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In the News: COP27

A quick rundown on the most important climate-related event of 2022.

Anyone with an eye on their newsfeeds will see a particular topic getting a fair deal of exposure over the next week or so: COP27.

Most will know that it’s a climate-related conference involving various countries, with many heads of state, environmental authorities, and the occassional celebrity in attendance. But beyond that, many are unaware of the broader issues that attract focus at the event.

Here’s your 5-minute debrief on the year’s biggest climate-related social occasion.

What exactly is COP27?

COP27 is a colloquial term for The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The COP part is derived from its alternative name, Conference of the Parties, and the 27 alludes to it being the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference since the first one was held in 1995 in Berlin.

Where is it being held?

Held in a different location annually, this year’s event is being held in the Egyptian city of Sharm El Sheikh, on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.

How long is it happening for?

COP27 will be dominating your news headlines from 6 November until 18 November 2022 (and maybe even for some time after that).

Will all the world’s nations be there?

Not quite. Although representatives from some of the world’s largest economies such as the USA (Joe Biden), France (Emmanuel Macron), Germany (Olaf Scholz), and the UK (Rishi Sunak) will all be in attendance, China’s President Xi Jinping will not be attending, although China still has a representative at the conference via its climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not expected to attend, nor are Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In all, around 90 heads of state and representatives from more than 190 countries are expected to attend.

Any particular issues under the microscope this year?

Climate justice and finance is expected to be a hot topic this year. You’ll be hearing lots about ‘loss and damage’, a term which the United Nations uses to refer to compensation from rich nations culpable for the majority of climate change effects, to vulnerable nations that are being hit hardest by climate change yet contributed the least to causing the problems we’re seeing today. Rich countries have so far failed to live up to earlier promises to provide $100-billion of climate finance annually, so discussions may prove to be lively around this issue.

There will also be a focus on coal transition partnerships and financing. An $8.5-billion funding package for South Africa was announced at last year’s COP26 event in Glasgow in an attempt to transition the country from coal-based power generation to renewable energy. Similar types of initiatives could be in the works with Indonesia, Vietnam, Senegal, and India.

Any words of warning about the climate emergency from high profile delegates so far?

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres told world leaders at the opening of the Cop27 UN climate summit in Egypt on Monday that “We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing.” He added that “Humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish” and also said that “We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

Al Gore referenced our current “culture of death that surrounds our addiction to fossil fuels” in a passionate address to attendees.

Remind me of our collective climate targets again?

A United Nations Environment Programme report issued shortly before the conference found that the world is on track to warm 2.6C by 2100. If countries only rely on climate policies that have already been enacted, the report says the world will warm 2.8C by the end of the century, well beyond the Paris Agreement’s goal of below 2C, and preferably 1.5C.