The COP27 challenges in Sharm El-Sheik, Egipt
Updated: Oct 25, 2022
In a context of climate emergency, Egypt will become the spotlight for climate action. Environmentalists doubt the host country’s intentions.
From 6-18 November, the COP27 will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Under the slogan Together for Implementation, it is a new opportunity to implement the Paris Agreement.
It is also an opportunity to expose the reality of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite having contributed the least to global warming and having the lowest emissions at only 4%, Africa is among the continents most vulnerable to its impacts. In fact, the 10 most climate-vulnerable countries in the world are African, home to 17.5% of the continent’s population.
The effects of climate change are constantly more present, the Global South countries and the most vulnerable populations experience them every day, which is why it is necessary to put on the discussion table a dialog regarding the consequences, effects, loss, damages, reparations, challenges and possibilities to address the climate crisis.
WHAT SHOULD BE DISCUSSED AT COP27?
One of the main issues is the tension between rich and poor countries over climate finance. The Paris Agreement states that rich countries must help poor countries with resources to reduce their emissions and also adapt to a warmer planet. The most vulnerable nations claim that the mechanisms created so far are insufficient. The goal of transferring US $100 billion per year from 2020 to poor countries, for example, has never been achieved. At the COP in Egypt, a new amount is to be decided on for 2025 and beyond, but the gap between the two parties is still too wide.
Losses and damages
Another point of tension between rich and poor countries is loss and damage. A demand for financial compensation will be proposed for damage already suffered as a result of climate change, such as forced migration or loss of farmland. Developed countries argue that the financial mechanisms for this problem already exist. Indeed, the fear is that formally introducing this discussion into the climate negotiations would open the door to demands for retroactive reparations, since historically the main culprits of CO2 in the atmosphere are developed countries. During COP26, the G77 + China bloc tried to include in the final draft the creation of a specific mechanism to address loss and damage, but the initiative was blocked by the United States and Europe. It is expected that this time the Global South will increase its demands for funding.
CO2 emission reductions
The success or failure of the climate agenda will be measured in the containment of global temperature rise and that depends on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the Paris Agreement, each country must submit its commitments in this regard and review them every five years. Current targets are insufficient to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C and progress in this decade must be crucial. As UN Secretary General Antonio Gutérres has repeatedly pointed out, it is a priority to review these commitments and be more ambitious. Some emerging countries such as China and India point out that the transition to clean energy must not ‘undermine’ economic development.
The carbon market
Consensus was reached at COP26 on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which sets out the broad outlines for a global carbon market. The Egypt COP is expected to make progress on some practical issues, such as the governance rules of this market. We ask: Which entity will be responsible for the ‘accounting’ of credits, what safeguards and technical standards will be required? But there is still a long way to go before the first transactions take place in this market that will operate at the UN level.
10 THEMATIC DAYS PROPOSED BY EGYPT
Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of the Environment, presented the agenda of the COP27 Presidency, which will take place over 10 days at the COP venue. “We call COP27 a COP for Implementation. We, as COP Presidents, want to maintain global ambition for climate action. We want to turn pledges into tangible projects. Furthermore, we must ensure that such aspirations and plans lead to fair and equitable action,” she said.
Adaptation and agriculture
To discuss adaptation-related issues such as agriculture, nutrition, livelihoods and protection in coastal zones, loss and damage, disaster risk reduction and solutions to agricultural and food systems that are vulnerable to droughts and floods.
To address aspects of the financial ecosystem such as innovative and combined finance, financial instruments, policies and instruments with the potential of improving access and expanding funding, and debt-for-environment swaps.
To hold a dialogue on energy and climate change, including renewables and energy conversion, green hydrogen and smart grids.
To address nature and ecosystem-based solutions, the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ways to mobilise global action to halt biodiversity loss and limit the effects of global warming and pollution.
Discussions will also focus on the impacts of climate change on oceans, endangered species and coral reefs, the sustainability of protected areas and the impacts of plastic waste on aquatic ecosystems and species.
Panel discussions will be included to engage with the scientific community and academia and disseminate their views.
Day will bring together representatives from governments, businesses and innovators to share their experiences and ideas with the aim of disseminating best practices and possibly building partnerships and collaborations in the future.
Greenhouse gas reduction
An opportunity to discuss approaches and policies that aim to reduce greenhouse gases and showcase technologies that encourage and facilitate the much-needed transformation to a low-carbon economy.
Water scarcity and drought, transboundary cooperation and improved early warning systems will be discussed. The link between water security and climate change needs to be highlighted and it should be the focus of African and Latin American policy makers and negotiators.
Attention to the role of women and diversities in the face of climate change challenges.
The purpose is to engage young people on top-priority issues with high-level climate action champions to present their success stories and efforts in the fight against climate change.
CIVIL SOCIETY CONCERNS
While the Egyptian government has allocated an area in the Peace Park in Sharm El-Sheikh for activities developed by the country’s private sector and civil society, Egypt is lagging behind in climate action, largely due to the indifference of its senior officials, as is the case in other countries in the region. Local environmentalists believe that, for the first time in a long time, there is an opportunity to connect climate action with broader economic and security priorities in the Middle East and North Africa.
Despite climate and environmental threats, the environmental civil society in Egypt is starved of funding. Moreover, their members are watched by security services, so these organisations have had little chance to contribute meaningfully to decision-making in much of the region. If the MENA environmental community wishes to play a significant role in quelling some of the worst climate consequences, this could be their last chance and, by extension, perhaps that of the region’s residents.
MENA activists and conservationists are well aware of this, and many of them are gearing up for action. They have taken advantage of the COP media coverage to intensify media campaigns and strengthen their profiles, with good results in some places. Their activities are expected to be not only regional but also to include the demands of the Global South.
The civil society plays a key role in the COPs, as they protest and press global negotiators both inside the venue and in the main streets of the cities hosting the conference; however, there is uncertainty about their presence and freedom of action. On the one hand, accommodation is extremely expensive, with fees having risen sharply in recent weeks, and this affects representatives from poorer countries. On the other hand, as Sharm el-Sheikh is a tourist hotspot, it is heavily guarded by police forces and it is feared that these may repel any demonstrations that the government deems dangerous to its image as host. Activists point out that many of the most attractive global climate protests, such as Fridays for Future, will be away from the main meetings. As we go to press, it is known that they are already organising to hold events at various locations in Sharm.
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