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.
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
The target for limiting global warming to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.
The amount of emission reductions we could realize by protecting and restoring nature.
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.
2. Here are a few topics we expect to see in the spotlight at COP27:
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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
Our guide to talking about climate change will help you feel more comfortable raising these topics at the dinner table with your friends and family.
Want to have an age-appropriate conversation about climate change with kids? Nature Lab has a variety of lessons, videos and other resources to educate K-12 students on climate issues and solutions.
Share this page on your social channels so others know what they can do, too. Here are hashtags to join the conversation: #COP27 #NatureNow
If you're in the U.S., speak out for climate action now at all levels of government. Pledge to stand with The Nature Conservancy as we call on U.S. leaders to put nature and climate solutions on the policy agenda.
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Educate yourself and share the knowledge. If you feel ready to take a deep dive, scroll down to the next section for some resources we've put together on key topics that will be discussed at COP27.
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.
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Follow the #COP27 hashtag on Twitter to get the latest from delegates. Follow #COP27
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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.
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.
Indigenous and Local Community Leadership
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
Food and Climate
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
Handbook: Natural Climate Solutions
A technical guide for assessing nature-based mitigation opportunities around the world. Get the handbook.
Financing Climate Action
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.
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.