COP27: Your need-to-knows, including why this year is more important than ever

Plus, why King Charles III won't be attending.

Rishi Sunak at the COP27 conference
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It feels like only yesterday that COP26 was hosted here in the UK - yet, a whole year has passed and global leaders are now gathering in Egypt for the twenty-seventh iteration, COP27.

Since the first conference which was held in Berlin in 1995, 197 nations have gathered yearly after agreeing to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This framework is a global agreement that asks nations to not only take responsibility for their global emissions, but work towards reducing them, too.

At the twenty-first summit in 2015, they agreed to the infamous "Paris Agreement," whereby countries vowed to limit their emissions in order to keep global warming below 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1.5 degrees Celsius).

So, why is this year so important and why was it so critical that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reversed his initial decision not to attend?

Good question. This year is particularly important as we've seen devastating climate disasters firsthand - from the devastating floods in Pakistan and wildfires across Europe, to the 40-degree heatwave in the UK. 

It's undeniable that climate change is negatively impacting the planet - and fast. Keep scrolling for your need-to-knows about this year's conference.

What are the COP27 dates?

It kicked off on Sunday 6th November in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

It's set to run until Friday 18th November - that said, delegations often overrun if agreements aren't met, and prominent leaders regularly pop in and out as their schedules allow.

Why is it called COP27?

Good question. 

COP is an abbreviation of the full name of the event, Conference of the Parties. 

It's often shortened to COP and followed with the edition number. For example, this year is the twenty-seventh iteration of COP, hence the name COP27.

COP is hosted by the United Nations, and goals are set within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is essentially a convention to bring nations together and aim for a similar set of goals when it comes to climate change and reducing emissions and, as above, has been happening since 1995.

What will be discussed in COP27?

The 197 nations will primarily discuss how on track they are to reach the Paris Agreement by 2050. 

The conference is set to cover other pressing global issues, including: 

  • Energy sources and how to promote more clean energy usage
  • The current cost of living and energy crisis
  • Food production and biodiversity
  • The continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions
  • New ways to fund climate action, too.

The bottom is a pressing issue at current and it's thought that it will be one of the biggest focuses of this year - after all, it's important for world leaders to discuss how, realistically, they aim to divide financial responsibility.

It's also thought that this year, smaller countries who are experiencing the worst impact from the climate crisis will be given a platform to push for change. 

Who will be at COP27? 

The global leaders and UN representatives from the 197 nations attending, including: 

  • Cop27 president Sameh Shoukry
  • United Nations secretary general António Guterres
  • Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
  • Grenada’s minister for climate resilience Simon Stiell
  • UK's COP26 president Alok Sharma
  • Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley
  • President of the World Bank Group David Malpass 
  • US president Joe Biden
  • U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry
  • President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen
  • EU executive vice-president, Frans Timmermans
  • China’s climate spokesman Xie Zhenhua

Who won't be at COP27?

  • King Charles III - former PM Liz Truss asked him not to go as Downing Street said it is "not the right occasion"
  • Russian president Vladimir Putin - who is currently waging war on Ukraine and responsible for a lot of global damage and climate crisis this year.
  • China’s President Xi Jinping
  • India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

What can I do to show my support?

Simple - stay up to date with the latest news, rally politicians and representatives on social media, and reduce your own carbon footprint, where you can.

Here at Marie Claire UK, we think sustainable living is all about starting somewhere - that is, doing what you can, where you can. Things like reducing your meat intake, zero waste plastic, and mindless spending will all help the planet long term.

For more simple tips on how to live sustainably, do read our guide. 

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.