The insider’s guide to COP27

Madrid / 4 November 2022

In a year of unprecedented threats, both from climate change and Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, the United Nations Climate Change Conference –commonly known as COP (the Conference of the Parties) meets for its 27th iteration–.

Spanning two weeks, from 7th to 18th November, the coastal resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt will host representatives from over 190 nations, including 90 heads of state, for crucial discussions and planning on how to mitigate the climate emergency.

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Instigated in 1995, when climate change was perceived as being a threat of such significance that it would require a pan-nation and United Nations approach to solving it through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992, COP is organized yearly and with periodic milestones, to evaluate progress towards solution. The last COP summit was held in Glasgow, Scotland and the most recent milestone was the Paris Agreement of 2015.

While COP has no formal, binding powers of its own, it is an assembly where all concerned parties with halting climate change – governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and charities – can meet face to face and create the solutions necessary for the issues facing the planet.

The year 2022 has seen unprecedented examples of climate change; devastating floods in Pakistan, wildfires in the USA and across Southern Europe, and droughts from Germany to China. Compounding these catastrophes has been Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, which has highlighted the risks of energy dependence on fossil fuels, and more particularly, fossil fuels derived from one region.

All of these issues, and many associated and complementary ones will be the subject of discussion throughout COP27. The agenda devotes individual days to a topic, ranging in scope from subjects as diverse as Adaption & Agriculture, to Gender.

To cater for the presentations, lectures, discussions as well as the policy and planning discussions happening between delegates, COP27 is divided into two zones: Blue and Green.

The Blue zone is what is commonly understood about COP – it is the United Nations-managed area in the conference, where nations and diplomats discuss the actions they intend to take to honour their commitments to the reduction of their carbon emissions. These formal obligations are known as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and reflect the actions that each nation is considered able to take due to its relative wealth and position in industrial evolution.

Less well known and understood is the Green Zone. Open to the public, this is where the all other, non-governmental business takes place and where the lectures and presentations from academics, business leaders and other stakeholders take place. Interestingly, for the duration of the summit, the Blue Zone is managed by the United Nations and therefore subject to international, and not Egyptian law. 

Siemens Gamesa, as a global and pioneer leader from the wind industry, will be present in the Blue zone, together with a GWEC led initiative, and also has joined the Danish and the Spanish pavilions.

While the company is working with governments around the world to deliver solutions to lessen carbon emissions and bring clean and competitive energy security, it also has representatives that will be sharing knowledge and experience through panel discussions, presentations and lecture. 

Every COP has a different ‘character’ and expectations; the expectation for COP27 is one of swift action and decision-making on the path to net zero and <1.5°C.  This will present itself through smaller industrialised/industrialising and less-wealthy countries working with wealthier, fully industrialised (and now decarbonising) countries to secure the funding and expertise necessary to decarbonise their labour-intensive heavy industry, and to modernise and decarbonise their energy networks.

Many of these smaller countries are in vulnerable or low-lying regions of the world where failure to decarbonise presents an existential threat to them and their populations.

Targets have been set for net zero by 2050, which would appear ample time to simply replace energy generation methods, but in reality every passing day lost represents an increase in both the urgency of action and the threat of inaction.

This should be the COP of implementation, by means of collaboration: between regions, countries, and the public and private sector.

COP27 represents a golden opportunity, and it is now or never.  


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