Climate change
Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment Image Credit: Adam/Gulf News

The 27th session of the Climate Conference, or what is officially called the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UNFCC, will take place in Sharm Al Shaikh, Egypt, from Nov. 7-18, 2022.

Europe, which always remains at the forefront of climate talks, is excessively occupied with the war in Ukraine, and the issue of global warming has been pushed down on its priority list.

Not only that, several European countries have also forgotten their commitment to decarbonising and improving energy efficiency. Instead, they have moved to new fossil fuel-based power production to improve energy security.

COP26 in Glasgow last year resulted in a somewhat disappointing Glasgow Climate Pact, where countries agreed to a watered-down text in committing themselves to end inefficient subsidies on fossil fuel and phase down the use of coal.

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Though the UK continues to preside over the COP till it hands over the baton to Egypt at Sharm Al Shaikh, its new Prime Minister has decided not to attend COP27. Moreover, the COP26 president has also lost his cabinet post in the new Prime Minister’s cabinet.

The world looks more divided than ever before. No talk is taking place among major global powers to find common ground on the climate issue. Russian President Vladimir Putin, busy with the Ukrainian issue, is not going to attend COP27.

US President Joe Biden is yet to confirm his presence at Sharm Al Shaikh. The possibility of the Chinese President attending COP27 is also uncertain, and he had also not participated in COP26 in Glasgow last year.

China is the world’s biggest greenhouse emitter and a superpower. A successful global strategy against climate change without active cooperation between China and the US is impossible.

COP26 in Glasgow last year resulted in a somewhat disappointing Glasgow Climate Pact

Unfortunately, the relationship between these two countries has become highly conflictual in recent years, and there is very little engagement between them to agree on a joint climate strategy.

Although both countries declared to cooperate at Glasgow, the China-US Climate Working Group has been suspended. Many of their planned bilateral meetings on climate issues like methane, forestry, clean energy, and city-level climate actions have also been cancelled.

Not only have the countries and political leaders failed to prioritise the climate issue, but the climate movements that had taken great momentum in recent years worldwide. Several companies have adopted high-profile greenwashing strategies, pretending to be environmentally conscious.

The worries about the lingering pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, and the economic recession have also not helped the climate activists and their supporters.

In Sweden, a successful laboratory for grass roots environmental activism, the recent election was fought in which climate change was not even an important issue to discuss or debate.

When the people in Europe are particularly worried over an imminent nuclear war or how to face the winter without enough energy supply, the threat of climate catastrophe has taken backstage.

New threats, particularly the Ukraine War, have taken centre stage, but that has not anyway diminished the severity of the survival crisis the planet is facing due to global warming.

A new report prepared by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change for COP27 says even if countries meet their climate targets agreed upon under the Paris Agreement, the planet may warm up by an average of 2.1 to 2.9 degrees C by the end of this century.

The Paris Agreement had kept the goal to limit it to 1.5C. The greenhouse gas emissions must come down by 45 per cent by 2030, compared with 2010 levels and reach net zero by 2050 to achieve that target.

Countries have made some progress, but they must do much more for the planet to survive. Global carbon emission has continued to increase since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Extreme weather events worldwide show that the climate crisis is real. In 2021, the global average temperature was already 1.1 degrees C above the pre-industrial level.

A 0.5 degree C further increase is even highly significant. While 37 per cent of the global population is likely to face extreme heatwaves under a 2-degree C scenario, under 1.5 degrees C, it will be 14 per cent of the global population.

The present global political situation does not look hopeful to be too optimistic about the outcome of COP27. Still, the world can’t defer its actions due to the magnitude and enormity of the challenges of climate crises.

Sharm el sheikh
COP27 at Sharm Al Shaikh is hosted by the government of Egypt Image Credit: Supplied

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs and president-designate of the COP27, rightly points out, “This is a sobering moment, and we are in a race against time.”

The climate crisis demands a transformative response from the negotiators of the world’s powerful countries.

When they meet in the beautiful resort town of Sharm Al Shaikh for COP27, the planet needs them to adopt a collective approach to save it from irreversible climate breakdown.