With one month to go before the UN climate summit hosted by Egypt begins, the agenda is taking shape.
Egypt has pushed to prioritise climate finance and “loss and damage” compensation to developing nations for the devastating effects of climate change at the Cop27 conference in Sharm El Sheikh.
Around 90 heads of state have confirmed their attendance, Wael Aboulmagd, special representative for the Cop27 presidency, said this week. More than 35,000 people are expected to participate in the conference at the Red Sea resort city, which runs from November 6 to 18.
The World Leaders Summit, which takes place in the first two days of the conference, will set the overall tone on what is needed to fulfil the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement and keep the 1.5°C global warming temperature limitation within reach.
Over the remaining period, several themes will be tackled, ranging from finance to gender.
Here are the 11 thematic days taking place at Cop27 and what they mean.
Sending a signal that it is the most pressing issue, climate finance will kick off the conference’s thematic days. Finance was also the first topic of discussion at last year's summit in Glasgow.
“A cross-cutting issue is always going to be finance — how are we going to pay for this?” said Mr Aboulmagd at a virtual press conference last week. “We cannot continue on this extremely adversarial trajectory. We need to find creative ways to finance.”
Low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure in low and middle-income countries could require investments of around $1.6 trillion annually from now to 2030, according to the World Bank.
A sore point has been developed nations’ unfulfilled pledge to provide developing countries with $100bn a year to fight climate change, but that would still not be enough.
Key topics of discussion for Finance Day will include addressing unsustainable levels of debt in developing countries, reducing the cost of green borrowing, increasing the attractiveness of adaptability projects to investors and enhancing the roles of the private sector and charities.
The Cop27 presidency will launch its guidebook for Just Financing, an initiative from the Egyptian Ministry of International Co-operation.
The challenges and opportunities around financing loss and damage will also be highlighted.
Loss and damage was a topic of discussion at Cop26, but the US and European Union opposed the creation of a separate compensation fund.
“It’s on the top of our minds. It’s a very sad situation, that the issue of loss and damage has lagged behind for so long,” Mr Aboulmagd said.
At the UN general assembly in New York last month, Denmark became the first country to offer loss and damage compensation. The government promised 100 million Danish crowns ($13.3m) to developing nations in the world’s most climate vulnerable regions.
“It is grossly unfair that the world’s poorest should suffer the most from the consequences of climate change to which they have contributed the least,” Denmark development minister Flemming Mortensen said when announcing the funds.
Science Day will discuss the findings of the sixth assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change.
An initiative called “Innovation for Climate” will encourage technology transfer and knowledge sharing from science academies, universities, research institutions, international organisations, industry and NGOs.
Winners of the Global Stocktake Climate Datathon, a competition to measure the world’s collective progress towards the Paris Agreement commitments, will be announced. The first GST runs from 2021 to 2023 and will be repeated every five years thereafter.
Youth and Future Generations Day
Since 2005, the UN Climate Change Conference of Youth has taken place a couple of days before the Conference of the Parties to make youth voices heard. Egypt will host Coy17 in Sharm El Sheikh on November 3-5.
Coy17 representatives will be able to present the Global Youth Statement and key policies for driving climate ambition to high-level policymakers.
“We don’t believe in tokenism,” Mr Aboulmagd said. “Implementation would be meaningless without all stakeholders on board.”
Oil and gas, steel and cement are three of the most carbon-intensive industries, contributing more than a quarter of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Decarbonisation Day will share progress, inspire further action and identify new technologies to reduce emissions from such heavily polluting sectors.
More than 120 countries have now signed the Global Methane Pledge that was launched in Glasgow, aiming to reduce methane emissions at least 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030. That reduction could eliminate over 0.2°C warming by 2050.
Adaptation and Agriculture Day
This session will feature the launch of the Cop27 Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation initiative, which aims to increase climate finance contributions for agriculture and food systems.
The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, a global initiative led by the UAE and the US with the support of more than 140 government and non-government partners, set a target of doubling investment commitments pledged last year from $4bn to $8bn by Cop27.
The discussion will also look at using artificial intelligence and data analytics in early warning systems to minimise the damage of climate catastrophes, such as droughts and floods. Food security will be in the spotlight as well.
This day will bring together women leading climate dialogues and implementation at local, country, regional and global levels.
“Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change, which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihoods, health and safety,” according to UN Women.
Globally, 388 million women and girls will be living in extreme poverty this year, compared to 372 million men and boys, projections from UN agencies and the Pardee Centre for International Futures show.
Another Cop27 initiative, Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience, will be unveiled on Water Day. One of its goals is 50 per cent less damage from floods and droughts by 2030, and the focus will be on Africa first.
Water security and the impacts of rising sea levels will also be on the agenda.
Ace and Civil Society Day
Action for Climate Empowerment refers to work in the sphere of education, training and public awareness. The role of civil society is this day’s focal point.
Nearly every thematic day has an African focus element and energy day is no exception. The session will include the launch of a Cop27 initiative for a “just and affordable energy transition” in the continent.
Green hydrogen will be highlighted as a key enabler in the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
This session will examine the interdependence of biodiversity and climate change by presenting the latest scientific research and nature-based solutions.
It will also look at the progress made for the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, signed by 145 countries.
An estimated 23 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity between 2007 and 2016 came from agriculture, forestry and other land use, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
On November 17, Cop27 will wrap up with Solutions Day. Elements include success stories of green entrepreneurs and the private sector, such as low-carbon sustainable transport.
Housing and urban ministers will discuss urbanisation and climate change, as Cairo is set to host the UN’s World Urban Forum in 2024.
Finally, the Cop27 presidency will launch the 50by2050 initiative with the goal of recycling 50 per cent of Africa’s waste by 2050.