Next week, world leaders will gather in Egypt for a crucial UN Climate Change Conference (COP27). It follows a year of climate-related disasters and broken temperature records.
Here is a quick guide to COP27
What is COP27?
For almost three decades, world leaders have met annually to address and respond to the climate emergency.
Under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), every country is treaty-bound to “avoid dangerous climate change” and to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally in an equitable way.
COP stands for Conference of the Parties under the UNFCCC, and the annual meetings have resulted in both disasters and triumphs.
Notable COP meetings include COP3 which took place in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan and led to the Kyoto Protocol – which outlined the greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligations.
COP21, which was held in Paris in 2015, led to the Paris Agreement – which is a legally binding international treaty on climate change which was adopted by 196 parties with the goal to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
This COP will be the 27th meeting and will be held in Egypt from Sunday, November 6 to Friday, November 18.
Who will attend COP27?
About 90 heads of state have confirmed attendance at COP27 where they will address issues including energy transition and food security at opening sessions. Minister for the Environment, Eamon Ryan, will lead Ireland’s delegation.
Environmental charities, community groups, think tanks, businesses and faith groups will also take part.
Why is COP so important?
As the Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report said, we are facing a “code red for humanity”.
Global emissions must be halved by 2030 and “net-zero emissions” achieved by 2050 to have any chance of containing temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times.
The COP process is the only established global mechanism for such collective action. Good COP outcomes show it’s possible to act in unison despite political tensions and economies operating at different paces.
The UNFCCC process as a consensus-based process among all governments per se is not designed to correct all the failures, lack of climate action and dangerous inconsistencies in national climate policies (and in the speeches of national leaders), so this one COP will not ‘solve’ the climate problem, as previous COPs have not been able to do. But it has a key role to play, within the wider sphere of international policy moments and processes, to advance the finalisation of the Paris Agreement rulebook and strengthen its implementation architecture.
COP is also vital to generate attention of policymakers as well as media and the public, both globally and nationally, to the continuously large gaps between the required actions, and which policies have been put on the table so far.
What will be discussed at COP27?
Ahead of the meeting, countries were asked to submit ambitious national climate plans. Only 25 have – so far.
COP27 will focus on three main areas:
- Reducing emissions
- Helping countries to prepare and deal with climate change
- Securing technical support and funding for developing countries for these activities
Some areas not fully resolved or covered at COP26 which was held in Scotland last year 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
- Strengthening of the commitments to reduce coal use
There will also be themed days for focused talks and announcements on issues including gender, agriculture and biodiversity.