The world is on track for a 2.8 Celsius rise in global temperatures, and the UN is currently trying to bring the world together to cooperate on climate action. Its main initiative is COP meetings, which stands for Conference of the Parties. Last year, at COP26 in Glasgow, many nations made promises to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and ease up on fossil fuel dependence. But the UN is now accusing them of wasting a year by not delivering on those pledges.
This week, COP27 starts in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Will we see any major shifts in global policy?
COP27 comes during a strange sociopolitical moment. The world is teetering on the edge of economic recession and dealing with ballooning inflation. Plus, there's an entire war going on between Ukraine and Russia. And relations between China and the US have become more and more tense recently, which doesn't exactly pave the way for climate collaboration.
All of the almost 200 countries attending COP27 promised to submit new or updated climate action plans, but only 24 did. Some countries will be releasing their plans at the conference, such as Chile, Mexico and Turkey. But, when it comes to major developing economies like China, we're not sure if and when we'll see new plans. Li Shuo, a China climate expert at environmental group Greenpeace, weighed in, saying, "The chance for China to make another major move ahead of COP27 is low."
For COP27, Egypt selected "loss and damage" as the main focus, exploring reparations for losses and damages caused by climate-related disasters. Developing countries are pushing for a Loss and Damage fund to be created. This is the first time this controversial topic will be on the UN's formal agenda.
Unfortunately, eco-celeb Greta Thunberg won't be going to COP27. "The COPs are mainly used as an opportunity for leaders and people in power to get attention, using many different kinds of greenwashing," she said. She adds that these conferences "are not really meant to change the whole system … The COPs are not really working, unless of course we use them as an opportunity to mobilize."