In October 2022, just ahead of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27), which will be hosted by the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt from November 6 to November 18, the United Nations released its Emissions Gap Report1 for 2022. The report shows that even after taking Glasgow commitments into account, global temperatures are expected to rise by 2.8° C by the end of the century. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022, climate action failure ranks as the most severe risk facing the world over the next decade (Figure 1).2
Therefore, stakes are high for the 35,000 delegates expected to be in attendance including US President Joseph Biden and more than 100 heads of state. The global community will be watching closely to see if COP27 can help drive implementation and action from countries committed to the Paris Agreement and to targets set at COP26 (see Post COP26: Outcomes and Opportunities).
Figure 1: Climate Action Pegged as Top Global Risk, per WEF (Risks in Order of Severity)
Given the growing calls to action, the to-do list for participating countries is long and important. We outline several of the key areas of potential focus during the two-week conference:
Decarbonization and a Just Transition
COP27 will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. As host nation, Egypt has defined the summit’s four key goals as mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration:3
Mitigation: Working in unity to limit global warming to well below 2.0⁰C, which will require bold actions from all parties. Using the conference as a moment for countries to fulfil their promises to deliver the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Adaptation: Ensuring that delegates make the “crucially needed progress” and demonstrate resolve towards enhancing resilience and assisting the most vulnerable communities.
Finance: Ensuring that climate finance is adequate, predictable, and meets the needs of developing countries. Specifically, progressing on delivery of US$100 billion annually to build more trust between developed and developing countries.
Collaboration: Enhancing and facilitating agreements, which will require active participation from all stakeholders, especially communities from countries “in the African region who are increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change.”
As chair of the G77 group of developing nations, Pakistan is expected to be vocal on the issue of who should pay for climate-related disasters. The country experienced the worst natural disaster in its history this year, as heavy rains and flash flooding displaced 33 million people, destroyed 1.7 million homes, and took the lives of nearly 1,500 citizens.4 Climate change may have increased the rainfall intensity by up to 50%, according to the World Weather Attribution group.5 In recent years, countries such as Haiti and the Philippines have also experienced weather patterns that have devastated their lands and citizens’ livelihood.
At the same time, these nations contribute relatively small amounts to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions versus larger emitters, such as China (Figure 2). For example, Pakistan’s total CO2 emissions for 2021 ranks 28th globally.6 On a per capita basis, Pakistan ranks even lower at 152nd. Similar trends play out in Haiti, Myanmar, Philippines, and Puerto Rico; five countries that have been most affected by climate change in the 21st century.7
Figure 2: The Lowest-Emission Countries Bear Significant Costs
Given the impact of climate change on global food supplies and its disproportionate effects on developing countries, the scarcity of food is expected to be a major topic of discussion at COP27. Many nations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are expected to experience a population boom over the next few decades. However, only three percent of public climate finance goes towards food systems.8 This is true even though food insecurity is one of the most inequitable facets of society, as over 820 million people face food shortages and three billion people lack access to a healthy and nutritious diet.9
However, it is undeniable that the global food system is a large contributor to global GHG emissions and is the primary driver for biodiversity loss.10 Squaring the need to feed its citizens while also mitigating the impact of climate change will be a key challenge for countries, particularly those that are experiencing significant population growth. Accordingly, for the first time, there will be a dedicated Food Systems Pavilion at the conference to tackle these thorny issues.
We look forward to sharing takeaways from COP27 in a few weeks.
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