The EU prepares for COP27

4 November 2022

The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) will soon kick off in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. This year’s COP, which will take place from 6-18 November, will bring parties from across the globe together for discussions on how to tackle climate change and accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Under the Egyptian Presidency, the goal of COP27 is to move from negotiations and planning to actual implementation. The immediacy and dangers of the climate crisis requires “bold and rapid collective action” according to the Presidency. 

As an important global player in the fight against climate change, the EU will be represented at COP27 by various EU leaders, including Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. A delegation of MEPs will also be in attendance for part of the conference. EU Heads of State and Government, including the recently appointed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, are also among those expected to be in attendance. 

As with previous COP conferences, the EU will again this year seek to demonstrate its leadership, credibility and solidarity on the global stage as the world seeks to tackle the climate crisis. After a series of tense discussions between Member States, the EU’s Environment Ministers agreed their negotiating position ahead of COP27 on 24 October. 

The two most controversial issues throughout the negotiations were first, the wording on global efforts to phase out coal, and second, how to update Europe’s ambition in light of the Fit for 55 package, the EU’s flagship climate and environment legislative package which is the currently going through the legislative process.  In this regard, Ministers agreed under the approved text that the EU aims to “conclude the essential elements” of the Fit for 55 Package “by the end of 2022”. With an inter-institutional agreement reached last month on legislation that will ensure all new cars and vans in the EU are zero-emissions by 2035, the EU has taken the first step in its adoption of the Fit for 55 package. 

The European Parliament made its priorities for the upcoming conference clear with its adoption of a resolutionoutlining its demands on 20 October. MEPs consider the “climate and biodiversity crises among the most important challenges facing humanity” today. 

Meanwhile, the issue of climate finance for poor countries is likely to be one of the most contentious topics during COP27. Once again, the world’s wealthiest countries will fall short of their annual pledge to provide $100 billion in climate aid to developing nations this year. With countries now expected to meet the goal in 2023, the target will be reached three years later than the original deadline, pointing to a growing financial gap. As the world’s largest contributor of financial assistance, the EU and its Member States have committed to engaging with “other donors to encourage them to increase their own contributions and deliver” by 2023. 

COP is often criticised as ineffective and described as just a talking shop. COP26, hosted in Glasgow last year, was criticised by many after the language of the final text was significantly watered down, resulting in an arguably very weak and ineffective text. 

All eyes and ears will now be on Egypt to see if leaders can manage to make a greater effort in the global fight against climate change. Egypt, the host of COP27, is home to one of the regions most effected by climate change in the world. The Mediterranean basin is now warming 20% faster than the global average. As one of the global climate change hotspots, some 250 million people in the area are projected to be considered “water poor” within the next 20 years. Thus, only time will tell if the setting of this year’s COP will encourage out world’s leaders to be more ambitious and bold in the climate commitments.