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We are on the Highway to Climate Hell—Time to Hit the Brakes

By Professor Derek Walker

Wednesday is the fourth full day of fast-paced activity here at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh.  This beautiful seaside city is a perfect backdrop for discussions about how to protect the world’s vulnerable communities and fragile ecosystems from intensifying climate change impacts.

(VLGS COP27 Week One Delegation)

The past two days featured the High-Level SummitUN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told a gathering of over 100 heads of state that the world is on the highway to climate hell, and that we still have our feet on the accelerator.  Guterres has been a particularly strong advocate for increasing the ambition of national commitments and the strength of cooperation.

The voices of Africans leaders are particularly powerful, and their warnings especially stark, as Egypt hosts the first African COP since 2016.  Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu told her colleagues that “our part of the world has to choose between life and death,” and Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera declared that “Africa should not pay for crimes they have not committed.”

Members of the VLGS student delegation are getting an inside look into the priorities and experiences of a critically climate-vulnerable country as collaborators with the negotiating team of the Republic of Palau.  VLGS delegates are also tracking the unfolding discussions on key COP27 issues including finance, loss and damage, adaptation, and mitigation.

(VLGS Professor Walker and Delegates with President Surangel Whipps Jr. of the Republic of Palau)

“It was a busy, non-stop meeting, but I was really pleased to see so many people talking about the environment, the country’s responsibilities and contributions, and our future. It’s a great way to see the real reactions of country representatives and whether they really care or need more attention,” said VLGS delegate JiaYu Deng.  “What impressed me most was that the representatives from small island countries spoke at the New Collective Quantitative Goals meeting. They seemed to be the leaders of the discussion and contributed strong ideas,” Deng added.

We will provide further updates as developments occur.  Please contact Professor Derek Walker at if you have any questions about COP27 or the International Climate Change Law course at VLGS.