A delay to the start to the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt on Sunday does not seem to augur well for the so-called conference of the parties. According to reports, there was initial failure on Saturday to find agreement between delegates on whether and how loss and damage--the impact of climate change on the poorest and most vulnerable countries--should be put on the agenda.
With heads of government, including Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel, arriving on Monday for two days of intense talks, the conference is shaping up to be a real challenge. But when COP27 did finally officially open it was with an agreement that funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change would be a major focus.
Alok Sharma, the UK’s president of COP26 officially handed the baton to the new Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, who will preside over COP27 at Sunday morning’s opening plenary. “As challenging as our current moment is, inaction is myopic, and can only defer climate catastrophe, we must find the ability to focus on more than one thing at once”, Sharma said.
Shoukry acknowledge that the negotiations over the next two weeks would be challenging, but will hopefully be fruitful. “I urge all of you to listen carefully and commit to implementation and to turn political commitments into agreements and understandings and texts and resolutions that we can all implement,” Shoukry said. He added that the commitment of $100 billion annually to fight climate change by developed countries to developing countries should be delivered, and finance must be also at the centre of discussion.
Simon Stiell, the new executive secretary of the UN Climate Convention (UNFCCC), also addressed the opening session. “Today a new era begins, and we begin to do things differently,” he told his audience. “Paris gave us the agreement. Katowice and Glasgow gave us the plan. Sharm el-Sheik shifts us to implementation. No one can be a mere passenger on this journey. This is the signal that times have changed.”