What is important to know about the international climate negotiations is that it has been able to achieve ambition rise without being a prescriptive or sanctioning process. Parties’ efforts have been increasing over time due to the centrifugal force of the Paris Agreement.
On the first official day of COP27, at the opening plenary, Alok Sharma, the President of COP26, emphasised that we forged together the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP). Collectively we achieved something historic and hopeful. The GCP paved the way for COP27 in Egypt, as we kept the 1.5 degrees alive. The system is delivering. Despite the progress we have made, the scale of the challenge is still huge before us. How many wake-up calls does the world actually need? The climate crisis we are facing today has become almost unimaginable, so we have to make sure we deliver.
After him, the elected COP27 President, Sameh Shoukry continued by saying that today we continue our 30-year journey. This journey is continuous, we are more aware of science and we are more convinced about what we should do to overcome climate change. However, we need to progress more into the era of implementation. Without a radical change, future generations will face more challenges. Our conference is held among political tensions and energy/food crises. We have to scale up our ambitions. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) synthesis report revealed that the current level of ambition was not enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. The 100 billion US dollars Goal has not been delivered and most of the financing is based on loans. We do not have the luxury to continue like this. We have to reach consensual solutions that can be implemented without leaving anybody behind. Zero-sum games would have no winners. Our decisions will affect the lives of millions of people on Earth. We cannot afford any negligence or shortcomings in the future.
Simon Stiell, the executive director of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) added that today a new era began. Sharm el Sheik shifts us to implementation. He was often told in his childhood that one person could not make a difference, but as Nelson Mandela said, it always seems impossible until it is done. Our policies and our infrastructure must be aligned with the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Those who are not inclined to do anything cannot slow down the collective process anymore. He was asking Parties three things to deliver on:
- we need to put negotiations into concrete actions to limit global temperature rise within 1.5 degrees;
- we must cement progress on critical work systems: mitigation, adaptation, finance and crucially loss and damage. We must build bridges;
- we must enhance the delivery of transparency, accountability and environmental integrity in the process.
He also emphasised that only 29 countries came forward with strengthened NDCs and not 194. He firmly expects all Parties to stick to their commitments, as he will not support backsliding. He added that women and girls have to be placed in the centre of climate decision-making and action.
The opening speeches were closed by Hoesung Lee, the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He said that the voice of climate change could not be sharper and more sobering. The time for collective action is now. With increasing warming losses and damages will increase. In the meantime progress on the financial flows remains low. Although financial cooperation is a critical enabler of low emission and just transition. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save our planet and livelihoods. The scientific community remains ready to support the UNFCCC every step of the way in this journey. Our planet deserves nothing less.
Photo: Dr Barbara Botos.