The future of the world discussed in Egypt Cop 27

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Protest in support of climate resilience. Courtesy of Markus Spiske.

Many readers welcomed, with surprise, the fact that the Conference of the Parties (COP) 27, this year’s most important climate change event was hosted by Egypt. Africa has been considered, for a long time, a minor player in international fora and meetings, therefore, the choice of Egypt has made many people think twice.

The previous COP was held in 2021 in Glasgow (Scotland) and the 2023 conference will be in Dubai. The COP is the global decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Every year, COP brings together 198 countries, which are United Nations member states, as well as the United Nations General Assembly observers like the State of Palestine and very few others to discuss progress and explore ways that can lead to better results. This year’s conference kicked off on 6 November 2022 and will end 18 November in Sharm el-Sheikh, a resort town with sheltered sandy beaches, clear waters and coral reefs, filled with bars and restaurants. Is Egypt trying to sell her tourist attractions alongside hosting this important world event?

With climate impacts becoming increasingly widespread, more rapid and intense, the world is at a critical juncture to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as committed to in the Paris Agreement. The temperatures of pre-modern times were good for the environment and many scholars claim that the way out for the world is to reconsider the pre-industrial era and its practices. The Conference, therefore, takes into consideration the previous international decision and measures that were aimed at salvaging the environment and counteracting climate change. Those agreements include the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

In plain terms, the Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement that aims to manage and reduce carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases. We might need some environmental education here to explain these technical terms for the benefit and comprehension of the general readership. Greenhouse gas emissions are the emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere of various gases, especially carbon dioxide, that contribute to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a process that occurs when gases in the earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat making the Earth much warmer. The greenhouse effect makes the Earth a comfortable place in which to live; it maintains the planet’s temperature at a level suitable for the development of life. The protocol was adopted at a conference in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and became international law on 16 February 2005.  Those two environment-related decisions are central to the COP.

This event adopts the following format. World leaders, ministers and negotiators come together to agree on “how to jointly address climate change and its impacts”. Civil society, businesses, international organizations and the media are present for transparency (reporting to the whole world whatever is decided) and businesses certainly ensure the accountability component. It might help to recall that the agenda of this “Egypt Chapter” is to negotiate new goals for climate finance, to succeed in reaching the US$100 billion by 2026. That amount is a target or promise because in 2009, at the COP in Copenhagen, Parties committed, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, to a goal of mobilising, jointly, $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. The negotiations were set to be finalized in 2024, but developing countries argue that COP 27 should lead to an ‘early harvest’ – initial agreement on a set of basic elements to be included in the new target. The following points will drive the Conference: keeping the rise in global average temperature to well below 2 or, ideally, 1.5 degrees Celsius; strengthen the ability to adapt to climate change and build resilience; and align finance flows with “a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emission and climate-resilient development”.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly states that the world is now in extraordinarily “dangerous territory”, and, as such, every small delay to proportionate action on mitigation and adaptation is a move closer to irredeemable damage to the climate and its ability to meet human needs. Around half of the world’s population is highly vulnerable, and those in highly vulnerable areas are 15 times more likely to die due to flood, droughts, and storms. The UN Chief, Antonio Guterres, captured the severity of the phenomenon in his speech at the Conference, “the clock is ticking with the planet fast approaching tipping points that can make ‘climate chaos’ irreversible; we are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator”. The dilemma remains whether humanity will ever abandon the pursuit of luxury, which is the first agent or producer of toxins that destroy the environment. How many people are ready to put their cars aside and ride in buses or on bicycles? Will the world ever agree that Africa should pay less because she is the smallest polluter, unlike the US and others who are then supposed to pay more, in the implementation of the polluter pays principle? NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) remains part of the fabric of developed nation. They approve these environmentally friendly measures and practices but refuse their implementation or application, since that reduces their comfort. Is COP addressing the real problem(s)?

Moussa Traoré is Associate Professor at the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

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9 Comments

  1. This is really very educative. The highest polluters are not really committed to fighting climate change. They drag their feet every year. The so call giants are really stepping on the smaller ones without any reflection

  2. World leaders should spend more money to finance a transition to more sustainable energy usage ,food consumption and transportation to help curb global temperature crisis rather than purchasing sophisticated arsenals and ammunitions for mass destruction for their parochial interest. These weapons of mass destruction further aggravate global temperature in no small way. If our existence means a lot ,world leaders must act in the interest of all people in the world over. Leaders must not fail the people who elect them to lead.No country is an island, no country can stand alone. The Civid-19 has the taught the world that whatever affect one nation directly affect the other nations indirectly. We must all do our little bit individually to save this present and future generation of global climatic crisis.
    So nice a piece Prof.

  3. You ask concluding “Is COP addressing the real problem(s)?”

    I say no.

    The whole of the COP concept and the 27th one is much ado about nothing really.

    How did we get here.

    Inhabitants of the world aren’t serious. We have created monsters that have come to gobble us through wanting comfortable life as your well researched write up points out.

    Human kind especially the African type is the most unwise.

    Having seen how the west have destroyed their environment through reckless activities and knowing what it means to follow suit we should have taken steps to safeguard our landscape but alas like the proverbial ostrich we have buried our ugly small small heads in sandy dunes while some few and who are antihumanity destroy the environment. Aisha Huan et al.

    Be that as it was. Instead of taking action we go to conferences of parties (cops) and talk ahhh without action.

    Hearing reports from Sharm El Sheik (which is still going on despite the official date of closing which is 18th November) I get this one too will be just a waste as the previous one as the environment around us quickly gets destroyed and forever. There is no agreement in unison as the main polluters wouldn’t give in much.

  4. Climate change is a reality and threatens the future of the Earth. It has even been revealed that, climate change poses a rising threat to mental health and psychological well-being, we hope there is a swift implementation of laws and measures to curtail and minimise this phenomenon.
    And I was very proud of Nakeeyat’s speech which attracted standing ovation at the Cop 27 summit in Egypt.
    Thank you very much prof, for this educative write up.

  5. Thank. You so much dear professor for this powerful and on time information.
    Is COP addressing the real problem(s)?
    I think no, the real problem is the mitigation action. Africa continent is the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change although the continent emits 4% of the worldwide green house gases(GHGs)(IPCC,2022).
    As well as I’m concerned, the Conference of Party is just a climate policy with gather 198 countries from the world and the output of the Conference doesn’t really respond to the real issues of climate change. Yes the leaders of the developed countries will say , the youth will lost their jobs if the factories stop to work, we will not wear clothes if we stop to emit GHGs, our agricultural production will will not provide a good yield if we stop to produce pesticides, chemically fertilizer so on and so forth.
    98% of the mitigation action are turned to the Africa continent but Africa is not the biggest GHGs emitter.
    Yes, we ‘ll make effort to collect €100billions but let me notice that this amount of money represent just a light percent of the generated economy from the crime to the environment by the developed country.
    Africa continent is a clean continent and need to transform it’s natural resources in order to develop the continent.
    To lessen the GHGs quantity emitted every year, the developed country like US, China, Japon, Inde… should stop their activities which contribute more to the warm of the planet.

  6. Thank. You so much dear professor for this powerful and on time information.
    Is COP addressing the real problem(s)?
    I think no, the real problem is the mitigation action. Africa continent is the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change although the continent emits 4% of the worldwide green house gases(GHGs)(IPCC,2022).
    As well as I’m concerned, the Conference of Party is just a climate policy with gather 198 countries from the world and the output of the Conference doesn’t really respond to the real issues of climate change. Yes the leaders of the developed countries will say , the youth will lost their jobs if the factories stop to work, we will not wear clothes if we stop to emit GHGs, our agricultural production will will not provide a good yield if we stop to produce pesticides, chemically fertilizer so on and so forth.
    98% of the mitigation action are turned to the Africa continent but Africa is not the biggest GHGs emitter.
    Yes, we ‘ll make effort to collect €100billions but let me notice that this amount of money represent just a light percent of the generated economy from the crime to the environment by the developed country.
    Africa continent is a clean continent and need to transform it’s natural resources in order to develop the continent.
    To lessen the GHGs quantity emitted every year, the developed country like US, China, Japon, Inde… should stop their activities which contribute more to the warm of the planet.
    Jean Gouvide GBAGUIDI, PhD, Climate and Disaster Risk Management

  7. Things are scarier when you listen to the experts on climate change. I was frightened listening to Antonio Guterres’ speech but that appears to the reality; luxury im developed countries is the main polluter. And guess what, most of the business men who attended this Summit went with their individual private jets; the irony!
    This is good writeup, Opanyin.

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