Climate Change Stories

COP27: Your Guide to the 2022 UN Climate Conference

A girl stands on a tree branch near a city in Egypt. The air is smoky.
Climate change solutions Delegates at COP27 in Egypt will discuss how to meet our collective and individual climate change goals. © Hassan Abdelmoneim/TNC Photo Contest 2022

This November, representatives from nearly 200 countries will come together to coordinate global climate action for the next year—an event referred to as COP27.

If you’ve never heard of COP27, or if you need a refresher, this guide will tell you what to expect from the event, why TNC will be there with staff from over 20 countries around the globe—and what this all means for you.

On the Ground in Egypt: Week 1 at COP27 (2:08) Representatives from nearly 200 countries as well as the private sector and nonprofits have come together to advance global climate action at the UN climate conference, COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Take a look behind the scenes at COP27.

1. What does COP27 mean?

COP27 stands for the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so in this guide we’ll stick with COP; you might also hear this referred to as the UN climate change convention.

The climate COP is an annual meeting of delegates from nearly every country on Earth to negotiate global goals for tackling climate change, present their individual countries’ plans for contributing to those goals, and report on their progress.

COP Goals: A Quick Recap

  • Thermometer icon.

    1.5° C

    The target for limiting global warming to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

  • Cattail icon.

    1/3

    The amount of emission reductions we could realize by protecting and restoring nature.

  • Money icon.

    <10%

    The amount of climate funding currently allocated to nature-based solutions.

Why is COP27 important?

The climate COP meets in a different city every year to demonstrate the importance of global coordination. This year’s meeting will be held November 6-18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. While the overall goal of all these meetings is managing climate change, the specifics can vary each year.

This year’s meeting in Egypt is all about follow through. Last year’s meeting in Glasgow resulted in some ambitious new goals; now countries will get down to the hard work of figuring out how they are going to accomplish the goals they have set—including how to pay for climate action.

A polar bear feeds her two cubs in the harbour of the abandoned Russian settlement, Pyramiden.
Follow Through While COP26 was all about setting goals, COP27 is all about how to accomplish those goals. This includes how to pay for climate action. © Florian Ledoux/TNC Photo Contest
Two people stand in the sand, holding towels in front of their bodies. Behind them is a cement and chainlink wall separating the beach from a large factory.
2022 Topics This year, we expect to hear a lot about adapting to climate change, "loss and damage", and how to limit global warming to 1.5° C. © Janusz Jurek/TNC Photo Contest


2. Here are a few topics we expect to see in the spotlight at COP27:

A flock of Mauritius fody perched on power lines.
Adaptation It's clear we need to focus more on adaptation efforts that protect the people and wildlife most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. © Zeenat Fugurally/TNC Photo Contest 2022

Adapting to climate change

Climate adaptation refers to the ways the world changes in response to the effects of climate change (as opposed to mitigation, which is what we do to prevent further climate change).

To date, adaptation efforts have received far less funding than mitigation. But as the world experiences more frequent and more intense storms, floods, fires and other climate-fueled disasters, it’s become clear we need to focus more on adaptation efforts that protect the people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

A dead Caribbean flamingo floats in a wetland with power lines in the background.
Financing Adaptation “Loss and damage” funds can compensate developing countries for the harm they have suffered already due to climate-driven disasters and finance new adaptation efforts. © Rondel Smith/TNC Photo Contest 2022

“Loss and damage”

Climate-driven disasters are disproportionately harming low- and middle-income countries that have contributed far fewer of the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The UN has proposed that wealthier countries should pay “loss and damage” funds to compensate developing countries for the harm they have suffered already and to finance new adaptation efforts.

So far only Denmark has formally committed any funds, but their declaration could inspire other countries to step up and make commitments at COP27.

Aerial view of an oil refinery in California's San Joaquin Valley.
Not on Track Six years ago at COP21, world leaders agreed to limit warming to 1.5 °C. We're not on track to hit this goal, and world leaders must accelerate their climate plans. © Jassen Todorov/TNC Photo Contest 2022

Keeping hope for 1.5 °C

Six years ago at COP21, world leaders adopted the “Paris Agreement,” a commitment to keep global warming below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit warming to 1.5 °C (2.7°F). This is the target that scientists agree will substantially reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

As of now, we’re not on track to hit this goal, even if all countries succeed in reducing their national emissions at the levels they have pledged. While countries are not due to share updated targets this year, it is possible we’ll see some more ambitious commitments as world leaders accelerate their climate plans to meet the urgency of our moment.



3. Why is TNC at COP27?

We can’t keep the climate in safe boundaries without transitioning to clean energy sources—but we also can’t reach this goal if we don’t invest more in nature.

We know that natural habitats can absorb and store vast amounts of carbon. By protecting, restoring and better managing our lands and wetlands we could realize a third of the emission reductions we need to limit global warming and keep the climate in safe boundaries.

A fan-throated Lizard stands on a rock in front of one of the largest wind farms in Satara's Chalkewadi plateau in India..
Site Wind Right We can’t keep the climate in safe boundaries if we don’t invest more in nature. By protecting, restoring and better managing our lands and wetlands we could realize 1/3 of the emission reductions we need to limit global warming. © Sandesh Kadur/TNC Photo Contest

Nature is also a powerful ally in our adaptation efforts. Habitats like coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands greatly reduce the force of storms, floods and erosion, helping protect coastal communities. Making space for nature within cities can reduce dangerous heatwaves and soak up flood waters. And investing in nature leads to cleaner air and water, healthier soils on our agricultural lands, and many other benefits for people and wildlife.

Yet nature-based solutions receive less than 10% percent of all climate funding. As countries update their climate plans, TNC staff will be at the forefront of negotiations with government and business leaders—including as part of the official delegation for more than 20 different countries. We’ll be advocating for more use of natural climate solutions and greater ambition overall, and offering our scientific expertise to help put solutions into action. We’ll also be working to ensure Indigenous and local community voices are heard, as these are the people who know best how to work with nature in their communities.

Poisonous mushrooms spring from urban lawns after the rain in a city in China.
City Mushrooms Including nature in cities has many benefits for people and wildlife, such as reducing dangerous heatwaves, soaking up flood waters, and cleaner air and water. © 刘 骏杰/TNC Photo Contest 2022
A green sea turtle rests on hard coral reefs with hundreds of fish seemingly looking at her in awe.
Invest in Nature Habitats like coral reefs greatly reduce the force of storms, floods and erosion, helping protect coastal communities. TNC will advocate for natural climate solutions. © Allan Cronin/TNC Photo Contest 2022


4. What can I do to help address climate change?

Coordinated global action is our best hope for keeping the climate within safe boundaries for people. That’s why TNC invests so much effort in pushing for stronger commitments at the COPs and in helping countries deliver on those commitments. But we all have a role to play fighting climate change.

Here's a few things you can do

5. Live from #COP27

Want the latest news from COP27? We’re sharing video and audio updates from our staff who are tracking the negotiations on the ground in Egypt. You can also follow our social handles for more updates on what’s happening at COP27.

  • LinkedIn icon.

    TNC on LinkedIn

    Follow The Nature Conservancy on LinkedIn to get the latest from COP27. Follow on LinkedIn

  • Twitter icon.

    TNC on Twitter

    Follow The Nature Conservancy on Twitter to get the latest from COP27. Follow on Twitter

  • Twitter icon.

    #COP27

    Follow the #COP27 hashtag on Twitter to get the latest from delegates. Follow #COP27

  • Twitter icon.

    #NatureNow

    Follow the #NatureNow hashtag on Twitter to get the latest from delegates. Follow #NatureNow

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6. Dive Deeper on the Issues

Want to learn more about some of the issues being discussed at COP27? In this last section of the guide, we’ve curated key resources to help you stay informed on six of the most important issues at the climate conference.

Climate Adaptation

  • Aerial view of the city of Berlin, with a road dividing a forest leading to the buildings in the city.

    Adapting to a Changing Climate in Europe

    Climate change already has a profound impact on people’s lives across Europe and around the world. One of the more effective solutions for cities is to add more green space. Learn how Berlin adapts.

Climate Adaptation Explained (2:26) Climate change is here and communities around the world need to adapt to the impacts of climate change today. Fortunately, nature is a powerful ally in helping us adapt to our new reality. Watch to find out how.

Indigenous and Local Community Leadership

  • Photo of a man measuring an ancient tree in an old-growth forest in Washington state.

    The Power of North America’s Emerald Edge

    Explore how community, conservation and climate action are coming together in the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest. See Climate Action in the Emerald Edge

Explore the Emerald Edge in 360°

Watch 360° Video (mobile)

Tour the Emerald Edge (360° video) Walk through the lush forests of the Emerald Edge with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and learn about the life-giving force of the cedar tree in 360° in a new immersive experience.

Food and Climate

  • Amar Singh walks along a field of wheat that is still green in Punjab.

    Against the Grain: Farming for the Planet in India's Breadbasket

    Learn how farmers in India are taking action to break a cycle of field-clearing fires, help their soil store millions more tons of carbon and recharge healthy water supplies. See the transformation in India

Stopping the burns: Healthier farming in NW India A dynamic look at the issue of burning paddy rice stubble in Northwest India. TNC leaders describe the factors that lead to the fires and how partnering with farmers can lead to solutions that work for communities and the planet. Videography by Smita Sharma. Aerial videography by Dipankar Sharma.

Nature-Based Solutions

  • Graphical cover for natural climate solutions handbook.

    Handbook: Natural Climate Solutions

    A technical guide for assessing nature-based mitigation opportunities around the world. Get the handbook.

Natural Climate Solutions Explained (3:01) In this video, it's the future, and we look back on how we saved the world with nature. In the 2020s, we learned that nature could pull 11 billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere. This was a full third of the emission reductions we needed! So how did nature do all this?

Financing Climate Action

  • Graphic of shapes and symbols.

    The playbook for climate finance

    We need funding to reach our climate goals. The conversations and commitments at COP27 and previous events are how we get it. Get the playbook.

How carbon markets fight climate change (2:45) If we want to keep the climate in safe boundaries, we need to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible. But eliminating some carbon sources will be easier than others. That’s where carbon markets can help.

Clean Energy

  • Wind turbines on the top of a hill.

    We need a renewable energy transition

    The world needs at least a nine-fold increase in renewable energy production to meet the Paris Agreement climate goals and much more to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. We need deploy renewable energy in ways that support our climate goals. How to get there.

How to site renewables right (1:05) There are more than 120,000 square miles in the central United States where renewable energy can be located without disturbing habitats. Our Site Renewables Right program shows how we can power the way to a clean and green energy future.