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COP27 Summit Kicks Off in Egypt to Tackle Existential Climate Crisis

It's "time to act" stressed Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike at COP27. Tangible and intangible strategic action is needed "to achieve net zero emission by 2050."

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World leaders pose for a group photo at the COP27 summit (© VOA Africa, screenshot)

World leaders are convening in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), scheduled from November 6-18. All eyes are on the heads of state and delegates from 190 countries. Can they hash out ways to mitigate the global temperature rise and prevent an environmental catastrophe?   

The key players in this annual event comprise nations that signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.  

"Together for Implementation" is the core theme shared in this year's conference. Embedded in the message is a caution to the party nations. Especially for the heavy polluters that have consistently fallen short of meeting international agreements and individual promises on reducing carbon emissions. 

"We have a credibility problem... It is a choice to continue this pattern of destructive behaviors," lamented Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and chairman of Climate Reality Project, at the opening ceremony. 

COP27
Al Gore delivers his speech at the opening ceremony (© Guardian News, screenshot)

Why COP27 is Important 

COP27 is crucial and timely for two reasons. First, the protracted war in Ukraine, coupled with the COVID-19 debacle, forced numerous countries to resume coal-fired generation, pushing carbon emissions to record-highs. The geopolitical crisis likewise exposed our susceptibility to energy shortages and the need for cultivating alternative energy sources.  

Another pertinent discussion is the feasibility of achieving the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015. During COP21, 196 countries agreed to constrain average global temperatures to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. Ideally, increases would be confined to 1.5°C (2.7°F). 

To meet these goals, carbon emissions must be slashed by roughly 45% by 2030, reaching net zero by 2050. This requires member states' strict adherence to their Nationally Determined Contributions ー non-binding action plans on target cuts. Though measuring progress is tricky, some experts have serious doubts whether these goals can be achieved. 

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy iterated such concerns via video message, when he said: "There are still many for whom climate change is just rhetoric or marketing or political ritual." 

Read the rest of this article here to learn about what's going on at COP27. And find more great articles on the environment and the challenges of achieving the SDGs, on our new website Japan 2 Earth (J2E), sparking a transition to the future.

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Author: Kenji Yoshida

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