With COP27 fast approaching — it is scheduled for 7-18 November in Sharm El-Sheikh — Egypt is working to create the space needed for productive discussions and to raise levels of political will and the finance required to ensure that commitments and pledges made in the Paris Agreement and at COP26 are met.
This week’s Africa Climate Week 2022 (ACW 2022), held between 29 August and 2 September in Libreville, Gabon, cast light on climate injustice in Africa. Inaugurated by President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, the event was attended by Egypt’s Foreign Minister and COP27 President Designate Sameh Shoukri, high-level envoys from African countries and representatives of UN agencies.
Shoukri underlined that while Africa contributes less than four per cent of global emissions, the impacts of climate change are already impacting its efforts for sustainable growth and testing the resilience of its communities.
“Africa is obliged, with its already limited financial means and scant level of support, to spend around 2-3 per cent of its GDP per annum to adapt. This cannot be described as anything other than climate injustice,” he said in his opening address to ACW 2022.
He added that all parties in Africa, including the continent’s thriving private sector, must continue to call for climate justice based on equity and the availability of means of implementation, guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and available capabilities.
Egypt’s top diplomat stressed that Egypt is committed to ensuring sustained and reliable support for African countries and access to climate finance sufficient to allow the continent to meaningfully contribute to the global climate response.
On the periphery of ACW22, Shoukri met President Ondimba and his Foreign Minister Michael Moussa Adamo, and presented his host with an invitation from President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi to participate in the world leaders’ summit during COP27.
Within the framework of ongoing preparations for COP27, Shourki also took part in the Asia Pacific Round Table, a regional forum on climate initiatives to finance climate action and the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Bangkok.
In his address, Shoukri said that while all participants acknowledge the complexities of multiple global crises, Egypt believes it is crucial to raise the threshold for action at COP27 through emission reductions, scaled-up adaptation efforts and enhanced finance.
Climate finance, he argued, is key to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, and “there is an urgent need to unlock climate finance through the massive mobilisation of public and private finance for climate action at the local, national and regional levels across all areas of climate action.”
This week’s round table is the second in a series of five regional fora on initiatives to finance climate action and the SDGs in the run-up to COP27. They aim to create effective partnerships to facilitate government and private investments in clean energy projects, food security and digital transformation and shed light on successful models already being employed.
The first regional forum, covering Africa, was held in Addis Ababa. A third meeting will be held in Santiago, Chile, hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean; a fourth, for the Middle East and Arab countries, will be hosted by the UN Commission for West Asia in Beirut, with a final meeting hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). The results of the meetings will be presented at COP27.
The run-up to COP27 also saw the convening of the High-Level Dialogue with Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean. SIDS are particularly vulnerable to climate change, and like African states, will bear unfair costs despite their negligible contribution to its causes.
In a virtual address to the meeting Shoukri said that the tragedy inflicted on island nations “continues to unfold as extreme weather events occur with increasing frequency and intensity, shrinking economies, impairing development, and forcibly displacing communities”.
“Many island states face the threat of becoming uninhabitable or vanishing altogether.”
During the 13th Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD13), which met early in August, participants agreed that increased focus needs to be paid to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, and to link climate action to prosperity.
In addition to the series of high-level meeting, the next two months will see an increasing number of in-person heads of delegation consultations in order to bring parties closer, bridge gaps, and find common ground for action during COP27.
The first round will be held on 10-11 September in Cairo, the venue for a second round on 13 October which will focus on mitigation and finance.
Under the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 Parties at COP21 in Paris in 2015, the international community made ambitious commitments that collectively aim to limit the global average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement came into force on 4 November 2016.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 1 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.