The United Nations COP27 Climate Change Conference kicked off in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, this week, with a leaders’ summit Monday and Tuesday, followed by 10 days of conferences, assemblies and negotiating sessions designed to hammer out further agreement on a range of priority issues to tackle the climate crisis.
The conference caps off a year of contrasts when it comes to climate action. On one hand, 2022 has been marked by dramatic progress when it comes to the climate ambitions of several high-emission states. In August, the U.S. under President Joe Biden passed its first major climate legislation in the form of the $370 billion clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. And in September, after years of being a climate laggard under successive Liberal governments, Australia under the recently elected Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese passed ambitious climate legislation to drastically cut emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
On the other hand, however, the year saw a series of extreme weather events, from heatwaves in Europe and the U.S. to flooding in Pakistan and West Africa, that reinforced the sense of urgency over a climate crisis that is no longer in the distant or even near future, but already upon us. And while the moves to curb emissions and accelerate the shift to clean energy are welcome, they are not enough to keep average temperature increases from provoking the more alarming scenarios projected by climate researchers.