Sameh Shoukry, President of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27), on Sunday emphasised the need to urgently implement climate change pledges and commitment.
“That is why we have constantly called for moving from negotiations and pledges to an era of implementation as a priority as well as the acceleration of implementation of what we have agreed upon with the UNFCCC promoted in the parties accord and the work programme while stating the importance of scaling up ambitions and aligning them to country’s capacities and resources,” he said.
He said this at the opening ceremony of the global climate change conference which is taking place in the city of Sharm El Sheikh from 6-18 November with more than 100 world leaders, including President Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak, due to attend.
“…it is clear to all of us that our conference this year is held amidst political tensions that left a deep impact on all our countries…,” Mr Shoukry said. “I invite you all to show the whole world that we are aware of the challenges awaiting us and we have the political will to counter it.”
He congratulated parties who have updated their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) while also calling on countries who have yet to update theirs, to do so.
Of 194 countries signed up to the UNFCCC, only 26 countries have updated their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) despite agreeing at Glasgow to revisit and strengthen their commitments by 2022.
Of the 24, Australia, Norway, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates submitted stronger targets; Brazil, the UK, Indonesia, Egypt and Brazil did not increase their targets. A total of 14 countries including Sudan, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, Gabon, Serbia, Bolivia and others submitted new NDCs.
“The current level of ambition is not up to the Paris goals…For the sake of an efficient implementation of pledges and commitments, we need more efficient and wider participation by all relevant parties…,” he pleaded.
Mr Shoukry noted the importance of private-public partnerships in achieving climate goals.
Furthermore, he noted that climate change-related efforts over the past decades were remarkably polarised which has slowed down the progress of the negotiations.
Current mobilisation efforts raise many concerns, he said; the $100 billion yearly pledge has yet to be implemented, also the financing currently available focuses on curbing emissions and not adaptation efforts and most of the financing is based on loans.
“I believe that you agree with me that we do not have the luxury of continuing this way, we have to change our approaches to this existential threat, we have to work diligently and honestly and listen to one another,” Mr Shoukry said.
Wealthy nations have failed to meet their financial obligations; they had promised a yearly $100 billion in financing since 2009 but have yet to make good on this promise.
Mr Shoukry was elected president of COP27 at the opening ceremony by acclamation.
Other leaders speak tough
Alok Sharma, Mr Shoukry’s predecessor, in his remarks warned that the world is currently not on the path to keeping the global temperature at the required 1.5c.
“How many more wake-up calls do world leaders actually need?” he asked, citing cases of floods in Nigeria, and earthquakes in Pakistan among other climate-related disasters.
The conference must be about concrete actions, he said. He added that he hopes world leaders joining the conference will explain clearly what their countries have achieved last year and how they would go further.
“It is simply a matter of trust,” Mr Sharma said. “Without its constituent members delivering on their commitments and agreeing to go further, the entire system falters.”
He expressed his willingness to support the Egyptian presidency of the COP.
Speaking on the $100 billion yearly financing, he said, “I hear the criticisms and I agree that more must be done by governments and the multilateral development banks including on doubling adaptation and finance by 2025 and establishing a post-2025 goal.”
However, he remains hopeful given where the world was before and where it is at the moment.
“With thanks to all of you, the UK’s presidency ends as a demonstration that progress is possible, it is happening and it is continuing. Yes, we need to accelerate that progress in the remainder of the decisive decade but I believe fundamentally that we can; we know what we need to do to keep 1.5c alive, we know how to do it and Sameh, you and your team have our full support. So now friends, let us make sure we deliver, let us make it happen,” Mr Sharma said.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Simon Steill, in his remarks said COP 27 marks the beginning of a new era and “we begin to do things differently.”
He said while other COPs gave the world a plan and an agreement, Sharm El Sheik shifts parties to implementation. “No one can be a mere passenger on this journey. This is a signal that times have changed.”
“We will be holding people to account, be they presidents, prime ministers or CEOs. An accountability chief if you may because our policies, businesses, infrastructures, our actions, be they personal or public must be aligned with the Paris agreement and with the convention,” Mr Steill said.
The heart of implementation is everybody doing everything they can to address the climate crisis.
He emphasised the need to not allow positioning to block progress as everyone has to act and the conference in Egypt provides the opportunity.
“I want you to focus on three critical lines of action; we must demonstrate this transformational shift to implementation, putting negotiations into concrete actions, every corner of human activity must align with our Paris agreement and pursuing efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5c,” he said.
He added that “we must cement progress on these critical work streams; mitigation, adaptation, finance and crucially loss and damage… What is set in these negotiation rooms have to reflect in what is happening outside.”
A third line of action, he said, is enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the process.
He urged parties not to rescind their commitments. “Stick to your commitments, build on them here in Egypt. I will not be a custodian of backsliding.”
Mr Steill added that as the world pivots to implementation, women and girls have to be placed at the centre of climate decision-making and action.
The Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Hoesung Lee, reiterated that the world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5c, hence now is the time for collective action.
According to Mr Lee, the IPCC report of this year shows that we have the technology and know how to tackle climate change but are limited by the availability of financing models.
“With increasing warming, losses and damages will increase and additional human and natural systems will be pushed to adaptation limits. Therefore the prerequisite to a successful adaptation is ambitious mitigation to keep global warming within limits,” he said.
He added that adaptation gaps especially in developing countries are particularly driven by widening disparities between the cost of adaptation and financing available for adaptation.
The annual summit rotates among the five UN classified regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, central and eastern Europe, and western Europe.
This is the fifth time Africa is hosting the conference; Morocco (twice), South Africa and Kenya have hosted it.
There are 11 thematic areas for this year’s COP. These are Finance day, Science day, Youth and Future Generation day, Gender day, Decarbonisation day, Adaptation and Agriculture day, Water day, Ace and Civil Society day, Energy day, Biodiversity day and Solution day.
The Egyptian presidency structured the COP27 action agenda with a focus on implementation, aiming to mobilise collective efforts for ambitious emission reductions from different sectors, enhance the transformative adaptation agenda on the ground, enable flows of appropriate finance and deliver on the ground on time and at scale.
Among Nigeria’s numerous national challenges, which do you think the next president should focus on first?
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