The Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference opened with strong appeals to step up climate action and support, and move from pledges to implementation. Parties and observers outlined their expectations for the meeting in a joint opening plenary, and all bodies’ agendas were successfully adopted. Negotiations also started on a number of issues, including guidance on cooperative approaches under Paris Agreement Article 6.2 and the work programme for urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation referred to in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
COP 26 President Alok Sharma reflected on achievements made at, and since, COP 26, noting that over 90% of the global economy is now covered by net-zero targets. He said “inaction is myopic” and urged world leaders attending COP 27 to explain clearly what they have achieved in the last year and how they will go further.
COP 27 President Sameh Shoukry said recent extreme events all over the world are another wake-up call to act and urged moving from negotiations and pledges to an era of implementation. He said “zero-sum games will have no winners” and called for implementing commitments for the sake of humanity and the planet.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell observed that while “Paris gave us the agreement and Katowice and Glasgow gave us the plan, Sharm El-Sheikh shifts us to implementation,” underscoring that no one can be “a mere passenger.” He outlined three critical lines of action: demonstrating a transformational shift to implementation; cementing progress on workstreams on mitigation, adaptation, finance, and loss and damage; and enhancing delivery on the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the process.
Cautioning that the world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chair Hoesung Lee urged collective action, stressing that the range of options and time available will not be there for future leaders and policymakers.
Parties expressed their expectations for the meeting, emphasizing the need for this COP to be an implementation COP. Developing countries called for scaling up funding for adaptation and loss and damage, and for progress on the Global Goal on Adaptation, among others. Many called for science to guide the proceedings, and for a sustained focus on mitigation action and further ambition despite the crises the world has been facing this year.
There are five bodies meeting during this conference:
- COP: Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC
- CMA: Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement
- CMP: Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
- SBSTA: Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice
- SBI: Subsidiary Body for Implementation
Each body launched negotiations on their agenda items for this meeting. Speaking in a press conference, COP 27 President Shoukry noted that 48 hours of “Herculean” consultations over various new agenda item proposals had borne fruit and showed that countries recognize the importance of addressing loss and damage, as it was included on the COP and CMA agendas. However, as pointed out by the UNFCCC’s new Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, while a space has now been created for discussion on this long-standing issue, the real test will be the quality of these discussions and, ultimately, their outcome.