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Marin, Ohisalo represent Finland at COP27 climate summit

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) is to hold a series of one-on-one talks on the sidelines of the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, which has been dubbed the "African COP".

PM Sanna Marin (on the left) and climate minister Maria Ohisalo (on the right) with Finance Minister Annika Saarikko, whose Centre party is not sending a minister to the summit. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) is heading to Egypt for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), where she is to deliver Finland’s address at the meeting of the Heads of State and Government on Monday.

According to the government, Marin will also hold bilateral meetings and attend high-level events on topics such as the just transition, climate and forests, and early warning systems "as her programme permits". 

On Sunday, world leaders began to arrive in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the negotiations that are scheduled to run for nearly two weeks through 18 November – although past conference of the parties (COP) summits have routinely run overtime.

With just five months until parliamentary elections, Marin's centre-left cabinet is running out of time to implement more action towards its target of making Finland carbon-neutral by 2035. 

In recent months, the government has faced calls to limit logging of the nation's forests, whose carbon-absorbing capacity has been considered the cornerstone of the climate policy. In May, Statistics Finland declared that the land-use sector – including forestry and agriculture – was no longer a carbon sink and had instead become a net emitter of greenhouse gases. 

Ohisalo: Poor countries hardest hit

During the summit's ministerial week of 14-18 November, the Finnish delegation will be led by Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Maria Ohisalo (Green). 

"We have again witnessed a year when temperatures have been record-high in many parts of the world and emissions have kept growing. More ambitious action is needed fast to turn global emissions into a decrease and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Especially the world’s largest economies need to do more,” Ohisalo said in a government press release. 

"The impacts of climate change are already evident all over the world. Floods in Pakistan, food crisis in Africa and record-breaking drought in Europe – none of the world’s economies is safe, but it is obvious that poor countries will be hit the hardest," she added.

"African COP"

Delegates at the summit in Egypt have agreed to discuss whether rich nations should compensate poor countries most vulnerable to climate change for their suffering.

"This creates for the first time an institutionally stable space on the formal agenda of COP and the Paris Agreement to discuss the pressing issue of funding arrangements needed to deal with existing gaps, responding to loss and damage," COP27 president Sameh Shoukry told the opening plenary on Sunday. 

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Climate expert Emilia Runeberg from Fingo, an umbrella organisation of Finnish civil society organisations. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle

With the conference being held on the African continent for the first time since 2016, Finnish NGOs expect that decisions on important issues for African countries, such as adaptation to climate change and sharing its economic burden, will be made in the negotiations.

"The effects of climate change are so drastic. African countries are already spending as much as 5–15 percent of their gross domestic product to respond to them," noted climate expert Emilia Runeberg from Fingo, an umbrella organisation of about 280 Finnish civil society organisations. 

"The unequal development of climate change has been rapid," she told Yle.

Sarkkinen to address equality and inclusion

Minister of Social Affairs and Health Hanna Sarkkinen (Left) will also take part in the meeting, addressing events that deal with the just transition, inclusion of people with disabilities and the role of women.

"To achieve carbon neutrality, everyone must have the opportunity to participate in the work,” said Sarkkinen. "At this conference, I will discuss means to pursue an inclusive climate policy with persons working on equality issues and organisations for persons with disabilities. The role of social policy is to make it possible for everyone to stay involved."

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