COP27: Egyptian foreign minister says goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C 'more fragile' than ever

COP27: Egyptian foreign minister says goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C 'more fragile' than ever
3 min read
29 October, 2022
Egypt's foreign minister, who is set to chair the upcoming COP27 conference, warned that turbulent global events meant that the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C was 'more fragile' than ever.
Sameh Shoukry said developed nations must 'lead by example' when it comes to climate change [source: Getty]

Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry has warned that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade and thereby averting climate catastrophe is a "more fragile" goal than ever before ahead of the COP27 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. 

Shoukry, who will chair the international climate summit starting on November 6, said the "turbulent" global economy and geopolitical tensions exacerbated by Ukraine war created a "challenging" environment for enacting green reform.

He stressed that countries must be "serious" when dealing with the "contradictions" between a more sustainable future and alleviating economic hardship during the current international energy crisis, placing particular emphasis on developed nations to "lead by example". 

"If countries are to backtrack or deviate from their commitments, and their efforts to maintain those agreements and understanding made in Paris and Glasgow, we will be on track to have over 2C and maybe up to 3.6C,"  said Shoukry to The Guardian. 

A recent UN report said that the combined climate pledges of 193 countries under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5C of warming by the end of the century. 

"We have to try to isolate these geopolitical tensions, disagreements, and focus [on] the issue at hand, which is how do we move forward together," the Egyptian foreign minister said. 

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COP27 has been dubbed the "implementation" COP, with its Egyptian hosts placing emphasis on the need to extend and enact green pledges. Discussions over emission reduction targets as well as climate financing between developed and developing nations are set to take centre stage. 

However, human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have expressed concerns over Cairo’s ability to manage such an important conference given Egypt's track record of police brutality and arbitrary detentions.

Currently, a number of countries are not on track to meet their commitments on emissions, and in many cases even if these targets were fulfilled they wouldn’t be enough to cap global warming. 

The UN panel on Climate Change said on Wednesday that a 43 percent reduction in emissions was needed by 2030 to reach 1.5C. The world is currently headed towards a 10 percent increase by 2030. 

"To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years," said Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. 

Shoukry, who referred to these recent stark warnings from climate scientists, said COP27 would "try to isolate and insulate the negotiating process from some of the external circumstances” in order to oversee the realisation of these climate ambitions. 

Responding to questions about the freedom of climate activists to protest at the conference, the Egyptian foreign minister said he was "encouraged by their enthusiasm, by their commitment, by their advocacy".