World rallies to stem climate change crisis

COP27 leaders meeting

(From Left to Right) US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meet on the sidelines of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh on November 7, 2022.

Photo credit: Ludovic Marin | AFP

Sharm el-Sheikh , Egypt 

The 27th session of the annual United Nations climate change conference has kicked off in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, with calls for world leaders to take immediate action to save the world from the impacts of climate change.

As Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry took over the Conference of Parties (COP) Presidency, the summit agreed to discuss financing to help vulnerable nations, such as Kenya, cope with the impacts of losses and damage.

“The inclusion of this agenda reflects a sense of solidarity and empathy for the suffering of the victims of climate-induced disasters. And, to this end, we all owe a debt of gratitude to activists and civil society organisations who have persistently demanded the space to discuss funding for loss and damage and thus provided the impetus needed to bring this matter forward,” he said at the opening plenary.

Loss and damage are one of Africa’s priority areas. As the continent continues to suffer serious impacts of climate change, the entire Horn of Africa is stuck in the worst drought in 40 years, which has already killed more than 200 elephants and two million heads of livestock in Kenya alone. 

In Nigeria, more than 500 people have been killed in flooding just this year, homes lost and infrastructure destroyed. Such losses and damages are what Africa is seeking compensation for.

‘Funding arrangements’

“I particularly welcome the agreement of the parties a new agenda item on funding arrangements to respond to loss and damage. This creates, for the first time, an institutionally stable space on the formal agenda of the COP and the Paris Agreement the pressing issue of funding arrangements needed to deal with existing gaps and responding to loss and damage,” Mr Shoukry added.

And, as the summit now faces a long two weeks of tough negotiations, the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organisation has painted a grim picture of what a warming world will look like, if this COP fails to take the action needed to mitigate climate change.

The report, titled “State of Global Climate”, indicates that, if 2022 continues on the projections it’s on, then each of the last eight years will be the hottest years ever recorded.

Around the world, heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise and droughts have intensified, pushing the world towards a nearly 30C temperature rise by the end of the century. The report goes further to document the impacts of climate change around the globe, including the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa.

This report is expected to inform the discussions over the next two weeks as poor countries seek to push rich countries to take responsibility for causing climate change and compensate them for the losses they suffer as a result.

 There are 175 agenda items on the table, which will be negotiated on by the 194 countries attending COP27. 

Kenya has grouped the 175 agenda items into 11 priority areas, among them the recognition of Africa’s special needs and circumstances, financing for loss and damage and emphasis on adaptation to enable the country to build the required resilience to survive a warming world. 

The United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change has called on the delegates to build on the momentum set by the COP26 conference last year and deliver an agreement that listens to the science.