On the 6th November 2022, COP27 will be commencing in Sharm-El-Sheik, Egypt. Once again our attention will be brought firmly back to the climate issues currently facing the world, and ultimately the overall need to limit temperature rises as much as possible. After a turbulent year following the last COP, climate progress has been somewhat mixed. However, will COP27 mark the turning point in the road to decarbonisation? In this article, the Institute will explore the aims of this year’s conference, the controversies that may stand in the way of progress, and what is at stake if the conference fails to unite global leaders on the topic of climate change.
What is COP27?
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is an event bringing world leaders together to focus specifically on the climate crisis. Officials from 197 nations across the globe will convene to discuss climate issues and attempt to agree on how to best tackle them.
2022 marks the 27th Conference of the Parties; COP has provided an opportunity to focus political discussions on the climate since 1995. On each day of the conference, leaders will discuss different themes in relation to climate change. Some of these themes include finance, youth, adaptation, gender and food systems, among others.
Several goals of this year’s conference will appear very similar to those of 2021. However, a greater emphasis will be placed on specific areas this year, including implementation and financing.
Finance featured heavily on the agenda of last year’s conference and will do so again this year. The fact that the conference is being hosted by an African country will be significant in these discussions; it is likely that a strong urge will be placed on wealthier nations to provide economic aid to developing countries so that they can progress in their renewable energy commitments at a similar rate.
Previous commitments from wealthy nations to provide $100 billion each year have not yet met their agreed targets and so we are likely to see increased calls for nations to deliver on their commitments. Amidst a backdrop of war in Europe, the continuing Covid-19 pandemic and worldwide inflation, discussions may not be straightforward. However, it cannot be denied that this will be crucial in efforts to combat climate change. Due to the vast changes in infrastructure required, we cannot reach our goals without mobilising finance specifically for this.
A United Global Community
Similar to the above, we are likely to see repeated calls for nations to work together to help us reach our decarbonisation goals before it is too late. Much of this is driven by finance, but also overall mentality. The COP Presidency urges us to ‘harmonize our global efforts’ and work together as a global community with one goal, rather than separate nation states each trying to achieve their own objectives. In order to be successful, they argue that we must completely remove any ‘us and them’ mentality and work together as one. 
In this regard, it is prescient that the COP Presidency is based in Africa for 2022 and will help bring greater emphasis to the discussions on unity and climate equality. In order to progress these discussions, nations must also recognise that certain geographic locations, often developing nations, are disproportionately affected by climate change.
COP President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, has stated that ‘Egypt will spare no effort to ensure that COP27 becomes the moment when the world moved from negotiation to implementation and where words were translated to actions.’Traditionally, COP is an event at which momentous decisions are made and crucial agreements put in place; however, the next step of putting these into practice is not always as clear or straightforward.
As each year passes, the likelihood of maintaining temperature increases within previously agreed levels becomes more and more difficult. We have little time left to waste; however, it remains to be seen how other global crises, such as the invasion of Ukraine and global inflation, will impact the rate at which we are able to implement the necessary changes.
Progress since COP26
It can be argued that not enough progress has been made over the last year, and some political decisions, such as investing in fracking or new oil projects, suggest that we are nowhere near working towards decarbonisation goals.
In reality, unprecedented global events have taken away from climate discussions to a great extent and potentially slowed down progress significantly. With fears of energy blackouts over the winter, governments are turning back to fossil fuels to avoid this, rather than investing further into renewable energy.
Nevertheless, we have seen some examples of progress, including record breaking growth in renewable energy in 2022. For more analysis on this, you can read our article, Institute Insights: The Failures and Success of COP26.
What is at stake if we don’t make progress?
COP27 marks an incredibly important turning point in our fight against climate change. If in fact, we can put in place global plans for implementing measures, we may finally begin to turn the tide and avert the global catastrophes that await should we fail to make progress. The longer we wait to do so, the more we risk loss of life and ecosystems across the world. With climate related natural disasters on the rise, it is clear that we need to make sacrifices and commitments in order to minimise further risks and loss of life.
In the lead up to COP27, the conference and the presidency have already received some negative press, which could affect global perception of the event, before it is even underway.
Firstly, it was announced that Coca-Cola will be sponsoring the conference. As one of the world’s largest corporations, they are responsible for a huge proportion of global plastic pollution. Plus the plastic used in their packaging is made from fossil fuels.
It could be argued that their involvement signals a shift in the company’s attitude to environmental matters. In fact, Coca Cola has claimed that they have a number of climate goals themselves, including ‘reducing carbon emissions across the supply chain in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement’ and ‘net zero carbon emissions by 2050.’ 
Nevertheless, with little tangible evidence of this in practice, the decision to involve them as sponsors of the COP is somewhat unaligned with the decisions that need to be made. As many climate activists have argued, this constitutes levels of ‘greenwashing’ that cast doubts over the legitimacy of the conference as a whole.
More significantly, the Egyptian government has been accused of imprisoning activists who speak out against the state and its practices. It is estimated that there are over 60,000 political prisoners held in Egypt at this time, with claims that torture of these individuals is also commonplace.  As such there have even been calls to remove the Presidency from Egypt entirely, to send the message that this must not be tolerated. With such scrutiny over human rights practices in the country, this may impact the discussions set to take place and cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the Presidency.
Time will tell if these controversies have an impact on the potential of COP27. In reality, we cannot afford to allow the conference to pass by without making significant progress that leads to implementation on the short-term.
From the above we can see that clear goals are set out for the conference, and the emphasis being placed on implementation is promising. We hope that you will follow the Renewable Energy Institute’s coverage throughout the conference for our analysis, to see if in fact COP27 is able to achieve its aims.
The Institute’s coverage of COP27 will take various different formats, including our expert-led roundtable discussion in November 2022. Join our Professional Membership Programme now to get first access to tickets for our COP27 Roundtable event.
Or why not enrol on a course today, and receive one year of complimentary membership, while also updating your knowledge to be part of the Renewable Energy Revolution?