Cop27, the next instalment of the global climate change conference, will be held next month in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Led by Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry between 6 and 18 November – with environment minister Yasmine Fouad serving as the event’s ministerial coordinator and envoy – the summit will follow last year’s gathering in Glasgow.
It will once more unite world leaders, climate organisations and activists to thrash out the big questions about safeguarding the future of our planet.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming conference:
What is Cop27?
Cop stands for conference of the parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year is the 27th annual meeting.
The 197 signatories, or “parties”, to the UNFCCC will all be represented in Sharm El Sheikh, along with tens of thousands of negotiators, government officials, businesses and activists, all hoping to make their voices heard and see a comprehensive plan drawn up to realise the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and avert the global climate catastrophe our planet faces.
What is the UNFCCC?
The UNFCCC was first signed at the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by 154 nations and was intended as a treaty to rein in “dangerous human interference with the climate system”, primarily by stabilising the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, whose unchecked dispersion drives global heating.
The framework called for ongoing collaboration on scientific research and regular meetings, negotiations and policy agreements between world governments to ensure fragile ecosystems were not unduly damaged by climate change, that the global food supply remained unimpeded and that economic development was allowed to proceed sustainably.
What is the Kyoto Protocol?
The first significant agreement between parties to the treaty was the Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in the Japanese city in December 1997 and set strict emission reduction targets on six gases for 37 industrialised nations and the European Union, but not the US or other major carbon-emitting superpowers like China and India.
Following ratification by Russia and Canada, the protocol came into effect in February 2005 and aimed to reduce harmful emissions in participating countries by five per cent from 1990 levels in phase one (2008-12) and by an ambitious 18 per cent in phase two (2013-20), an extension agreed in December 2012 and known as the Doha Amendment.
While events like the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the global financial crisis of 2007-08 did help to bring down rates of industrial pollution, a UN Environmental Programme report published at the end of phase one in 2012 found that emissions had nevertheless boomed by 32 per cent between 1990 and 2010 despite the recent efforts of the protocol’s participants. It again highlighted the scale of the task and the need to swap fossil fuel dependence for more renewable sources of energy before the damage becomes irreversible.
What is the Paris Agreement?
The more wide-ranging Paris Agreement, drafted in December 2015, signed in April 2016 and intended as a successor to Kyoto, applied to all 195 signatories and not just the more developed nations, obliging everyone to do their part to keep the global temperature rise well below 2C by the century’s end and for all nations to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.
This time the US was on board, until, that is, Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama and withdrew from the agreement, only for the Republican to lose the White House after just one disastrous term and be replaced by Democrat Joe Biden, who swiftly rejoined on his first day in the Oval Office.
Countries signed up to the Paris accord are committed to nationally-determined contributions, individual emissions reduction targets tailored to their particular circumstances that are reviewed and reassessed every five years.
Why does Cop27 matter?
Cop27 is seeking to firm up those commitments made in the French capital and those agreed subsequently relating to net zero carbon emissions, state financial commitments, working conditions and protecting communities and natural habitats on the frontline of extreme weather events caused by global heating.
“At Cop27, countries come together to take action towards achieving the world’s collective climate goals as agreed under the Paris Agreement and the Convention,” the event states on its official website.
“Building on the outcomes and momentum of Cop26 in Glasgow last year, nations are expected to demonstrate at Cop27 that they are in a new era of implementation by turning their commitments under the Paris Agreement into action.”
Natural disasters have been all too evident across North American, Europe and Asia this summer, with periods of drought, intense heat, hurricanes and flash flooding all bringing destruction and devastation to communities not prepared to withstand them, placing renewed emphasis on the need for global unity and bold action.