COP27: Opening speeches and big promises by world leaders on day one

Photo credit: Markus Spiske (Unsplash)

The annual climate conference kicked off in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday. 

More than 100 world leaders will attend the first two days of the summit. Then big negotiations will be left to environment ministers and senior officials.

The summit began with the president of COP26 in Glasgow, Alok Sharma, handing over the presidency to Egypt’s Sameh Shoukry. Then world leaders assembled onstage for the ‘family photo’.

The UN secretary general António Guterres warned that the world is on the “highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator” in his address to the conference. 

Other climate news: Climate Countdown: What you need to know ahead of COP27

Rishi Sunak, the prime minister of the UK, attended the conference after previously saying that he wanted to only focus on domestic issues in the early days of his premiership. In his speech today he said: “The United Kingdom is delivering on our commitment of £11.6bn and […] we will now triple our funding on adaptation to £1.5bn by 2025.”

Leaders including Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, have said that climate targets should not be sacrificed because of the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

An analysis by Carbon Brief, published before the start of the summit, has shown that the UK, US, Canada and Australia have failed to contribute their fair share of billions of dollars to developing countries to help mitigate the effect of climate change. These findings will likely be discussed at this year’s summit.

Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, was critical of developed countries and the world banks for their lack of significant contribution to help the developing world fight the climate crisis. She said: “Our people, on this earth, deserve better. Our leaders know better. I ask the people of the world and not just the leaders, to hold us accountable and to ask us to act in your name to save this earth.”

Talks this year are set to focus on: implementing The Paris Agreement (signed in 2015 to limit global temperatures from rising more than 1.5C), action on loss and damage for developing countries, and greater transparency on what nations are doing to reach their climate targets.

COP27 is expected to end on Friday 18 November.

Words: Yana Trup | Subbing: Cerah Handsaker

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