As I weaved through a throng of people waiting to catch a glimpse of Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference — familiarly referred to as COP27 — I was struck by the magnitude of what I was doing.

There were hundreds of people from all walks of life who wanted to hear what the progressive, liberal leader had to say. His aggressive approach to protecting the Amazon, which is basically the heart of carbon sequestration, is a change from past administrations. And that’s when it hit me how big a deal this trip was.

Sustainable PR ’s newest client, Washington, D.C.-based clean energy company Zoetic Refrigerants, invited me to attend the global climate change conference ahead of the arrival of the company’s chairman, Jerome Ringo, to promote Zoetic’s new product, a green refrigerant that reduces emissions and saves companies up to 40 percent of utility costs.

More than 92 heads of state and approximately 35,000 representatives from 190 countries attended COP27, which ran from Nov. 6 to 20, 2022, in Sharm El Sheikh, a coastal resort town on the Red Sea in Egypt.

COP27 is important in that goals and objectives are agreed to among attending delegates from countries around the world — developed and developing. I learned a tremendous amount about how countries negotiate long-term strategic agreements on climate change, and how we might save the world from the abyss. Clearly, third-world nations and countries like the U.S. don’t always see eye to eye, or have the same agenda.

That was the case at this year’s event, the most highly publicized achievement of which centered on reparations, or payments made by wealthier nations to developing countries for their roles in advancing the carbon industrial base.

The argument is that islands without big industrial bases are disproportionately impacted by climate change by way of floods, natural disasters, losses and damages. Countries like the United States, England and some European nations have had industrialized societies for hundreds of years and have, theoretically, are leading contributors to climate damage around the world.

This concept created some heated debate and consternation, as more industrialized countries’ hopes to pursue aggressive carbon emission reductions weren’t realized. I see this a lot like having a fever and going to see a doctor. The doctor gives me medication to reduce the fever but doesn’t address what’s causing it.

Focus shifted from hard and stringent restrictions on carbon reduction to this notion of loss and damage, so the countries are dealing with the symptom rather than the cause. This is why another hot topic was “adaptation”, the notion that climate impacts are inevitable, and preparations need to be made to adapt.

Despite that discord, the sheer number of nations attending COP is, in and of itself, progress. Influence of public figures like Lula attending further inspires those of us who work on a small scale to protect the planet.

For Sustainable PR, COP27 was a manifestation of everything we’re trying to do as a green PR firm to help companies and organizations pursue solutions to climate change. This was a tremendous opportunity and certainly one I hope I am fortunate to have again.