As delegates from nearly 200 countries gathered at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday, the UN warned the impacts of climate change are happening now and worsening at an accelerating pace. In a historic win for poorer countries, small island nations, and global civil society, for the first time ever in UN climate negotiations loss and damage finance has made it onto the agenda at COP27.

Loss and damage — compensation owed to poorer, less developed nations by wealthy nations that have caused the climate crisis by extracting and burning fossil fuels — is the key litmus test for the conference. The disproportionate damages caused by climate-fueled disasters in the countries least culpable for climate change have been especially horrific in recent months. Pakistan, inundated by disastrous floods that submerged one-third of the country just months after being broiled by record-smashing extreme heat, is leading a bloc of more than 100 developing nations demanding compensation for the irreversible losses and damages the countries have already suffered due to climate change.

Human rights at the ‘African COP’

Civil society groups, human rights activists, and other have also raised alarm about the effective sequestration of protesters away from the conference as well as serious security concerns posed by the official COP27 app which can compromise a user’s location, photos, and emails.

Organizers have touted the conference as the “African COP,” but with African countries are already spending billions in an attempt to cope with the climate crisis, activists say that moniker must be earned. “For COP27 to be the ‘African COP’, the needs, voices, and priorities of the African people need to be reflected in the outcome of the negotiations,” Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti told the AP. “COP27 is a chance to bring justice to the most impacted countries through global solidarity and cooperation.” (UN warning: AP, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal $, BBC, FT $, The Hill, Al Jazeera, Wired; Loss and Damage: (AP, Washington Post $, New York Times $, The Guardian, New York Times $, Reuters, Reuters, CNBC, New York Times $, Reuters, explainer, New York Times $; App security concerns The Guardian; “African COP”: AP; Protests: CNN, AP, AP)