- COP27 is the annual United Nations meeting of the 197 countries that have agreed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- It’s being held in Egypt, at the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
- World leaders say it’s vital to the global effort to fight climate change.
- Some critics see too little progress from years of gatherings.
An Egyptian resort town will begin hosting a massive annual United Nations climate meeting on Sunday. But it will be a place where real action can be taken on addressing climate change, or it will be a distressing example of international greenwashing that makes little serious progress?
It depends on whom you ask. President Joe Biden will be attending what’s known as COP27 for at least a day. The White House says he’ll “build on the significant work the United States has undertaken to advance the global climate fight.”
But Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg counts herself among the gathering’s critics. Speaking in London at the release of her book, “The Climate Book,” the 19-year-old who has gained global fame in the fight against climate change said the meetings are mostly a chance for “leaders and people in power to get attention , using many different kinds of greenwashing.”
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Here’s what to know about COP27:
What is COP27?
COP27 is the annual United Nations meeting of the 197 countries that have agreed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, originally adopted in 1992. The meeting is the decision-making body of the countries that signed onto the framework. It is held to assess how well nations are dealing with climate change.
What are the dates of COP27?
Where is COP27 being held?
It’s being held in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. It is known for its sandy beaches and coral reefs and is a major tourist destination for divers. It’s pronounced Sharm-el-shake.
What does COP27 stand for?
COP is short for “Conference of the Parties,” because it is a conference of the parties or countries that signed the agreement. This is the 27th meeting of all the signatories. The first was in 1995 in Berlin. The numbering is slightly off because COP 26 was postponed for a year because of COVID-19. It’s pronounced cop (as in police) 27.
Is COP27 necessary?
Before the industrial revolution, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million. CO2 traps the sun’s heat, warming the plant. This year’s measurement is 419 parts per million, a number not seen since the Pliocene Epoch 4.1 to 4.5 million years ago. At that time, the sea level was about 78 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupying areas of the Arctic that are now tundra, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Critics have said the entire process of annual meetings and small, incremental and sometimes bureaucratic change is too little, too late. Speaking in London on Sunday, Thunberg said rapid, far-reaching and change is needed to deal with global warming.
COP27 has also been criticized for allowing Coca-Cola, one of the world’s largest plastic producers, to be a major sponsor of the event. The company has responses that it is prepared to do its part to fight against climate change.
Is this year’s COP especially important?
Those attending would tell you every COP is important.
But next year’s should get even more attention. It will be the first time the nations that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 (at COP21) will tell the world how well they’ve implemented their climate plans and identify what still needs to be done. It is being called the Global Stocktake and will be presented at COP28 in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
What’s expected to happen in Egypt?
This year countries are supposed to deliver updated plans on how they’re going to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, something they agreed to do at last year’s COP in Glasgow, Scotland.
Only 23 out of 193 countries have submitted their plans to the UN
Because this COP is being held in Africa, it’s expected to include more focus on African issues. This is not the first COP to be held in Africa, however. The 2001 and 2016 meetings were in Morocco, 2006 in Kenya and 2011 in South Africa.
What is ‘loss and damage’ financing, and what does it have to do with COP27?
COP27 is also supposed to take on “loss and damage” financing. That’s the controversial question of how poor and vulnerable nations dealing with climate change might be compensated by wealthy countries.
Developing countries are demanding some type of global compensation or aid fund, saying their people are living with – and dying from – climate change caused by more developed nations that got wealthy by burning fossil fuels.
Who is attending?
More than 35,000 people from around the world are expected to be in Egypt at the meeting, from official government delegations to climate who are corralled into a separate designated protest area away from the conference center. Protests are severely restricted in Egypt.
Biden is expected to attend for at least a day. This will be the first COP after the United States’ landmark Inflation Reduction Act was passed in Augustthe largest single climate action the nation has taken.
King Charles III of the United Kingdom, a passionate advocate on behalf of the environment before taking the throne in September, has attended previous COPs. He will not be attending this one.