Article image

“On a highway to climate hell:” COP27 begins in Egypt

On Sunday, November 6, 2022, COP27 – the world’s largest climate summit – began in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Europe’s consequent energy crisis casting an ominous shadow over the first talks. On Monday, the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, set the tone of the conference, warning that our planet is “on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” and we “are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing.”

According to several presidents and prime ministers who spoke at the beginning of the summit, unlike in the previous years, our vicious attacks on the world’s climate are now compounded by the humanitarian and economic crises caused by the Ukraine war that are currently taking a toll on every continent, hitting the world’s most vulnerable populations the hardest.

“Putin’s abhorrent war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices across the world, are not a reason to go slow on climate change,” said UK’s new prime minister Rishi Sunak. “They are a reason to act faster.” As France’s president Emanuel Macron stressed too, this war should not change countries’ firm commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Highly unsettling new data from the World Meteorological Organization showed that the Earth has faced its warmest eight years on record, and that rich, industrialized countries are contributing the most to emissions, while the poorer countries must face the hardest consequences. To put a halt to this situation, environmental groups called for a “fossil fuel nonproliferation treaty” aimed to put an end to all new oil, gas, and coal projects, and asked for immediate “loss and damage” compensation from the world’s biggest polluters to the most vulnerable countries.

Switzerland, one of the richest countries in the world, proposed an ambitious climate goal to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. However, instead of planning to reduce these emissions within their own borders, they aim to pay poorer countries, such as Ghana and Dominica, to install sustainable energy sources in order to reduce their own emissions.

A matter of heated debate at the beginning of the summit was the decision to include Coca-Cola as a major sponsor of this year’s event, regardless of the fact that the corporation’s production of plastics is currently increasing. In an online petition, which gathered over 238,000 signatures before the summit, Georgia Elliot-Smith, a delegate from last year’s conference, called to revoke Coke’s sponsorship, by arguing that the company is suffocating our planet with plastic and keeps us addicted to disposable plastic.

Towards the end of the first series of talks, Mr. Guterres called for countries to extend the reach of early warning systems that could help people get from the harm’s way when extreme weather events occur. “Universal early warning coverage can save lives and deliver huge financial benefits. Just 24 hours’ notice of an impending hazardous event can cut damage by 30 percent,” he concluded.

Finally, in his own opening remarks, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, asked world leaders to act with extreme urgency to meet their commitments. “There is no time to slip back. There is no space for hesitation. For the sake of future generations, here and now we are facing a unique historical moment, a last chance to meet our responsibilities,” he concluded.

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day