2021 was a critical year for the environment, with tipping point events from the IPCC’s landmark report on the climate crisis – “Code red for humanity” – to Glasgow’s COP26, which closed the year by keeping 1.5°C alive… just. As global average temperatures continue to creep towards dangerous thresholds, and critical target dates draw closer, every year counts in the race to avert the worst impacts of the crisis. Here are the top 10 climate change events of 2022 that we believe have the most potential to drive real impact at scale.
The 10 climate change events you need to know about in 2022:
- World Future Energy Summit, January
- 55th Session of the IPCC, February
- UNEP Environment Assembly, March
- COP15: the UN Biodiversity Conference, April-May
- G7, June
- World Environment Day, June
- UN Ocean Conference, June-July
- UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July
- G20, October
- COP27, November
1. World Future Energy Summit, January
When? 17-19 January
Where? Abu Dhabi, UAE
The climate change events 2022 calendar kicked off with the United Arab Emirates’ annual World Future Energy Summit: a business event that has gathered leaders, innovators and industry experts for the past 14 years with one common goal: creating a more sustainable future through future energy, energy efficiencies, and clean technology.
Events such as this are critical for aligning plans, speeding the development of new tech, and unlocking investment. In 2020, the last time the event was hosted in person, it attracted over 34,000 attendees and 27 joint letters of understanding were signed committing businesses and investors to accelerating the low carbon energy transition. This year we saw some exciting demonstrations of new tech along with forums on ecowaste, solar and clean energy, water, and smart cities.
2. 55th Session of the IPCC, February
When? 14-16 February
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing climate change science. Its volunteer scientists don’t undertake their own research, but instead collate credible findings into reports released every 5-7 years. Last year the IPCC released its Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, confirming climate change as widespread, rapid and intensifying.
This year, all eyes will be on the 55th session of the IPCC as it approves the findings of the Working Group II – which assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it – for the Sixth Assessment Report. World decision-makers will be taking notes: where last year’s report assessed the physical science, this year’s report focuses on the impacts.
3. UNEP Environment Assembly, March
When? 28 February–2 March
Where? Nairobi, Kenya
Gathering all 193 member states of the UN, along with representatives from business and advocates from interest groups and underrepresented communities, the fifth session of the UNEP Environment Assembly meets at the end of February, coinciding with 50th anniversary of the creation of the UN Environment Programme.
The UNEP Environment Assembly has met biennially over the past decade to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law. This Assembly will focus on nature and how we can collaboratively ‘strengthen our action’ to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of 17 global goals that together form a blueprint for a more sustainable and equitable future worldwide.
Where the World Future Energy Summit provides an opportunity for businesses to share innovations and best practices, the UNEP Environment Assembly gives UN member states a similar platform to share their learnings from their interactions with – and projects involving – nature. There is also already a draft paper calling attendees to strengthen their actions for nature.
4. COP15: the UN Biodiversity Conference, April-May
When? 25 April–8 May (TBC)
Where? Kunming, China (TBC)
COP15 – the UN Biodiversity Conference, which brings together global governments to set goals to reverse global biodiversity loss – is a two-parter: April’s summit in China follows an online conference last October.
Biodiversity loss is one of the planet’s biggest issues and COP15 will tackle it through its Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework: a series of binding government commitments that will also unlock investment and standardise targets.
These targets will be especially important as they are by design measurable, tracked and run from a local level all the way to the global. Our partners at Rathbone Greenbank Investments have been part of the design process and explain more in their article here.
5. G7, June
When? 26-28 June
Where? Bavarian Alps, Germany
On 1 January 2022 Germany took over the presidency of the G7 with a strong sustainability agenda, taglined “progress towards an equitable world”. Its first aim is to strengthen alliances for a sustainable planet – along with a focus on sustainable investment.
Germany’s G7 summit invites the leaders of some of the largest and most powerful developed economies to sit down in a smaller group and make plans to wield their considerable combined power to save our planet.
Previous G7 outcomes have included a commitment to not fund coal in developing economies and a pledge to improve global funding to poorer nations to help with climate adaptation. Expect joint declarations, funding pledges and at least one photo of leaders looking sombre around an overly-polished table.
6. World Environment Day, June
When? 5 June
The only awareness day to make our list. World Environment Day has been held on this date since 1974: it’s the UN-designated day where governments, businesses, communities and citizens globally are asked to take some time to recognise the climate crisis and its devastating impact. As the highest profile, global environmental awareness day, World Environment Day always generates interesting and important discourse from business and climate conscious individuals.
This year’s theme is Only One Earth (named for the 1974 Stockholm Conference that established UNEP). Expect to see the hashtag #OnlyOneEarth dominating your social feeds and lots of (hopefully) creative campaigns from businesses, schools, and media.
If you’re a socially responsible business looking to tell your story this World Environment Day, do get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
7. UN Ocean Conference, June-July
When? 27 June–1 July
Where? Lisbon, Portugal
Although taking place in Lisbon, this year’s UN Ocean Conference is a joint endeavour from both Portugal and Kenya. These two ocean-reliant nations will be seeking to propel science-based solutions and raise the profile of ocean issues in line with SDG 14: Life Below Water (which focuses on how we can best conserve and sustainably use the resources of the oceans and seas).
Oceans have, until recently, been dangerously overlooked in the struggle against climate change. With over 70% of the planet covered in water, oceans provide some of the greatest potential for nature-based solutions – as well as holding some of the ecologies most at risk from global warming (for example, coral reefs and oyster beds).
At this conference we’re hoping to see some exciting innovative tech, as well as some pledges from governments on actions to limit damaging behaviours (such as certain types of trawling), funding for marine conservation projects, and collaboration to accelerate a much-needed change in how we use and view our seas.
8. UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, July
When? 5-15 July
Where? New York, USA
Founded a decade ago, the annual High Level Political Forum is the main UN platform on sustainable development. This year’s forum will serve as a touch point for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will highlight how far we really are from our 2030 climate goals.
Another of our list’s political events, we hope to see commitments strengthened and new global pledges made around the forum’s five focus SDGs: 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 14 (Life Below Water), 15 (Life on Land), and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
9. G20, October
When? 30-31 October
Where? Bali, Indonesia
Indonesia is one of the countries most at risk from the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, so its presidency this year of the Group of Twenty (G20) – a global economy shaping forum of the worlds 19 largest national economies and also the European Union – is likely to deliver a strong focus on adaptation and resilience, two of the most important climate topics for 2022.
The world’s largest island country also declared the energy transition to be one of its priorities for the summit, so expect agreements to collaborate on green energy and to fund innovative tech. That is unless Covid-19 steals the show again.
10. COP27, November
When? 7-18 November
Where? Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt
And last but not least: Egypt’s COP27 is expected to bring focus to countries most at risk from the effects of climate change. After the UK-hosted COP26 in 2021 affirmed climate change as an issue of global priority and interest, it is now down to COP27 to capitalise on this public support and set out some defining actions that will bring the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees back into reality.
This COP is also expected to give a much stronger emphasis on youth voices than COP26 did in Glasgow. That, paired with the MENA region’s track record of often being overlooked in discourse around climate, means that the Egyptian presidency will certainly be a far more inclusive one. We can’t wait.
You may also like Our top 21 environmental campaigns of 2021, and Four green hydrogen companies to watch.