What is COP27?
The UN Climate Change Conference (the official name for climate Conferences of the Parties) has happened every year since 1995. These two-week summits are an important space for world leaders, politicians, experts and a whole host of other people to discuss the climate crisis on a global level.
The annual conferences bring together those that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – an international environmental treaty addressing climate change – 30 years ago.
Every UN member state is a signatory for the UNFCCC, as well as Palestine, the Cook Islands and Niue. The Holy See is also an observer of the treaty. Effectively every nation, country, or state in the world is involved, giving a total of 197 signatory parties.
Each year representatives from every party come together to discuss action on climate change for the Conference of the Parties or COP. Following COP26 in Glasgow last year, the 27th COP is being hosted in Egypt next month
What can we expect at COP27?
“The work ahead is immense. As immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during a pre-COP meeting this week.
“A third of Pakistan flooded. Europe’s hottest summer in 500 years. The Philippines hammered. The whole of Cuba in black-out,” he listed.
Adding that in the US, Hurricane Ian has delivered “a brutal reminder that no country and no economy is immune from the climate crisis.”
The onslaught of climate disasters in 2022 has left little breathing space for the international community to respond. And, as the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows, time is ticking ever more dangerously towards the 1.5C threshold of global warming.
“COP27 is critical – but we have a long way to go,” adds Guterres.
When is COP27?
COP27 is taking place over two weeks, from 7 November to 18 November.
The fortnight of negotiations will kick off with a World Leader’s Summit on 7 and 8 November. After this, government officials will tackle some of the weightiest issues surrounding climate including finance, decarbonisation, adaptation and agriculture.
In the second week, big topics including gender, water and biodiversity will be in the spotlight.
An overview of the calendar was published by the UN in August here, with more information on the thematic days available on the COP27 Presidency site.
Though there are no plans for the final day, COPs are notorious for over-running. COP26 in Glasgow didn’t deliver a final agreement until Saturday 13 November.
Where is COP27 being held?
Egypt is hosting COP this year, in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh.
This is the first COP in Africa since COP22 was held in Morocco in 2016. It’s hoped that it will be an ‘African COP’ in focus as well as location as African countries face some of the worst impacts of climate change.
There are two main sites for the event: the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The former is where the official negotiations take place, bringing together the delegates and observers through discussions, exhibits and cultural activities.
This UN-managed space is based at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center (SHICC), just south of the town centre.
Across the road is the Green Zone, which is run by the Egyptian government and open to the public.
The site says it will be an “inclusive” platform where “business community, youth, civil and Indigenous societies, academia, artists and fashion communities from all over the world can express themselves and their voices would be heard.”
Why is Egypt hosting COP27 so controversial?
The question of whose voices will be heard – and whose won’t – is an especially contentious one this year.
COP hosting duties rotate around five UN regional groups. The African group countries decided among themselves who would step forward. Morocco’s Marrakech has hosted twice, as well as Kenya and South Africa; all in the continent’s top six richest nations by GDP.
The UNFCCC secretariat undertook a fact-finding mission to check Egypt has the resources to put on such a huge event. Though this was done by the book, Egypt’s presidency is controversial because of its poor record on human rights.
Since seizing power in 2013, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government has overseen a widespread crackdown on dissent. At least 65,000 political prisoners are currently behind bars, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information estimates.