What is COP 27: UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (UNFCCC COP 27)
COP 27, the much-awaited climate conference, will be kicked off in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt on 7th November. It has created quite a buzz through the last few months, as activists, environmentalists and even businesses are eager and nervous to learn about what’s in store. In case you’re still wondering what the conference entails, here’s a quick guide to run you through the details.
Let’s start with important details you would like to know about COP 27 before we answer the widely searched question, “What is COP 27?”
1. When is COP 27 : 7-18 November 2022
2. Where is COP 27 being held: Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt
3. What does COP 27 stand for : Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP27)
Climate change is quite complicated, and as you might know, with detailed discussions on the 1.5-degree pathways, strategies to deal with climate change and carbon disposal. For almost three decades, the world government met nearly every year to strategise a global and collective response to the climate emergency.
COP stands for Conference of the parties under the UNFCCC and annual meetings focusing on Climate Change. In this strategic meeting, the governments meet once a year and negotiate to create a coordinated global response to climate change, which is quite effective and collaborative.
What is COP 27?
COP, also known as the ‘Conference of the Parties’ is the UN’s annual climate change conference which started in the year 1995, shortly following the formation of the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) in 1994. All signatories of the UNFCCC come together to discuss, negotiate and strike deals to tackle the imminent global warming crisis. Essentially, COP negotiations are centred on the legal mechanisms for governments to hold each other accountable. This year, the 12-day conference is being hosted by Egypt.
What is the agenda for COP 27
We seek to accelerate global climate action through emissions reduction, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced flows of appropriate finance. We recognize that ‘just transition’ remains a priority for developing countries worldwide.
What happened at COP 26?
The agenda for the COP was to find ways to achieve net-zero emissions, globally. And this conference saw a lot of deals made and promises reiterated. Some of the highlights were as follows:
More than 100 countries signed a pledge to cut 30% of their methane emissions by 2030 — one of the most powerful greenhouse gasses, currently responsible for one-third of human-generated warming, with its source primarily being cattle production and waste disposal. If countries follow through, it has the potential to reduce global temperatures by 0.2°C in the coming decades. Critics on the other hand say this is a balancing measure, rather than a strong incentive to reduce warming.
Further, more than 130 countries promised to end deforestation by 2030 to preserve carbon-rich foreign sinks and biodiversity hotspots.
But the most striking points were made on the use of coal, as it is one of the largest polluters of the environment. In the 2015 Paris Conference, it was agreed that global emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 to curb climate change. And coal makes up almost 40% of annual CO2 emissions. Under the Glasgow Pact, explicit plans ask countries to press for urgent emission cuts and to set up financial banks to help developing countries achieve carbon neutrality as well. Although, the pledges so far do not seem promising enough to maintain the 1.5°C limits.
40 countries, excluding the U.S., China, and India, vowed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal. Further, 450 financial organisations agreed to shift to clean technology (including renewable energy) in efforts to remove funding from fossil fuels.
However, no clear protocols or monitoring systems are set to reach these goals. There’s also no clear definition for what net-zero emissions mean. But, if these long-term targets are followed as pledged, global temperature rise can be held to 1.8℃, according to independent analysts from the Climate Action Tracker (CAT) organization.
What usually is discussed at COP?
It discusses certain partnerships – like the Paris Agreement – that focuses on,
- They are reducing greenhouse gases and achieving net-zero targets in the second half of the century.
- Urges the developed countries to support the developing countries with funds starting from $100bn every year, from 2020.
- Nations need to revise their goals to cut down carbon by 2020 for the year 2030.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NBCs) – Here, people can choose the strategy and pledge. The progress will be assessed every five years from 2023.
Why is COP 27 important?
The motive is quite clear – To reduce the emissions by 2030 and have an excellent opportunity to control global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. COP 27 is the stage where the leader can put forth their climate pledge and have a collective approach towards climate change.
This meeting would help nations to revise Paris Agreement, and communicate long-term strategies (LTSs) to achieve zero emissions. The negotiators at COP 27 can conclude the countries leading and those lagging behind their pledges in the Paris Agreement.
It holds significance as we all know that NDCs are inadequate. This ratchet mechanism strives to keep nations accountable by bringing them to the table every five years with new commitments that urge NDC to revise their plans and lower the Paris goals into more achievable goals.
Beginner’s glossary list to COP 27
Every industry includes many acronyms and buzzwords that can be pretty difficult to interpret and understand. Let’s look into the COP 27 glossary of the most frequently used terms that you might come across.
It is the 27th conference of the nations and other parties. It aims to bring world leaders to the table, with the sole purpose of reducing carbon emissions to safe levels and controlling global warming temperatures. COPs helped to frame the Kyoto Protocol, the concept of the 2-degree warming limit and the famous Paris Agreement.
Paris Agreement is the agreement made between the world’s countries at COP 21. They unitedly agreed to limit the global warming temperature to 2 degrees Celsius, addition to pre-industrial levels, intending to keep it at 1.5 degrees Celcius as much as possible.
Theoretically, ‘Pre-industrial levels mean any period before the start of the industrial revolution. According to the IPCC, the pre-industrial period is referred to the time between 1850-1900 to calculate the global warming temperature rise.
1.5° C pathway
The strategic plan aims to consistently maintain the warming temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celcius above preindustrial levels by 2100. Climate researchers have stated that this would be the maximum safe level rise in temperature. Every sector and industry is factored to consistently follow this pathway.
Human activity has significantly impacted the climate and the environment, which is technically coined as the Anthropocene. Starting from the mid-20th century, human activities have transformed how the Earth system works by rapidly increasing carbon emissions.
The number of greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere has a significant impact on the temperature rise. The carbon budgets are a methodology to calculate and limit these emissions to maintain the 1.5° C limit. It is associated with carbon permits and restrictions that help to keep accountability and transparency with the claims.
Increase in global warming temperatures beyond this threshold compared to pre-industrial levels is considered the worst worldwide warming and climate change impact.
It is an agreement between 192 countries to limit and reduce carbon emissions based on individual company targets. It was the first ever globally binding target that was signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the term for international, environmental treaty that aims to reduce human interference with climate change and biodiversity. It was signed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.
Climate Change Mitigation
The concept of mitigation focuses on avoiding the effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions and global warming consequently.
Since mitigation is Plan A for all the nations, failure to imply altogether the same is also a possibility. As far as the effects of climate change are concerned, purely mitigation might not help create an immediate impact. In practice, it is recommended to adopt mitigation and adoption together to make the best progress.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Reducing carbon emissions begins by capturing the emissions from industrial activity. It is a concept that talks about trapping carbon emissions and storing them deep in the ground.
It is a measure used by developing countries to raise the issue of global warming. It measures CO2 that is released on par with the economic output.
Under this concept, the government can set a price on the emitters that need to pay off about each ton of greenhouse gas emitted.
Unlike a carbon tax, it is a market-based initiative that aims to meet carbon reduction targets and reduce greenhouse emissions, measuring it in terms of emission permits. The lower credits mean lower costs, which means that the companies can enjoy more profit.
The point of balance of GHGs being removed from our temperature to control climate change. This balancing should also reduce the emissions and not just by planting more trees to create carbon sinks.
It attempts to compensate CO2 emissions by funding efforts to reduce or remove the equivalent amount of carbon released.
In simple terms, it is the consequence of global warming. Global warming adds more heat to the planet which is usually cooled down by the oceans. But with the changing weather patterns, warming has had a significant effect on these weather patterns, fueling climate change worldwide.