Upwards of 35,000 will be in attendance in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, November 6-18 for the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27), a gathering of NGOs, activists, world leaders, negotiators, and journalists. The 193 participating countries have signed on to one or more of the major climate change agreements: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, or the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement, which was signed in 2015 by 193 participants, is a legally binding document that calls on governments to commit to actions that limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Every five years, these pledges are evaluated and revised using a “rachet mechanism.” When the mechanism was employed for the first time at COP26 in Glasgow, governments were told their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) (climate pledges) were insufficient. They were instructed to come up with more ambitious NDCs by COP27.

Heading into COP27, only 24 countries out of 193 have updated their climate plans, according to the UN Synthesis Report

In a UNFCCC report last week Climate Plans Remain Insufficient: More Ambitious Action Needed Now, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Simon Stiell said that “the downward trend in emissions expected by 2030 shows that nations have made some progress this year. But the science is clear and so are our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. We are still nowhere near the scale and pace of emission reductions required to put us on track toward a 1.5 degrees Celsius world. To keep this goal alive, national governments need to strengthen their climate action plans now and implement them in the next eight years.”

“Government decisions and actions must reflect the level of urgency, the gravity of the threats we are facing, and the shortness of the time we have remaining to avoid the devastating consequences of runaway climate change.”

From a Reuter’s article Explainer: COP27: Conversations to watch at the climate summit:

As countries in the Global North backslide in their efforts to phase out fossil fuels, China has approved new coal mines and coal production is rising in Vietnam and Indonesia, look for Africa to demand the right to develop fossil fuel reserves.

Loss and damage, or reparation for losses from climate-related disasters, once again holds a prominent place at this year’s COP, with developing countries lobbying for a specific funding mechanism. Richer countries like the US and the EU are in favor of committing money but do not support creating a specific fund.

Despite the fact that only $80 billion in climate finance was pledged to the Green Climate Fund to help poorer and vulnerable countries adapt to climate change, discussions will occur on whether to increase the funding from the current call for $100 billion.

In Glasgow last year, poor and vulnerable countries were able to secure a pledge that adaptation funding would double by 2025. The U.N. Trade and Development office expects adaptation to cost close to $300 billion in 2030.

High-level officials are suggesting that multinational development banks address climate change challenges globally rather than focusing on individual countries. Poorer nations (both lower- and middle-income) could avoid paying high-interest rates through grants and concessional loans.

U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry said in a speech last month that reforms would be crucial to “address the crisis of this moment,” and that there were proposals that could “unlock several hundred billion dollars in additional MDB [multinational development bank] lending capacity without requiring new shareholder capital” and without risking credit rating downgrades.

The Stockholm Environment Institute, in its overview of the key issues that need to be addressed at COP27, said the conference must be inspired by trust:

Trust that countries reduce emissions to the extent they pledged to do. Trust that net zero pledges result in rapid and deep emission cuts instead of overly relying on technical solutions to net emissions in a more distant future. Trust that richer nations deliver on their promises to mobilise the money that developing countries need to embark on zero-carbon development pathways, and to adapt to the ever more devastating impacts of climate change. Trust that the multilateral system does not leave behind the most vulnerable that are the hardest hit, have the least capacity to adapt, and that have themselves emitted least to the emissions causing climate change.

This will be an Africa COP, SEI suggests, noting that the large continent has numerous countries which are most vulnerable to climate change, least developed and thus less prepared to adapt to climate change impacts, and have contributed very little to the GHG emissions.

The current economic, energy, and food crises compound the challenges Africa is facing.

But in addition to the expectation that COP “delivers for Africa”, COP27 also offers an opportunity for African countries to show the way on how to achieve climate-friendly environmental, social and economic development.