The response to climate change at the international level is coordinated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Each year, delegates from over 190 countries meet at the Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss and to promote the mitigation of climate change, the adaptation to a changing climate and the support given to developing countries. This year, the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6 to 18 November 2022.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and main treaties adopted to date
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
The objective of the UNFCCC was to stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
Parties to the Convention commit to implementing measures to mitigate climate change and to facilitating adequate adaptation to its effects. Following the 1992 Rio Conference, most countries signed and ratified the Convention and currently it has 198 Parties.
After the entry into force of the Convention in 1994, its first Conference of the Parties (COP) convened in 1995. From 1995 onwards, climate change conferences took place annually with the exception of 2020 when the conference was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. Currently, there are 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. This Protocol operationalizes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing industrialized countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gasses (GHG) emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets. The Convention asks those countries to adopt policies and measures on mitigation and to report periodically.
One important element of the Kyoto Protocol was the establishment of flexible market mechanisms, which are based on the trade of emissions permits. Under the Protocol, countries must meet their targets primarily through national measures. However, the same Protocol also offers them an additional means to meet their targets by way of three market-based mechanisms: International Emissions Trading, Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint implementation (JI).These mechanisms ideally encourage GHG abatement to start where it is most cost-effective, for example, in the developing world. It does not matter where emissions are reduced, as long as they are removed from the atmosphere. In addition, the Protocol established a rigorous monitoring, review and verification system, as well as a compliance system to ensure transparency and hold Parties to account. Under the Protocol, actual emissions of countries have to be monitored and precise records have to be kept of the trades carried out.
The Paris Agreement instead was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015 and entered into force on 4 November 2016. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. The Paris Agreement is a landmark in the multilateral climate change process because for the first time a binding agreement brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
Tematic Days of COP27
On the occasion of cop27, Egypt has designated several thematic days for focused discussions, including through side events, panel discussions, round tables and other interactive formats to deliberate on and share with the audience. In particular the thematic days will be the following: Finance Day, Science Day, Youth and Future Generations Day, Decarbonization Day, Adaptation and Agriculture Day, Gender Day, Water Day, Energy Day, Ace and Civil Society Day, Biodiversity Day, Solutions day.
9/11 The Finance day: The Finance day will address several aspects of the climate finance ecosystem including innovative and blended finance and financial instruments, tools and policies that has the potential to enhance access, scale up finance and contribute to the transition envisaged and needed, including those related to debt for environment swaps. The Finance day will also feature the holding of one or more of the mandated events including the Ministerial finance roundtable.
10/11 The Science day: The Science day would comprise panel discussions and events to bring forward the outcomes of the reports and their recommendations and further enhance engagement of the climate community, practitioners and different stakeholders to discuss and engage on the linkages and findings related to climate change. It will provide an opportunity to engage with the science community and academia and bring their views into the conversation so as to ensure that all work and action is based on solid, credible science, and further discuss roles of academia in support for global action to tackle climate change.
10/11 Youth and Future Generations day:The day will provide an opportunity to showcase youth success stories and challenges and will allow for interaction with policymakers and practitioners.
11/11 Decarbonization day: The day would provide an opportunity to discuss such approaches and policies, and to showcase technologies with an aim to encourage and facilitate the much-needed transition and paradigm shift towards a low carbon economy.
12/11 Adaptation and Agriculture day: Adaptation and Resilience are of crucial importance to all parties and in particular developing countries. In a time of increased food insecurity, it is important to have deep discussions on ways to deal with food security, increase agriculture productivity, reduce losses in food production chain, enhance resilience and livelihoods for small scale farmers and ensure measures are in place for sustained food security and to manage any potential food crises. Adaptation day will also provide an opportunity to discuss issues such as agriculture, nutrition, coastal areas livelihoods and protection, Loss and Damage, Disaster Risk Reduction, and solutions to building resilience of agriculture and food systems to adverse climate impacts.
14/11 Gender day: The role of women in dealing with all aspects of the climate change challenge is central, crucial and indispensable. Women continue to bear a disproportionate burden from the adverse impacts of climate change, and despite some progress having been made over recent years, the gender perspective needs further work to be fully integrated into the processes of formulating and implementing policies and actions on the ground. In addition,women have been among the segments most affected by the devastating impact of COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating their situation facing the effects of climate change. In this context, the Gender Day aims to bring this issue to the forefront and to provide a platform to discuss existing challenges and to share success stories from around the world with a view to increasing awareness and sharing experiences and promoting gender sensitive and responsive policies, strategies and actions.
14/11 Water day: Water is the source of life and livelihoods. Climate impacts on water and the linkages to wider, cross cutting impacts on development and livelihoods are well documented and substantiated by credible scientific reports and analyses including most recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other institutions. Discussions at the Water Day will cover all issues related to sustainable water resource management. The water day will comprise the different topics of water scarcity, drought, cross boundary cooperation and improvement of early warning systems.
15/11 Ace and Civil Society day: Civil Society is an indispensable partner in the global effort to combat climate change. With this in mind COP27 will hold a dedicated day to engage Civil Society and to ensure their views and perspectives are integrated in a meaningful manner. Participants will have a platform for sharing best practices and identifying challenges, as well as networking and developing multi-stakeholder partnership opportunities.
16/11 Energy day: The Energy Day would deal with all aspects of energy and climate change, including renewable energy and energy transformation, with a specific focus on just transition in the energy sector and green hydrogen as a potential energy source for the future. It would also include energy efficiency and ways to manage the envisaged global just transition in energy.
17/11 Biodiversity day: The day would deal with nature and ecosystem-based solutions. It would also allow the discussion about the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and the means to mobilize the global actions towards the challenges to halt biodiversity loss and to reduce the impacts of climate change and pollution. The discussions would also include the impacts of climate change on oceans and the impacts of plastic waste on aquatic ecosystems and species.
18/11 Solutions day: government representatives and businesses and innovators will share their experiences and their ideas with the aim of spreading awareness, sharing experiences and best practices and also building future alliances and collaborations.
Stakeholders in the negotiations and their main calls
Stakeholders in negotiations are the following: The Group of 77 and China, The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), The Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), The Umbrella Group, The group of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America(ALBA), The Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC),The group of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay (ABU), The Arab Group, The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) and The European Union.
The Group of 77 (G-77) was founded by 77 developing countries at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 1967. Since then, the group has grown to 134 members and in climate change negotiations China associates itself with the group. Hence, the G-77 and China group is the largest group of Parties at UNFCCC negotiations. Like other groups of developing countries, the G-77 and China emphasize the common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the Convention. Representatives of the group point out that developed countries are responsible for a large share of historical emissions and should take the lead in climate change mitigation.
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) comprises 39 small island and low-lying coastal developing states. Most Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are AOSIS members. Specifically, AOSIS comprises all SIDS which are UN Member States except Bahrain and in addition two SIDS which are not UN Member States but Parties to the UNFCCC, namely the Cook Islands and Niue. As these countries and territories are affected disproportionately by rising sea levels and by extreme weather events, AOSIS is a proponent of ambitious mitigation action. In the negotiations for the Paris Agreement, the introduction of the 1.5°C goal constituted one of the achievements of AOSIS. In general,the group calls for high levels of transparency and environmental integrity and for support such as financial support and capacity building in the area of adaptation.
The Environmental Integrity Group (EIG) consists of three small developed countries which are Liechtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland and three developing/emerging countries which are Mexico, Republic of Korea and Georgia. Members of the EIG call for ambitious mitigation action, including from developing countries, and they are proponents of transparent reporting. The majority of EIG members plan to make use of voluntary cooperation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions.
The Umbrella Group is a coalition of developed countries comprising Australia, Belarus, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, Ukraine and the US. Most of its members have high per-capita greenhouse gas emissions and for this reason some of them are cautious about ambitious mitigation actions and the group generally calls for developing countries to contribute to mitigation actions. This group aims at overcoming the differentiation between developed and developing countries which was introduced in the Convention and calls for high standards of transparency in reporting, both for developed and developing country Parties. As of March 2022, following the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, the Umbrella Group has stopped coordinating with the Russian Federation and Belarus.
The group of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) comprises the following 24 developing countries:Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mali, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Vietnam. This group insists on the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and calls foremost for ambitious action and support from the part of developed countries. The group stresses the historical responsibility of developed countries, as they have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions over the past decades. They also point out the importance of taking into account sustainable development and poverty eradication when addressing climate change.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) is an association of ten Latin American and Caribbean countries with socialist/social democratic governments. This group has played a prominent role in supporting the interests of indigenous peoples in the climate negotiations and was also a proponent of introducing concepts such as “climate justice” in the Paris Agreement and supports the development of non-market approaches to cooperation between Parties.
The Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC) comprises Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. This group aims at bridging divides between developing and developed countries and its members call for ambitious mitigation action not only from developed countries but also from developing countries. AILAC also supports an effective transparency framework for all countries and like other groups of developing countries points out the importance of adaptation action and of financial, technological and capacity building support.
The group of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay (ABU) comprises three important agricultural producers. For these countries, it is important to recognise the specific role of agriculture in mitigation and adaptation. As agricultural activities lead to the emission of specific greenhouse gasses (methane and nitrous oxides) besides carbon dioxide, ABU is active in the discussion on global warming potentials (GWPs) of various greenhouse gasses.
The Arab Group comprises 22 Parties from the Arab Peninsula and Northern Africa. As some of them are important oil and gas producers, the Arab Group pays particular attention to possible impacts of mitigation measures (such as a shift away from fossil fuels) on their economies. The Group was successful in including the concept of “mitigation co-benefits of adaptation actions” into Article 4 of the Paris Agreement.
The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) comprises all 54 African countries which point out the challenges faced by their members in adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change. Hence, the AGN calls for giving the same level of importance in the negotiations to adaptation as to mitigation. In addition, the AGN points out the limited capacities available in African countries and calls for financial, technological and capacity building support.
The European Union, among the groups of Parties, constitutes a special case. The EU is a Party to the UNFCCC and to the Paris Agreement, and the same is true for each of its Member States. Delegates from the EU and its Member States coordinate their position throughout the year and prepare shared positions before each negotiating session. The focus of the EU in the negotiations is on increasing mitigation ambition. The EU also acknowledges the importance of support for developing countries and points out the related efforts by the EU and its Member States. It calls for transparent reporting on both action and support.
Among observer organizations there are: civil society, local and regional governments and international organizations. They may participate in sessions open to observers, make submissions, make statements at high-level segment sessions, organize side events and present their work in the exhibition area.