Climate catastrophe: World climate conference COP27 opened in Sharm el Sheikh

The world climate conference COP27 opened in Egypt, overshadowed by several crises, including in the areas of energy and food.

Climate catastrophe: World climate conference COP27 opened in Sharm el Sheikh

The world climate conference COP27 opened in Egypt, overshadowed by several crises, including in the areas of energy and food. At the formal start in the seaside resort of Sharm el Sheikh on Sunday, the President of last year's COP26 conference in Glasgow, Alok Sharma, spoke first.

"I fully recognize the scale of the challenge that lies ahead," said Sharma. Whole regions of the world have now become uninhabitable and the pressure on many people who have to relocate is almost unimaginable. "This conference must be about concrete action," Sharma said.

Shortly before the start of the COP27, Germany identified the containment of global warming as its top priority. "Humanity is heading for an abyss, for a warming of over 2.5 degrees, with devastating effects on our lives on the only planet we have," said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) on Sunday. The world has "all the necessary instruments at hand to limit the climate crisis and get on the 1.5 degree path".

40,000 participants are expected at this year's conference, which is being held in Africa for the first time since 2016. Representatives from almost 200 countries are negotiating in Sharm el Sheikh for two weeks on how the fight against global warming can be intensified. Time is of the essence, as the past seven years have been the warmest since weather records began. Extreme weather events in Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia, among others, have recently shown the enormous damage and deadly destructive power of climate change.

1.5 degree target far away

According to researchers, global emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases must be reduced by around half by 2030. There is no other way to achieve the goal jointly agreed at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015 of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. According to the climate protection plans currently presented by the states, however, they would even increase further.

Despite the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, 2022 "must not be a lost year for climate protection. For many states, it is about the survival of their population and their culture," said Baerbock with the ministries for economy, development and the environment. "For them, the climate crisis is still the most important security issue, not Russia's war in Europe." These states would expect more solidarity from the rich countries.

Subdued expectations for climate conference

Because of the ongoing war in Europe, but also because of the energy, food and economic crises associated with it, as well as growing national debt, expectations of the climate conference are rather subdued - also compared to the COP26 a year ago in Glasgow. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier assessed the chances of success as low. The renowned climate economist Ottmar Edenhofer and climate researcher Mojib Latif also gave up their resignation.

Before the start of the conference, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Luise Amtsberg, called for the release of political prisoners in Egypt. "Taking global responsibility means, above all, taking responsibility for the protection of human rights. However, the human rights situation in Egypt does not do justice to this," Amtsberg criticized, as the Foreign Office in Berlin announced on Sunday.

The conference was due to formally open on Sunday morning with a handover from British COP26 President Alok Sharma to his successor, Egypt's Foreign Minister Samih Schukri. From Monday, around 100 heads of state and government are expected on the Red Sea, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US President Joe Biden. With China's head of state Xi Jinping and India's prime minister Narendra Modi, whose countries, together with the USA, are among the largest CO2 emitters, two of the most important leading figures will be absent from the conference. Russia's President Vladimir Putin is also not taking part.