Issues like climate justice, reducing global emissions, sustainable growth and resilience, scaled-up adaptation efforts, and the enhanced flows of appropriate finance are engaging the world and Egypt as it prepares to host the UN COP27 Climate Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in less than two months’ time.
This month and next month are expected to witness a series of in-person heads of delegation informal consultations prior to the COP27 in order to bring the parties closer, bridge gaps, and find common ground for action.
The first round of the consultations will be held on 10-11 September in Cairo and focus on questions related to averting, minimising, and addressing loss and damage due to climate change. The second round will be held in Cairo on 13 October with a focus on mitigation and financing.
On Monday, Foreign Minister and President Designate of the COP27 Sameh Shoukri discussed preparations and cooperation with Khalida Bouzar, the UN assistant secretary-general and director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Arab States.
He also reviewed Egypt’s preparations and objectives for COP27.
The two officials discussed the Egyptian National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS), which Bouzar praised, saying that the UNDP would work on providing measures necessary for future implementation. Egypt launched the NCCS in May.
In another meeting on the significance of COP27 for Egypt’s inclusive economic development, Wael Abul-Magd, special representatives of the COP27 president designate, said that climate change was an existential threat to the world. It was not a choice or luxury to make dealing with climate change a priority.
“Climate change is not merely an environmental phenomenon, but also one that has vast economic effects on humanity. We are in need of collective efforts from all the world’s states to deal with it,” Abul-Magd, also Egypt’s ambassador to Brazil and a member of the board of the Green Climate Fund for the African Continent, said in a talk organised by Alternative Policy Solutions, a public policy research project at the American University in Cairo (AUC).
While he underlined that climate-financing is the core and centre of the climate change issue, he added that what is on the table at present is not enough and is directed to mitigation rather than adaptation efforts and is based on loans and not grants.
“Thus, the developing countries that are the most affected by increasing emissions and the least responsible for causing them are required to take out loans to reduce their effects. That points to the lack of climate justice,” he said.
As for Egypt’s goals for the global meeting or the expected outcome, Abul-Magd said that the host country had no power to direct the participants. However, it provides room for encouraging them to reach positive outcomes across the board.
Egypt will provide a suitable environment for holding negotiations and will organise side events and come up with initiatives, he said.
Every COP meeting held so far has faced difficulties, he said, but the COP27 is being held when the world is recovering from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic that has had variable economic effects on different states as well as reacting to the war in Ukraine that has led to a rise in the prices of food and fuel worldwide.
There were also tensions between the US and China, the two countries responsible for the most emissions, he said. Cooperation between these two countries was required in order to deal with climate change, and their differences would have a great effect on reaching a common agreement.
“Any measure that is postponed becomes more challenging and costlier to achieve later,” he added.
The floods in Pakistan that have affected more than 30 million people are proof of the drastic effects of climate change and the importance of quick action, Abul-Magd said.
Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the international community made ambitious commitments that collectively aim to limit the global average temperature increase to below two degrees Celsius and preferably at the level of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 parties at the COP21 Conference in Paris in 2015. It entered into force on 4 November 2016.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.