Negotiating the Climate’s Future in Sharm-el-Sheikh

“Thank you for flying with us and I wish you a great holiday in Sharm-el-Sheikh."

Our captain must have missed the fact that the Egyptian resort town has become the center of the world for two weeks. My flight is packed with government negotiators, climate activists, politicians and NGO representatives. For two weeks, I am one of them, as climate negotiator on behalf of the Eastern European country of Georgia. A shuttle service brings me to my hotel, a beach resort where the occasional tourist looks somewhat surprised at the sudden influx of men and women in suits. It is in this surreal atmosphere that I will have the experience of a lifetime attending the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

My presence in Sharm-el-Sheikh follows on months of solid preparations with the DLA Piper team working on this pro bono initiative through New Perimeter. The cooperation with Georgia dates back almost a decade, and over time the Georgian delegation, with our help, has secured a respected position among other delegations. In the months leading up to COP27, we have identified key opportunities to advance Georgia’s agenda and drafted language that we could propose during the negotiations. The desk research involves going back to years of COP decisions and trying to find information that supports our position. Packed with this knowledge, I feel I am well prepared to take part in the negotiations.

Reality, though, is different. Climate negotiations are chaotic and intense-- at times boring and at times emotional. The meetings run late, and we run out of water and food. At one o’ clock at night I am stuck in meetings regarding “Response Measures”, a COP phrase used to describe the positive and negative impacts of measures to mitigate climate change. 16 hours into the meeting, we are not getting any closer to an agreement.

The next morning, I hear great news from my colleagues. In another meeting room, Georgia has been successful in advancing the issue of equitable geographical representation, a key issue for Georgia in order to make sure every state has an equal chance of being elected to governing bodies of the organs and bodies established under the climate treaties. An absolute highlight of this COP.

I leave Sharm-el-Sheikh exhausted, but most grateful to DLA Piper’s New Perimeter program for the opportunity to advocate on behalf of Georgia.  These negotiations are critical to the future of our planet, and it is fantastic to know that our firm is part of that process.