“We have, I think about 121 maybe, and the number is growing, heads of state and government here,” he said during an online briefing. “We hope it will be a turning point.” Leaders like US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed their attendance, but Aboulmagd said other major heads of state such as China’s Xi Jinping and India’s Narendra Modi will not attend.
Aboulmagd said recent scientific reports emphasized the urgency of tackling global warming.
“Everyone is now aware of the gravity of the situation, of the magnitude of the challenge, and hopefully has come here to work together,” he said.
Several thorny issues will be discussed during the November 6-18 talks, including further reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing financial aid to poor countries struggling with the effects of climate change. It is the first such gathering in Africa since 2016. More than 40,000 people have registered for the event.
Aboulmagd called on negotiators to cooperate constructively. “We can’t afford to waste time,” he said. “So everyone should seize the opportunity and distance themselves from the hostile winner-takes-all approach that has plagued this process for too long.”
Civil society organizations have expressed concern that their attendance at this year’s talks will be limited, citing Egypt’s dubious human rights record.
But Aboulmagd said activists will be given their space, with special arrangements already in place “for those who want to organize demonstrations or protests or stand-ins.”
Asked about the possibility of holding a large meeting halfway through the talks, as has traditionally happened in previous meetings, he said, “that will be arranged.”
Organizers should submit contact names and the planned route should be agreed with city officials.
“As soon as a request comes in, it will be responded to positively,” he said.
Egypt would pressure diplomats to deliver on the lofty promises made by their leaders, Aboulmagd said, warning that these had not been translated into the negotiating rooms so far.
“This separation between reality in the public sphere and what actually happens in negotiating rooms cannot continue,” he said. “It’s about real lives being lost and future lives being destroyed” by uncontrolled climate change.
Follow AP’s climate and environmental coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment
Associated Press climate and environmental awareness receives support from several private foundations. Read more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.