The U.N. Climate Summit is here, and we’re not on track

The UN Climate Summit (COP27)

The United Nations Climate Summit has occurred every year for the past 27 years in different participating countries. This year the Conference of the Parties (COP27) will be held from November 6 to 18 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. In attendance are “Heads of State, ministers and negotiators, along with climate activists, mayors, civil society representatives and CEOs”. 

Thematic Days include:
– Nov 09: Finance Day
– Nov 10: Science Day
– Nov 10: Youth & Future Generations Day
– Nov 11: Decarbonization Day
– Nov 12: Adaptation & Agriculture Day
– Nov 14: Gender Day
– Nov 14: Water Day
– Nov 15: Ace & Civil Society Day
– Nov 15: Energy Day
– Nov 16: Biodiversity Day
– Nov 17: Solutions Day

During last year’s event (COP26), countries promised to deliver strong commitments and plans to meet the Paris Agreement targets, as well as deliver on pledges made for net-zero commitments, climate finance, forests protection, etc. The objective this year is to address climate mitigation, adaptation and climate finance in order to build on successes, and develop new solutions and ambitions to tackle climate issues.  The aim of organizing the days into themes and with a color code is to highlight the key stakeholders, dedicate time especially to discuss challenges and solutions in Africa, and discuss the role of financial support between countries.

The U.N. Climate Summit is here, and we're not on track
COP27 Climate Action Calendar
Source: COP27 (2022)

We are not on track to meet targets

Despite the countless pledges made by several countries to combat climate change, only 23 countries out of the 193 members of the UN have actually submitted their plans for change this year. These plans and other previous commitments, though they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are unfortunately still criticized by researchers and scientists as being insufficient to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) strongly suggests  limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius by 2100 in order to prevent millions of people from facing the negative impacts of climate change. But with the current estimates, even if countries met the 2030 targets, temperatures would still be above 2 degrees C by 2100. This calls for a need for more aggressive and long term global emission reductions.

While a report from the UN suggests that we need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, current commitments by world leaders will only cut emissions by 5% to 10%. The only way we will be able make these cuts is with aggressive and bold policy shifts to renewable energy. The issue with this is that most countries still rely on fossil fuels and are finding it difficult to change. An increasing number of countries are commiting to make these changes but in practice, there are only a few large scale switches, or phasing out of fossil fuels taking place.

Greta Thunberg, a famous young climate activist known for attending a climate conference and shaming world leaders for their lack of actual climate action, said “The COPs are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing. [The COPs] are not really meant to change the whole system”.

Many agree and many researchers actually expressed after the last summit that, while they were happy to have a written agreement for change, there is no strong commitment to reducing emissions and no agreement for financial support for countries vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Leading climate scientists have called this ‘a bleak moment’ for the world as we grasp the eventualities of this climate crisis. And as many have pointed out, pledges do not equal actions.

Hope for the future

There are still changes happening. Even though the reports are bleak we can still hope and push for change. With the devastating invasion of Ukraine by Russia there has been an acceleration in investment and use of renewable energy due to the triggered global energy crisis. The use of fossil fuels is expected to steadily decline with an increase in the use of renewable energy. However, this needs to be pushed further to see results in the climate.

The U.S, President Biden, and the newly elected former Brazil President, President Silva, can come to the summit with credibility as they have already made changes in favor of climate change action. President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, a significant turn in climate legislation as it promises investment to fight inflation, reduce carbon emissions and promote domestic energy manufacturing and production. President Silva is a massive supporter and campaigner of protecting the Amazon rainforest, and after his win said “Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis”. This is massively important as the Amazon rainforest is a massive carbon sink and houses generations of biodiversity and wildlife.

The U.N. Climate Summit is here, and we're not on track
Amazon Rainforest

To keep up with the discussions during the COP27 visit the UN Climate Conference COP27 News Page.

References

Carrington, D. (2022, October 27). World close to ‘irreversible’ climate breakdown, warn major studies. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/27/world-close-to-irreversible-climate-breakdown-warn-major-studies

COP27. (2022). COP27 Presidency Vision. https://www.cop27.eg/#/presidency/events

Masso, E., & Tollefson, J. (2021, November 14). ‘COP26 hasn’t solved the problem’: scientists react to UN climate deal. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-03431-4

Osaka, S. (2022, October 31). Why Greta Thunberg is shunning the U.N. climate conference this year. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/10/31/why-greta-thunberg-is-shunning-un-climate-conference-this-year/

The Times Editorial Board. (2022, November 1). Editorial: 5 reasons for frustration – and hope – as the world prepares for another U.N. climate summit. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-11-01/editorial-5-reasons-for-frustration-and-hope-as-the-world-prepares-for-another-u-n-climate-summit

United Nations. (2022). COP27. https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/cop27

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (2022). COP27. https://unfccc.int/event/cop-27

United Nations News. (2022, October 28). COP27: What you need to know about this year’s big UN Climate Conference. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/10/1129947

Alicia Advincula
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