COP27 highlights: Will the summit deliver climate change targets set in the Paris Agreement?

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 opened on 6 November with a key aim of ensuring full implementation of the Paris agreement.

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 countries at COP21 in Paris in 2015 and entered into force in 2016.

Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.

To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate-neutral world by mid-century. 

Discussions at COP27 begin near the end of the year that has seen devastating floods and unprecedented heat waves, severe drought and formidable storms, and all unequivocal signs of the unfolding climate emergency.

At the same time, millions of people throughout the World are confronting the impacts of simultaneous crises in energy, food, water and cost of living, aggravated by severe geopolitical conflicts and tensions.

A report published by UN Climate Change ahead of COP27 shows that whilst countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

In his opening address, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Simon Steill asked governments to focus on three critical areas at COP27. The first is a transformational shift to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions.

The second is the cementing process on critical work streams of mitigation, adaptations, finance and loss and damage while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

The third is enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

Senegal’s president and president of the African Union, Macky Sall while addressing the world leaders said Africans should push for low-carbon development even though the continent generates less than 4% of the world’s green gas.

Meanwhile, in one of the powerful speeches, former US Vice president Al Gore said we are treating the blue shell that protects us, our atmosphere as an “open sewer”. 

Mr Gore said that leaders have a credibility problem, they talk but they are not doing enough.

“It’s a choice to continue this destructive pattern”, he explained, arguing that climate change works similarly to “an apartheid”, with the most vulnerable suffering the worst.

“We don’t have to choose curses, we can choose blessings, including the blessings of renewable energy. We are in the early stages of the energy revolution. If we invest in it and stop subsidizing the culture of death, we can save ourselves,” he said.

Mia Mottley, Barbado’s Prime Minister, made a case for tackling the issue of loss and damage, one of COP’s most debated themes. She saluted Denmark, Belgium and Scotland for allocating funds for developing countries, with barely any responsibility for global emissions, strongly affected by climate change. 

Rishi Sunak the United Kingdom Prime Minister tweeted on Tuesday, “today i join from across the world at COP27. For our children and grandchildren, we must deliver on the legacy of Glasgow and protect the future of the planet”. 

US president Joe Biden and Brazil’s new president Lula Da Silva are expected next week.

Chinese President Xi Jin Ping will not attend the conference but will send a representative to the conference.

There are no representatives from India and Russia as well.

The UN Climate Change Conference will end on 18 November 2022. 

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