COP27: 5 Key Areas To Take Bold And Immediate Action

Published on: 02 November 2022
by Eric Burdon
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Between floods, extreme heat, and devastating hurricanes across the world, these occurrences are grim reminders that nowhere is safe from climate change. In order to combat these changing and developing threats, the Conference of the Parties - otherwise known as COP - comes together, consisting of 198 countries who bring in world leaders, entrepreneurs, activists, CEOs, and more, to discuss what kind of changes can be made to reduce climate change and make an impact.

This year’s summit is to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from the 6-18 November, and will mark a key milestone for multi-stakeholder actions in five key areas. areas that need bold and immediate action not just from those attending the conference, but from the world.

Nature

To begin, we’re not going to be able to prevent the 1.5 degree rise without putting a stop to deforestation, changing the way we use food and land, and protecting the oceans. Even with all of the carbon offsetting programmes and protection programmes in place, it’s obvious that more needs to be done. And the fact those areas are still threatened even with those measures in place shows how ineffective our solutions thus far have been.

Without functioning ecosystems, the foundations of our economies, health, food security, and even our own lives are at risk. Even so, there are still some things in our favour, such as:

  • The fact that a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions come from land use. Therefore, better land management can help in cutting back those areas.

  • Ecosystems are carbon sinks.

  • COP26 made significant advancements to protecting and restoring nature. The Tropical Forest Alliance facilitated 12 agri-companies to commit to stopping commodity-related deforestation.

Food

Our use of food, land and ocean make up over 12% of global GDP and over 40% of all jobs. But even with that size, 828 million people are still starving. And that crisis is only made worse with geopolitical flashpoints, such as the war in Ukraine, causing stretched supply chains, rising prices, and rising energy costs.

Climate change and foodstuffs are linked by cause and effect. As the land continues to be threatened, crops will either be burned, drowned, or uprooted. Either way, it all ends with smaller harvests which will impact the price of food.

In order for food systems to address global needs there has to be strong collaboration across governments, businesses, and smallholders. COP27 is going to focus on scaling solutions to meet this demand in a climate-resilient way. Some areas are:

Water

Flooding and drought are becoming the norm, and more severe, due to climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that 3 billion people are at risk of water scarcity if global temperatures rise by 2 degrees. This will affect Africa and many other climate-vulnerable regions, though drought in Europe this past summer is evidence that “climate-vulnerable” now applies everywhere. Water security is a particular priority, and one of the reasons COP27 is being held in Egypt.

Beyond COP27, water will continue to be prioritised, as world leaders attend the UN 2023 Water Conference next March in New York City to discuss further solutions beyond November.

Industry Decarbonisation

Many places around the world are going through rapid urbanisation and, naturally, this leads to a lot of carbon being emitted through the production of housing and buildings. The R-Cities at COP27 aims to address this, as an “initiative enabling transformational change in cities through support of resilience plans and early implementation of projects”. 

This is a huge point. We’ve known for a while that both the materials (as used in building) and transportation of those materials make up a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. Combined with the global population increase and concurrent trend for more housing, this is a key area to focus on evolving best practices early on in the urban development cycle, particularly so in the context of developing economies where the majority of new cities are being built. 

Climate Adaptation

The 2022 IPCC Report stated that about 3.3 billion people are currently in highly vulnerable climate contexts, and about 10 million people alone have been displaced as a result of floods in Pakistan in September 2022. What this reveals is those who are making the least impact on climate change are those who are suffering disproportionate costs of climate change.

To enact change in small rural communities, there needs to be an overwhelming global response that provides support pathways for those communities to understand how to adapt to climate change appropriately. COP27 will, crucially, continue to focus on negotiations for the plight of small island nations and developing countries, those areas that already need significant resources to begin their response. This will also be an area where partnerships between governments, businesses, investors, and cities and regions will come up with actions towards climate adaptation. The emergence of public-private partnerships as an effective mechanism for accelerating that response is now key to developing realistic strategies. 

It is clear that political ‘willpower’ alone is not the wholesale solution, so forward-thinking economic models, paired with regulatory incentives, will be the most effective approach to making all parties transition faster. The above areas of focus are necessarily diverse, holistic, and cover the macro-trends we are facing at an accelerating pace. COP27 has been hailed, year on year, as the last chance to make progress, yet this has failed to coherently transpire. These 5 key areas offer massive opportunities to re-jig the current economic system towards something more sustainable, yes, but given the accelerating changes we now witness, one would hope that this will indeed be the moment when the devastation is accepted, and that alone enables binding steps to be taken.

What more needs to happen for immediate action to be taken?

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