Barely emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic, this year the world was turned upside-down into a new geopolitical reality by the first war in Europe in decades. Within this new reality and the ensuing global crisis, COP27 was seen by some as an “oasis of diplomacy”, to quote US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm – a space where countries could come together to act on the global challenge that is climate change. But while countries did come together in some landmark agreements, they left Sharm-el-Sheikh without much progress on actual action to mitigate climate change.
The Conference of Parties (COP) is the yearly gathering of parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the world’s biggest diplomatic effort on climate change. Its path to date has been anything but steady, with landmark commitments such as the Paris Agreement being followed by messy discussions on implementation – all this while scientific reports on the disastrous state of the climate have been increasing in urgency. Last year’s COP26 in Glasgow set the tone for a “new normal” in which a few significant agreements were accompanied by a stark lack of practical commitments to implement them. Under this year’s energy crisis and a related dash for fossil fuels, achieving practical commitments on mitigating climate change was ever-more challenging at COP27.