Starting next week, the international community will meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). The US Chamber of Commerce, which has official observer status, will send our largest delegation to the conference to date. We’ll be joined by numerous business leaders from across the economy to show how seriously the business community takes its commitment to combating climate change.
The world has changed since last year’s COP26 in Glasgow. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – and Europe’s energy dependence on Russia – has put new pressure on markets and underscored the importance of energy security. Record inflation in the United States and around the world has pushed up prices for businesses and consumers, and tight supply and refining capacity has pushed energy prices to some of their highest levels.
On the bright side, the US Congress has acted to allocate unprecedented resources to research, development and deployment of clean energy technologies, from renewable energy to carbon capture, battery storage and nuclear power. The passage and implementation of the Anti-Inflation Law and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have begun, and both offer important opportunities to accelerate not only technology deployment, but also adaptation and resilience. And while the finish line has not been reached (for now), serious discussions are taking place in the United States about approving reforms. Combined with the vast resources that the private sector has already expended, we could not be more optimistic that innovation and technology will deliver the emissions reductions needed around the world.
COP27 has a renewed focus on Africa and developing countries, bringing with it a new focus on balancing broader development needs with climate demands. Earlier this year, the US Chamber led its first GreenTech mission to Egypt, connecting more than 40 American companies working on clean energy with needs and opportunities in Egypt and beyond. Long-standing financing issues will come up in the negotiations. While government resources and policies are at the heart of these discussions, American and European companies and financial institutions will also play a critical role in funding clean energy initiatives in the developing world.
We consider the emergence of nuclear power at COP to be remarkable. Long shunned at international gatherings, nuclear energy gained momentum at COP26 and is poised to take center stage at COP27. In fact, one of our many US Chamber events at COP27 will highlight the safety and emissions benefits of small modular nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe.
We are also pleased with the progress made in reducing methane emissions. US natural gas remains an important part of the equation, and oil and gas needs will continue for decades to come. Not only has natural gas been responsible for the bulk of America’s emission reductions over the past decade, but it can also serve as a lower-emission baseload energy source and fuel the widespread use of intermittent renewable energy. Equally important, but widely underestimated, is the fact that Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian energy by sourcing more US LNG will also reduce emissions, as American energy production is far cleaner than Russia’s.
Given this reality, we appreciate the work of the US government to develop and implement the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce global methane emissions by 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. Achieving this goal will require Herculean efforts in sectors ranging from energy to agriculture to waste management, but US companies have committed to accelerating the reduction of this high-intensity greenhouse gas and progress toward that goal has already been made.
The US Chamber is hosting and participating in an ambitious series of events in Egypt with the support of our partners at AmCham Egypt. We are particularly pleased to host the President’s Special Envoy for Climate Issues, John Kerry, for a business gala dinner midway through the conference on November 12, which should provide a timely overview of the COP27 discussions.
Here you can follow all activities of our US Chamber in Egypt.
About the authors
Senior Vice President, Policy, US Chamber of Commerce, President, Global Energy Institute, US Chamber of Commerce
Martin (Marty) Durbin is President of the Global Energy Institute (GEI) of the US Chamber of Commerce. Durbin leads GEI’s efforts to build support for smart energy action through policy development, education and advocacy, making it a focal point for smart energy solutions.