The challenges of COP27 in Egypt

27 October, 2022

On 6 November, COP27, the 2022 Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will begin. In a programme running until the 18th of the same month, the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh will be the capital of the fight against climate change.

This conference comes at a time when the first serious consequences of climate change have been noticeable in countries unaccustomed to them, while countries with greater exposure have witnessed the increased intensity of natural disasters.

In the scientific community there is no doubt about the existence and causes of global warming, at the social and political level the denialists are few and far between, while in the economic sphere there is a clear commitment to sustainable development. Therefore, at a critical moment with a high level of consensus, the Egyptian sessions are of paramount importance to materialise the agreements and clarify the debates that have been taking place at each year’s COPs since the Paris Agreements in 2015.

The energy transition plays a major role, as it is necessary to change the model of energy production, distribution and consumption in order to reduce emissions. And the sustainability of a key sector, such as the energy sector, is also relevant as it has a direct impact on many other sectors to which it provides energy.

Is necessary to change the model of energy production, distribution and consumption in order to reduce emissions

The challenges of COP27 in Egypt

The Presidency of the Conference, which is held by Egypt as the organiser, in collaboration with the Glasgow COP26, has detailed a series of targets to be pursued this year. And in all of them, the world has an exceptional ally that is already enabling us to make progress on climate goals: the energy transition.

1. Mitigation

Given that it is necessary to keep warming below 2°C (and even try to keep it below 1.5°C), COP27 will work to take “immediate action”, especially in those countries “in the best position”, i.e., the most developed ones.

Participating countries have several measures at their disposal to comply with the Paris Agreements, such as sustainable production, responsible waste management, raising public awareness and, of course, the energy transition. The last of these plays a major role in reducing emissions from the energy sector, adding to the decarbonisation of other sectors and also for sustainable development with affordable and reliable energy.

2. Adaptation

Extreme events related to climate change are becoming more frequent and severe. Adapting to them is one of the conclusions of Glasgow 2021, but this time the aim is to make an effort to help the most disadvantaged countries make progress in this regard. They will have to adapt to a world with more floods, higher temperatures and other increasingly common extreme weather events.

The energy transition can play a key role in this because:

  • The countries of the Global South generally have the best conditions for the deployment of renewable energies.
  • It is an opportunity to transform underdeveloped economies, generate new businesses and boost knowledge.
  • It is an alternative for local development in countries with a high percentage of rural population.
  • Rising prices for traditional energy sources offer an opportunity for renewable sources.
  • Energy security is a growing concern and the energy transition offers an alternative to achieve it.

3. Financing

Financing will be one of the major themes of COP27 and a “significant breakthrough” is expected in this area. In particular, the aim is to align and predict climate finance, increase the transparency of flows and improve access to financing for developing countries.

The chief goal is to make in progress the distribution of the $100 trillion per year pledged at previous meetings, but the energy transition is also relevant here. First, because it will be one of the measures to which part of these funds will be allocated; and second, because the transfer of knowledge and technology by industrialised countries can be a way of collaborating with less developed countries, without getting into more complex issues related to financing such as subsidies, loans, etc.

4. Collaboration

Collaboration between countries is vital in achieving the goals. Given that negotiations within the UN are based on consensus, it may not be possible to aspire to breakthrough measures, but it is possible to aspire to inclusive measures with the participation of everyone.

Collaboration between countries is vital in achieving the goals

The energy transition is a win-win solution, with clear benefits for the overall goal and a transformative capacity at all levels. It also consists of measures that can be rapidly replicated, implemented and scaled up in different countries.

The agreements of the Climate Change Conferences

It may be difficult to push through urgent measures at this COP, but collective action, ambitious transformation and global political will are expected. Mainly because emphasis will be focused on the need for collaboration and on the financing of measures (the latter is always a controversial point).

It may be difficult to push through urgent measures at this COP, but collective action, ambitious transformation and global political will are expected

At the last Inter-Annual Climate Change Conference held in Bonn (Germany), a meeting to follow up on the work since the last COP and before the next one, the following became clear:

  • The mobilisation of resources to combat the causes and effects of global warming will be one of the central debates.
  • Addressing the needs of the least developed countries with the greatest exposure to climate change will be an increasingly important issue.

Reaching agreements, despite the worsening climate crisis, will be extremely difficult, although it is hoped that governments will understand the magnitude of the problem.