01 November 2022

COP27, explained

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In this short article you will find the answer to the most frequently asked questions. 

COP27, explained

UN Climate Change Conference, explained

United Nations Climate Conference (COP27), explained

The environmental crisis knows no borders: the rise of the global temperature or the extreme weather events affect us all, irrespective of which country we live in. In order to tackle this challenge, the international community needs to act as one. 

You probably heard about COP27 on the news, but what is it? And why is it so important? In this short article you will find the answer to the most frequently asked questions. 

What is the Conference of the Parties (COP27)?

The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) is the forum in which our governments reach agreements on how to make our planet greener and more sustainable. It is based on an international treaty (the climate change “convention”) which has been signed by 193 states and the European Union. These countries represent over 98% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This is then called the “Conference of the Parties (COP)”, which is the “supreme body”, that is, the highest decision-making authority and responsible for keeping international efforts to address climate change on track.

the COP in 2022: where and when does it take place?

The COP is hosted once a year in a different country. The official negotiations take place over two weeks.

The first week is primarily technical negotiations by government officials, whereas the second week is dominated by the high level Ministerial and Heads of State meetings. The most challenging issues of the negotiations go to the Ministers to make the final negotiated decisions.

In 2022, we have the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) which is being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to November 18. 

So this year we are having an African COP Presidency. The COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized regions by the United Nations - that is, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others – there is a tendency for the venue of the COP to also shift among these groups.

Who attends COP?

There are three categories of participants at meetings and conferences in the

UNFCCC process:

1.Representatives of Parties to the Convention and Observer States

2.Members of the press and media

3.Representatives of observer organisations; Observer organisations are further categorised into three types: the United Nations System and its Specialized Agencies, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Why is COP important? 

Climate change knows no borders. The solutions to address the climate crisis need to be global. The extreme weather events of 2022 have made the impacts of the climate crisis real and palpable - forcing a shift from looking at climate change as something in the future to something where solutions are needed today. The COP is an opportunity for citizens, civil society, the media and others to pressure governments and build solidarity in the fight against climate change and injustice.

What is on the table for COP27?

The Egyptian Presidency has set 4 goals:

- Mitigation: implementation of the Glasgow Pact, reviewed ambition on the Nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

- Adaptation: progress on the Global Goal on Adaptation, adaptation at the forefront of global action

- Finance: follow-up on the existing commitments and pledges, especially on the commitment by developed countries to a collective goal of mobilising USD 100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation. 

- Collaboration: between governments, the private sector and civil society.

The overall agenda for COP27 will be broad. Each day will have a different theme – from biodiversity to water, age to gender. 


What is expected from COP27?

This year's meeting follows up on COP26, which took place late last year in Glasgow, where nations failed to take the steps needed to tackle the climate crisis. Turning pledges to implementation plans is a high priority for COP27, but there will also be a strong emphasis on finance and adaptation – a change from the previous focus on mitigation (i.e. reducing emissions to limit climate change). 

As part of the focus on finance and adaptation, a key theme is set to be on the formal agenda at COP27: “loss and damage”, which means compensation for economic losses due to climate catastrophes. 

Since this is an African COP - the first after six years - it is expected that low-income countries will strongly argue they are disproportionately affected by extreme weather phenomena, such as devastating floods and longer-than-usual droughts, even though their release of greenhouse gas emissions has been negligible compared to that of developed nations. Loss and damage funds from developed countries are therefore crucial for climate justice.

The European Union at the COP27

At the COP27 climate negotiations, the European Union (EU) will work for further ambition and action in this critical decade, including through:

-adoption of a Mitigation Work Programme and work on ending inefficient fossil fuel subsidies

-phasing down coal

-reducing methane emissions

-aligning targets with the 1.5°C goal.

The EU is determined to work with all the countries to:

- Foster the discussion on the future of UNFCCC, an international environmental treaty to combat "dangerous human interference with the climate system”.

- Discuss ways forward to implement climate action in the agricultural sector sustainably

- Enable the ambitious implementation of the Glasgow Work Programme on Action for Climate Empowerment

- Address the gender dimension.

For more details, the Council’s position for the COP27 can be found here


What's the role of citizens and civil society?

Both grassroots and high-level action against climate change is needed! Only individual and corporate efforts together can make a difference. 

We all have a role to play and responsibility in making a difference in the fight against climate change. That is why the active push and involvement from citizens, grassroots organisations to pressure, challenge and advocate leaders and governments for higher ambition is vital.

Learn more on how you can take part in a community of Europeans actively participating for the implementation of the European Green Deal here

For more daily news on COP27, first hand from the delegations in Egypt and how you can take part, follow our REAL DEAL partners on social media:

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