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COP27 Begins In Africa

FILE: View of a COP27 sign on the road leading to the conference area in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh town, Egypt October 20, 2022.

The 27th annual Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change — better known as COP27 returns to Africa, starting November 6.

The climate conference opening today in Egypt's resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh has been branded as the "African COP" with officials and activists hoping the conference's location will mean the continent's interests are better represented in climate negotiations.

The hosts say COP27 is a unique opportunity for African nations to align climate change goals with the continent's other aims, like improving living standards and making countries more resilient to weather extremes.

The annual summit rotates among the five U.N. classified regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, central and eastern Europe, and western Europe.

This is the fifth time that an African nation has held the U.N. climate summit. Previously, Morocco, South Africa and Kenya hosted it.

In 2001's Marrakech COP, where landmark accords were passed on climate funding and other key decisions on land use and forestry.

Analysts say that despite high hopes. agreements between countries may not reach the same scale as Paris Agreement forged in April 2016.

The head of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Mithika Mwenda, told the Associated Press that the summit “presents a unique opportunity to place Africa at the center of global climate negotiations and hoped the conference truly delivers for the African people.”

Mwenda adds that the special needs and circumstances of the continent need to be considered as it attempts to both increase access to electricity for millions of people while addressing climate change and limiting the use of fossil fuels.

African countries account for just 3% of total global greenhouse gas emissions but experts say they are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in large part because they lack the ability to quickly adapt to the warming climate, according to Mwenda.

The head the climate change division at the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa Jean-Paul Adam also says there has to be financing progress, stating a need for "clarity as to what will be provided as grants and what will be provided as concessional loans and the remainder being dealt with through prudential private sector investment.”

Regional director for the environmental group Landry Ninteretse says that the climate conference will be a real test of world leaders' commitment to addressing climate change.

“We are tired of years of empty talk and broken promises," he said, adding "We are now demanding nothing else but robust funding mechanisms that address loss and damage in a fair, accessible and transparent way.”

Ninteretse agrees that “the biggest emitters must commit to rapidly cut emissions" and "help the nations most vulnerable to climate change” by financing climate initiatives.

Past COPs have seen disagreements and hardline positions emerge as national interests clash.

“The discussions tend to be protracted, uncompromising and acrimonious at times. But in 2015, the world ratified the Paris Agreement, which was a major milestone.”

But the success of the COP in Paris was the exception, rather than the rule, experts say.