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Cop27 climate talks in Egypt are set to get heated

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Egypt's resort town of Sharm El Sheikh is likely to be the scene of stormy debates at Cop27
  • Climate summit faces the challenges of energy crisis and war in Ukraine
  • $100bn a year target to help poor countries cut emissions not yet met
  • Host nation urges countries to ‘put political differences aside’

The Cop27 climate talks, which begin on Sunday in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt on behalf of Africa face the challenges of an energy crisis and the war in Ukraine.

These impactful events have dramatically changed the geopolitical context of Cop since Cop26 was held in the UK city of Glasgow last year.

A key question expected to dominate the conference is whether the World Bank, the IMF and other global financial institutions built after the second world war are willing, or even capable, of tackling this rising threat to the security of nations. 

As host country, Egypt’s job is to rally other nations in the run-up to and during the conference, to ratchet up their climate action. Egypt must also try to build consensus so that all countries can reach an agreement in the end.

Also, Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation plans to sign contracts at the summit for projects with investments worth $15 billion in water, food and energy programmes – moving from the pledges stage to the implementation stage.

Every year almost 200 countries meet to discuss how to jointly tackle the climate crisis and its impacts. 

France hosted the 2015 talks, which yielded the historic Paris Agreement, under which countries agreed the need to limit global warming to below 2°C.

Cop stands for Conference of the Parties, referring to governments that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

About 90 heads of state have confirmed so far, including US President Joe Biden.

A success of Cop26 was countries agreeing on the more ambitious target of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5°C, rather than the much more dangerous 2°C limit.

But current policies put the world on course for around 2.4°C warming, with every fraction of a degree fuelling worse impacts.

As the world remains off-track to meet its targets, Egypt wants to make Cop27 all about implementing climate policies, but fears geopolitical tensions will distract leaders.

Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, Egypt’s Cop27 special representative, acknowledged the “complicating factors” that could hinder this year’s summit.

He urged countries to “put political differences aside” and “expedite” rather than slow down the transition to green power.

Person, Human, Crowd
Wael Aboulmagd, Egypt’s Cop27 special representative, has acknowledged the ‘complicating factors’ surrounding this year’s talks. Picture: Reuters

Meanwhile, scores of countries have been pummelled by devastating floods, wildfires and droughts, super-charged by climate change.

While the gas squeeze has accelerated plans to shift to clean power in the EU and beyond, some countries are also expanding fossil fuel production or firing up old coal plants.

“We can see that the [climate] devastation is enormous and that we have huge gaps when it comes to emissions reduction, adapting to climate change and of course, the finance gap which everyone is aware of,” Aboulmagd told reporters.

Broken promises on cash could also continue to plague the negotiations. A target set in 2009 by rich countries to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 to poor countries to help them cut their emissions and adapt to climate change has also still not yet been met, to the anger of developing nations.

Rich countries fear that paying compensation for loss and damage, such as Pakistan’s devastating floods, would open the doors to future claims, not just for climate impacts, but things like who should eventually pay for the damage in Ukraine.

Cop talks rely on international goodwill, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has fractured geopolitical relations and distracted from climate action at key diplomatic meetings like the Group of 20 (G20) major economies and the United Nations General Assembly. 

Talks and events at Cop27 

  • Wednesday 9 – Finance
  • Thursday 10 – Science and youth day
  • Friday 11 – Decarbonisation
  • Saturday 12 – Adaptation and agriculture
  • Monday 14 – Gender and water
  • Tuesday 15 – Civil society and energy
  • Wednesday 16 – Biodiversity
  • Thursday 17 – Solutions

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