The United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, begins in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, next week, and climate change activists are pushing major emitters in developed countries to make bigger pledges during the conference.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Programme, the international community is still far from achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, with no credible path to keep the rise in global temperatures below the key threshold. 1.5°C.
Government carbon reduction plans are still insufficient and environmental leaders are calling on developed countries to do more.
“Seventy-five percent of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the G20, the twenty largest economies,” Inger Andersen, executive director of UN Environment, told VOA in an exclusive interview. “They need to do more. And that’s the conversation we need to have at the COP in Sharm el-Sheikh, the COP of Africa as we call it. They need to lean, both with money but also with their own reduction of emissions.”
The conference comes at a time when the Horn of Africa is facing record drought and famine warnings in Somalia. Africa produces less than 4% of global emissions, but is still experiencing the effects of global warming, including food insecurity, increased conflict and more severe weather events.
Thandile Chinyavanhu, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Africa in South Africa, says the effects can be seen across the continent: “in the Horn of Africa where the failed fourth rainy season is driving famine in the country and similarly in the semi-arid regions of Kenya. We see people in Mauritania and Nigeria affected by floods, where these floods have displaced something like 1.3 million people. And we have also seen this in South Africa.
As these disasters continue to affect millions of people, COP27 offers the international community the opportunity to continue negotiations on global goals that would help tackle climate change.
Muhtari Amiku Kano, Africa Director of Policy and Government Relations at the Nature Conservancy in Nairobi, listed three important investments: technology transfer, capacity building and the deployment of adequate financial resources, “because without these three components , it will only be hot air and talk.”
According to Andersen, the way forward is also clear: “We’re seeing that renewable energy; solar power, electric vehicles, energy-efficient buildings, smart infrastructure are becoming the thing. Let’s accelerate that, just get it done. It’s so obvious.”
Scientists say tackling 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 the discussions at the Sharm el-Shiekh conference will be watched closely by many.