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COP27: What are the key agenda items for the upcoming climate conference?


With November just around the corner, the 27th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh is gearing up to bring together worldwide representatives to discuss current global climate change issues. Here is a look at what is on the agenda to be addressed this year.


What progress has been made since last year?

As is the goal of every conference, COP27 will observe the data submitted by Parties in attendance to surmise whether there has been sufficient progress made—particularly whether countries have kept to last year’s promises. 

At the opening of Climate Week New York City on the 19th of September, Simon Stiell, the new Executive Secretary of UN (United Nations) Climate Change, said that COP27 was “the world’s first opportunity in the era of implementation of the Paris Agreement to demonstrate progress” and that “COP27 is our first opportunity in this new era of implementation to demonstrate progress and that we are moving in the right direction.”

Back in March COP26 Champion Nigel Topping and COP27 Champion Mahmoud Mohieldin met with regional stakeholders from across the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region to talk about the results of COP26 and discuss their vision of action leading up to COP27. Delivering tangible progress towards campaigns such as the 2030 Breakthrough Outcomes was part of these discussions, and seeing progress like this is central to the goal of the Convention every year. This year will be no exception for all in attendance.

Funding and finance action

One major topic for COP27 is the finance of climate action and how it can be accessed and mobilised by all Parties in attendance. Public finance is still falling short of the joint goal set for 2020 of USD 100 billion for climate finance, and the conference is particularly encouraging finance in the form of grants for developing countries facing extreme weather events because of climate change. This follows the news back in January of American Democrat Joe Manchin becoming villainised by the people of developing countries such as Bangladesh as he blocked major climate change legislation from passing.

Another focus for governments is the need to create the right frameworks to align financial institutions with climate objectives, to increase finance for long-term strategies. It is expected trillions will be needed to meet the climate finance needs of developing countries, and the Parties in attendance are being encouraged to look to bilateral, multilateral, and philanthropic sources to raise funding further. The conference recognises that accessing this climate finance has been getting easier, but there is also an emphasis on doing more to make climate finance much more accessible, such as reducing significant delays between project conception, approval of funding and disbursement of funds.

To do this, the need for a clearer common definition of ‘climate finance’ has been noted, as well as the need to move away from investments in emission intensive sectors.

Ocean action

Finally, it is believed that discussion around oceans will be a central theme at COP27, following on from negotiations for a binding global treaty to end plastic pollution being accepted by the UN Environment Assembly back in March. 2022 has been considered ‘the Super Year of the Ocean’ after another breakthrough at the UN-Ocean Conference in June saw governments collectively agree to scale up “science-based and innovative actions” to address climate change affecting the ocean.

Most notably, the first annual Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue was also held in June this year, bringing together Parties and non-Party stakeholders to discuss goals and priorities focused on the ocean for COP27 and beyond. This convention resulted in a new report highlighting the importance of the ocean, as a component of the climate system that covers around 70% of the planet and puts those living in coastal regions at the forefront of climate change disasters.

This puts the pressure on COP27 to encourage global governments for more action related to oceans, such as a focus on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and improving our ocean science by developing integrated solutions offered by the ocean. Funding becomes an important topic again here, as the report encourages “strengthened finance and other support” that embraces “innovative and multidisciplinary solutions” to achieve these goals.

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