP27. This will kick off negotiations of two weeks on climate action between countries.
Sameh Shoukry who’s COP27 president and Egyptian Foreign Minister, requested leaders to not let energy and food crisis related to Russia’s incursion of Ukraine get in the way of action on climate change. He said, “It is inborn on us all in Sharm el-Sheikh to illustrate our recognition of the intensity of the challenges we face and our steady resolve to overcome it”.
The need for action in the latest report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation was laid bare
Mr Guterres called the State of the Global Climate Report 2022 as a “chronicle of climate chaos” in a video message sent by him to the conference. Scientists estimated in it that global temperatures since pre-industrial times have now risen by 1.15C and said the last eight years were on track to be the warmest on record. The report also warned of the other broad impacts of climate change, including the record glacier mass losses, acceleration of sea level rise and record breaking heat waves.
In light of these findings, Mr Guterres said that COP27 must be the place for credible and urgent climate action.
COP27 will really begin with a World Leaders’ Summit in earnest on Monday, when heads of government and state leaders deliver a five-minute speech outlining from the meeting what they want.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to request world leaders to proceed “further and faster” in transitioning to renewable energy.
He will also urge the leaders not to “backslide” on commitments which were made at last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.
On Monday and Tuesday world leaders will speak, and as soon as they depart, conference delegates get down to the negotiation business.
A number of pledges were agreed at last year’s summit in Glasgow:
- to stop deforestation by 2030
- to “phase down” the use of one of the most polluting fossil fuels, that is coal
- to submit new climate action plans to the UN
- to cut methane emissions by 30% before 2030
Developing nations which are at the extreme front of climate change are requisitioning that past commitments to finance are sustained.
Also, as with all the formal negotiations over the two weeks there will be hundreds of events with workshops, exhibitions and cultural performances from business groups, youth, indigenous societies, artists, academia and fashion communities from all around the world.
Protests are likely to be subdued which are usually a vibrant feature of COP summits
Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi who’s been in power since 2014, has superintended a widespread crackdown on dissent. The country has had as many as 60,000 political prisoners, Rights groups estimated this and many were detained without trial.
Mr Shoukry has said that for protests to take place, space would be set apart in Sharm el-Sheikh. However, many local groups had not been able to register for the conference, said Egyptian activists to a news agency.
What is exactly a “COP”?
COP stands for “conference of parties”. This is the 27th time it has been convened and it happens annually. It is a meeting of governments that have signed and been onto the world’s greatest climate change agreements: The Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or the Paris Agreement.
The gathering is hosted each year by a different country, and it is being held in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, this year from November 6 to 18. The event for the signatory nations is an opportunity to discuss all the things from steps they are taking to adapt to the effects of climate change, to climate action financing.