We are on the brink of a climate catastrophe. With this in mind, stakeholders and leaders worldwide are on a mission to devise strategies and plans to minimize the impact of climate on health, the environment, and communities alike. For this reason, diplomats have gathered in Egypt for the 27th annual United Nations climate talks.
In this blog, we will highlight what COP27 is and why it is imperative to be informed about the conference. This blog will also give a brief overview of the significant events of the conference.
Conference of the Parties (COP) is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is a series of events with delegates from all over the world gathered for two weeks of climate negotiations. It is being held from 6 November until 18 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
As nations struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions amid a global energy crisis, the war in Europe, and rising inflation, diplomats from 197 countries have attended this conference to discuss steps to limit global temperature rises.
COP26 was held in Glasgow in 2021, producing the Glasgow Pact, an agreement among nearly 200 nations. COP26 requested nations to "revisit and strengthen" their emissions targets by the end of 2022 and bring them in line to constrain global temperature rise to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
COP26 was somewhat helpful in bringing nations together to make plans to solve a global crisis. The event's outcome was that about 100 nations agreed to reduce methane emissions by 30% this decade. Another 130 countries also vowed to mitigate deforestation by 2030, while dozens of other countries pledged to phase out their coal plants and sales of gasoline-powered vehicles.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius and are heading towards 1.5 degrees Celsius. If temperatures rise 1.7 to 1.8 degrees Celsius, it is estimated that half the world's population could be exposed to life-threatening, catastrophic events like deadly heat waves, water shortages, crop failures, and ecosystem collapse.
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, told countries gathered at the start of the COP27:
"Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator."
This brings forward the stage we are at with regard to mitigating climate change.
194 countries signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, with a pledge to put efforts into limiting global temperature rises, and in COP27, nations have got together to focus on the following:
The conference opened with the 2022 State Of The Global Climate report by the World Meteorological Organization, which stated that the last eight years were the warmest years on record due to the massive rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. The report outlines the increasingly alarming signs of the climate catastrophe, which include a doubling of sea level rise since 1993 and indications of unprecedented melting of glaciers in the Alps.
Following the report was an update by the delegation of developing nations who succeeded in placing the issue of loss and damage on as the agenda of the United Nations climate change conference. At COP26, only Scotland committed $2.2 million for "loss and damage" when it hosted last year's UN climate summit. However, this time, various other nations seem to be involved in this issue. Countries like Austria, Ireland, and France have already joined hands to help developing countries struggling with climate impacts.
Some African leaders emphasized in their pledges that their nations could not afford the cost of adapting to climate change or reducing the disasters it fuels. The nation of Botswana stated that they are facing major water scarcity, endangering the world's largest elephant population, increasing their food crisis, and harming their tourism industry. Other African nations reminded the leaders of developed nations that their pledge in the Paris Agreement of $100 billion of annual support is falling short. Most African countries promised to reduce emissions depending on the funding they receive
On the other hand, India surprised some nations by pleading for a deal to phase down all fossil fuels rather than just coal. This decision will undoubtedly put oil and gas consumers and producers in the highlight while easing the focus on nations that rely heavily on burning coal for energy.
In terms of businesses (this is a direction Ambee is thinking greatly about), most companies are now under pressure to disclose their carbon footprint—emissions from employees' air travel and emissions produced by their products. Indian firms are also in a tight spot, with the Securities and Exchange Board of India making it mandatory for the top 1,000 listed firms to file a "Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report."
When it comes to the US, President Biden, in his address at the conference, said, "We're not ignoring harbingers that are already here. So many disasters—the climate crisis is hitting hardest those countries and communities that have the fewest resources to respond and to recover." Biden promised that the US would achieve its climate commitments and said it would share its climate progress with the world. He allocated $369 billion to help other countries with the mitigation of climate change impacts.
In partnership with the United States, Mexico also announced its commitment to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and achieve net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.
While there was an early breakthrough in the conference that put the issue of compensating poorer countries for the impact of climate change on the agenda for the first time, the rest of the discussions has been received with scrutiny. Delegates have criticized each other over issues like climate reparations, funding for mitigation, and adaptation in poorer countries.
Amidst protests from climate activists and scrutiny from fellow attendees, COP27 still has a few days to go. Diplomats from attending nations will carry on their negotiations with the hope that the remaining days of the conference will bring out concrete results that will guide nations out of the climate crisis.
As an environmental and climate intelligence organization, we have been helping businesses and organizations around the world with data necessary for sustainability. COP27, for us, means a forum that talks about the issues we have been trying to help organizations solve for the past five years. This COP27, our climate data has made it to the conference.
Our teammate, Maya Anandan, presented our climate data to the world at the Climate Action Stage. She spoke about our work in climate data and zeroing in on hyperlocal emissions hotspots, which were previously thought impossible. \
Here are some of the highlights of the event: