COP27: Road to Sharm El-Sheikh

By Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit

At three weeks to go, it’s time to start thinking in terms of days! Just 23 to go before officials, experts, campaigners, businesses and governments convene on the Red Sea coast for two weeks of climate diplomacy.Shape of the summitProceedings begin on Sunday 6th, to finalise agreement to the COP agenda. Then heads of government attend on Monday and Tuesday for the world leaders’ summit. At the start of this month, the Egyptian hosts were suggesting that 90 leaders were confirmed to be attending. The Washington Post has since reported that President Biden will be amongst those attending – which may well encourage others to join him.The presidency has then designated themes for each of the days. For the remainder of week one, that will be:

  • finance on Wednesday;
  • science, youth and future generations on Thursday;
  • decarbonisation on Friday;
  • agriculture and adaptation on Saturday.

After a pause on Sunday, week two’s themes are:

  • water, and gender on Monday;
  • energy, and civil society on Tuesday;
  • biodiversity on Wednesday;
  • Thursday has been designated ‘solution day’.

Alongside these themes, detailed negotiations will be happening on issues like Article 6 (on carbon accounting) in week one, and week two is traditionally when the outputs of technical negotiations are submitted upwards to Ministers as the COP begins to synthesise progress into the closing declaration as to what has been agreed.UK attendanceIt is fair to say that there has been a little to-ing and fro-ing in the UK on who is likely to attend, or not – including headlines as to whether the King will be there. The Egyptians have reiterated an invitation for him, in the face of reports that the Prime Minister had said that he could not go, and COP26 president, Alok Sharma, publicly called for both the King and the PM to attend. As of now, it appears Liz Truss is expected to attend, as is Business and Energy Secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg – along, possibly, with climate Minister Graham Stuart, and of course Alok Sharma himself.State of play on emissions cutsOnly 23 nations submitted updated NDCs ahead of the UN’s deadline to enable work to crunch the numbers and figure out what it all means for overall warming trajectory internationally. Ahead of COP, the UN Environment Programme will publish its emissions gap report, the UNFCCC will publish their synthesis of emissions pledges, Climate Action Tracker will update a number of its country assessments, amongst many other assessments of progress by the biggest emitters – particularly the G20 group of nations, whose leaders meet part-way through week two of COP27. Expect to hear more on all of these, plus the story of wider global momentum not encapsulated in targets yet, such as that being generated by the EU’s race to end reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

Loss and damageAs we draw closer to COP27, loss and damage is taking centre stage. Referring to the huge cost of the appalling devastation caused by the flooding in Pakistan, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has reiterated that wealthier nations have a ‘moral responsibility’ to help with recovery. And one of the architects of the Paris Agreement, Laurence Tubiana, has suggested that the legitimacy of the UN process itself will be in question if there is not progress in Sharm El-Sheikh. The G77 negotiating group, with China, have called for loss and damage’s inclusion on the formal COP27 agenda, and Egypt have appointed Chile and Germany to co-ordinate discussions. Leading that for Germany is former executive director of Greenpeace International, appointed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz as a special envoy on climate action.It is not clear where the UK will stand on the issue, once they are a party again – having stood down from the COP presidency. However, ahead of COP, all eyes will be on suggestions being made in UK media that the British Chancellor of the Exchequer is eyeing further cuts to overseas development assistance (ODA) – one of the key ways in which the UK supports poorer, developing nations in the face of climate disasters.