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COP27: what you need to know

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

On Sunday, the 27th Annual Conference of the Parties (more commonly known as COP) got underway in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

For those who closely follow climate and net zero conversations, the term ‘COP’ will be quite familiar and the conversations that take place at these events will feel familiar. For most though, a primer on who, what, when, where and why with respect to COP27 might be helpful. Let's dig in.

What is a COP?

‘COP’, as mentioned above, stands for “Conference of the Parties”. This is basically a more technical way of saying: “The countries (the ‘Parties’) that have signed on to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will come together and discuss progress (or lack thereof).”

The very first COP took place in March 1995 in Berlin, Germany. Since then, annual conferences of these parties have taken place—we’re now at the 27th such event, which rounds out the acronym of COP27.

Since that first COP meeting, there have been several key milestones where the parties have committed themselves to specific targets and shared goals. Most notable is the Paris Agreement, which was signed by 196 parties at the COP21 conference (in Paris, resulting in the name of the agreement) in 2015.

The Paris Agreement was significant since it marked the first time that a binding agreement among all nations was agreed upon: uniting the world in a common mission to fight climate change. Its goal is straightforward yet difficult: limit global warming to well below 2 °C, with a target of only 1.5 °C as compared to temperatures in pre-industrial times.

COP27 will bring the parties back together to discuss progress, challenges, and negotiate actions that can be taken to keep the goals of the Paris Agreement within reach.

Who is involved?

COP27 will include representatives from the signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (196 governments from countries around the world).

It will also include many interest groups, academics, and representatives from a range of sectors including energy, finance, agriculture and more.

You can check out all the events and discussions that are set to take place at COP27 here.

When is COP27 taking place?

COP27 kicked off on Sunday, November 6th and runs through until November 18th, 2022. It’s a lengthy and full agenda!

Where is COP27 taking place?

COP27 is taking place in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Last year, the conference was held in Glasgow, Scotland—which showcased climate action in that city.

It is significant that an African nation is hosting COP27. Despite accounting for just under 4% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, climate change will disproportionately affect the African continent.

We can expect the setting to have an impact on the conversation with calls for developed nations to contribute funding to support developing nations to combat the effects of climate change.

Why does COP27 matter?

COP27 will be significant. Not only does the conference provide a platform for countries from around the world to update their ‘Nationally Determined Contributions” (for a quick refresher on this term click check out another of our COP blog posts) but it also provides a rallying point for world leaders to act on key goals and a vision for the next year when it comes to climate action.

This year’s COP will focus on:

  1. Mitigation: uniting to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, with a target of only 1.5 °C. This year, COP27 should “witness the implementation of the Glasgow pact call to review ambition in NDCs and create a work program for ambition on mitigation.” In plain terms, all counties should get a little more ambitious when it comes to their own climate goals and emissions reductions targets.

  2. Adaptation: a renewed focus on adapting to the effects of a changing climate. An outcome of the COP26 conference in Glasgow was the Global Goal on Adaptation. COP27 hopes to see this goal result in enhanced action on the topic of adaptation around the world.

  3. Finance: a critical conversation at COP26 was the role of finance and how private and public sectors can come together to finance a clean economy around the world. This will continue at COP27 with a focus on living up to a 2009 commitment from developed countries to contribute $100 billion each year to developing countries to mitigate climate change and fund adaptation initiatives.

  4. Collaboration: COP is the place for world leaders to come together and focus on our shared goal of mitigating the worst effects of climate change—a task that will be impossible without collaboration.

For more on the COP27 conference, check out the COP27 website!


Chad Richards is the Director of the Bruce Power Centre for New Nuclear and Net Zero Partnerships.


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