COP27: ‘Climate chaos’ as UN climate summit begins

The UN’s annual climate change summit has opened with hosts Egypt calling on countries to move from “pledges to an era of implementation”.

More than 120 world leaders are due to make speeches at the conference, known as COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh.

About 40,000 people will attend but some activists are staying away over concerns about Egypt’s rights record.

As COP27 opened the UN released a new report it described as a “chronicle of climate chaos”.

“It is inherent on us all in Sharm el-Sheikh to demonstrate our recognition of the magnitude of the challenges we face and our steadfast resolve to overcome it.”

The need for action was laid bare in the latest report from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.

In the State of the Global Climate Report 2022, scientists estimate that global temperatures have now risen by 1.15C since pre-industrial times and said the latest eight years were on track to be the warmest on record.

The urgency of the climate change issue has been evident during the past 12 months with devastating flooding in Pakistan as well as in places including Nigeria and extreme heat in India and Europe in the summer.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said on the release of the report that it was clear the “planet is sending a distress signal”.

Outgoing COP president Alok Sharma said in a speech: “How many wake-up calls does the world, and world leaders, actually need?”

COP27 will really begin in earnest on Monday with a World Leaders’ Summit, when heads of state and government leaders deliver five-minute addresses outlining what they want from the meeting.

PM Rishi Sunak is expected to urge world leaders to move “further and faster” in transitioning to renewable energy.

He will also tell leaders not to “backslide” on commitments made at last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow.

At COP26 there were powerful speeches from people like Barbadian PM Mia Mottley, who told an enrapt audience that temperature rises of “two degrees is a death sentence” for island nations.

Barbados PM Mia Mottley: “Two degrees is a death sentence” for island nations.Source: (Democracy Now)

World leaders will speak on Monday and Tuesday, and once they depart, conference delegates get down to the business of negotiation.

At last year’s summit in Glasgow a number of pledges were agreed:

to “phase down” the use of coal – one of the most polluting fossil fuels
to stop deforestation by 2030
to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030
to submit new climate action plans to the UN
Developing nations – which are at the forefront of climate change – are demanding that previous commitments to finance are upheld.

Are countries on track to meet the climate goals from Glasgow?
Who are the leaders and laggards on climate action?

But they also want there to be discussion on “loss and damage” finance – money to help them cope with the losses they are already facing from climate change rather than just to prepare for future impacts.

Following intense negotiations last year in Glasgow, the issue is on the official agenda of COP27.

Developing countries are seeking money to recover from ongoing climate disasters. Flooding after tropical Storm Nalgae in Philippines.

As well as all the formal negotiations there will be hundreds of events over the two weeks with exhibitions, workshops and cultural performances from youth, business groups, indigenous societies, academia, artists and fashion communities from all over the world.

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, in power since 2014, has overseen a widespread crackdown on dissent.

Rights groups estimate the country has had as many as 60,000 political prisoners, many detained without trial.

Mr Shoukry has said that space would be set aside in Sharm el-Sheikh for protests to take place.

However, Egyptian activists have told the BBC that many local groups had been unable to register for the conference.

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