Copy of 404229-01-02-1667666293719
Participants visit the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre in Egypt's Red Sea resort city on November 5, 2022, on the eve of the COP27 climate summit. Image Credit: AFP

Sharm Al Sheikh: COP27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, hosted by Egypt in Sharm Al Sheikh, will see delegates from around the world participate in the annual negotiations. With over 40,000 estimated attendees, the summit is expected to host one of the largest number of participants in the annual global climate conference, which runs from November 6 to 18 in Sharm Al Sheikh, Egypt. Here’s what to know:

What is COP?

It stands for Conference of the Parties. Since 1995, world leaders and their delegates have convened annually to discuss the critical issue of global warming, carbon emissions and how to tackle climate change.

This year’s meeting marks the 27th gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - or COP27 for short.

The international forum also attracts environmental groups, scientists, business leaders, celebrities and journalists - and protesters demanding that governments speed up and act on their pledges.

Where is COP27 this year?

The conference will take place in the Egyptian coastal resort city of Sharm Al Sheikh from November 6 to November 18.

Read more

Since Berlin hosted the first summit almost three decades ago, the location has rotated among five UN regional groupings: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and Others.

This year’s location has prompted calls for the conference to focus on African countries, which are some of the most vulnerable to climate change despite being among the lowest emitters.

Why is COP important?

The high-profile summit is an opportunity to get world leaders in the same space to discuss protecting the planet. Themes include biodiversity, water, gender and transport.

Climate change has risen up political agendas as floods, drought, wildfires and extremes weather hurt millions of people, homes, and economies across the globe.

Copy of Egypt_COP27_Climate_Summit_57593.jpg-6e154-1667666305217
Garbage collectors wearing uniforms with "Green Planet" written on it, pass the old market around the Al Sahaba mosque, rear, in Sharm Al Sheikh on November 5, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Under a 2015 Paris accord, countries agreed to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with preindustrial levels and, more ambitiously if possible, to stop at 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

But a UN report last month warned the world could be on track for a 2.5 degree Celsius (4.5 degree Fahrenheit) rise in global temperatures by the end of the century.

The UN has cast COP27 as a critical platform to catch up as “the work ahead is immense.”

Who will and won’t attend COP27 in Egypt?

According to its organisers in Egypt, about 100 heads of state and government will travel to the Red Sea resort.

President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley are among those planning to attend. Notable absences include Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping, although Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua is expected to participate.

Copy of 404221-01-02-1667666300270
Participants visit the Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Centre on November 5, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made headlines when he said he would stay away from COP27 to focus on pressing domestic challenges. He has since made a U-turn and confirmed he will attend, while Britain’s King Charles III will be missing the event despite his previous work as an environmental advocate. British monarchs are expected to stay out of politics, and Buckingham Palace said he will not be there based on government advice.

Another noticeable absentee this year is Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, who denounced this year’s event as a forum for “greenwashing” by corporations and countries, with “extremely limited” space for civil society. “As it is, the COPs are not really working,” she said, “unless we use them as an opportunity to mobilise.” Thunberg became a household name after energizing students to walk out of school on Fridays to protest the climate emergency.

What is expected at COP27?

Governments are expected to evaluate progress on climate pledges centered around cutting emissions, phasing out fossil fuels, ramping up renewable energy use and ensuring that richer countries support poorer nations bearing the brunt of climate change.

In a significant step at last year’s COP, world leaders acknowledged that progress had been slow, agreeing to “revisit and strengthen” their national climate targets if possible. But as they prepare to reconvene, almost none of the globe’s biggest emitters have made stronger commitments, The Washington Post has reported.

Can I watch or get involved with COP27 where I live?

No matter where you are, you can tune into public debates and forums at COP27 online, with live streams, blogs and virtual events on the official website here. Much of the decision-making and political wrangling, however, remains behind closed doors.

The UN is also running a campaign promoting “individual actions” to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint, for example by recycling, taking public transport and changing their energy use. Nonprofits and charities will share their impressions of the conference on social media and call for public involvement to raise pressure on world leaders to meet climate goals.