The U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, starts in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, next week, and climate change activists are pushing major emitters in developed countries to make bigger commitments at the conference.
According to a recent report by the U.N. Environment Program, the international community is still falling far short of the 2015 Paris Agreement goals, with no credible pathway to keep the rise in global temperatures below the key threshold of 1.5 C.
Carbon cutting plans by governments are still inadequate and environmental leaders are asking developed countries to do more.
“Seventy-five percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are from the G20, the biggest twenty economies,” U.N. Environment Executive Director Inger Andersen told VOA in an exclusive interview. “They need to do more. And that is the conversation we need to have at the COP in Sharm el-Sheikh, Africa’s COP as we call it. They need to lean in, both with money but also with their own emissions reduction.”
The conference comes at a time when the Horn of Africa endures record drought and famine warnings in Somalia. Africa produces less than 4% of global emissions yet still suffers the effects of global warming, including food insecurity, increased conflict and more severe weather events.
Thandile Chinyavanhu, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Africa in South Africa, says the effects can be seen all over the continent: “in the Horn of Africa where the fourth failed rainy season is driving famine in the country and similarly in the semi-arid regions of Kenya. We are seeing people in Mauritania and Nigeria affected by floods, where those floods have displaced something like 1.3 million people. And we’ve seen that in South Africa as well.”
As these disasters continue to affect millions, COP27 provides an opportunity for the international community to continue negotiations for global goals that would tackle climate change.
Muhtari Amiku Kano, the Africa Director for Policy and Government Relations at the Nature Conservancy in Nairobi, listed three important investments: technological transfers, capacity building, and in deploying adequate financial resources, “because without these three components, it will just be hot air and talk.”
According to Andersen, the path forward is also clear: “We are seeing that renewable energy; solar, electric vehicles, energy efficient buildings, smart infrastructure is becoming the thing. Let’s accelerate that, let’s just move it right ahead. That’s so obvious.”
Scientists say fighting climate change requires well-coordinated global action where everyone has a role to play. Many promises were made at last year’s COP26 conference in Glasgow and discussions at the Sharm el-Shiekh conference will be followed closely by many.