By Dr Johnson Odakkal & Shaima Pasha
As the globe adapts to another new normalcy post-pandemic, the focus of most nations shifted towards addressing the important aspect of climate change. COP27 was held in this context at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt. It brought together 45,000 participants to share ideas, solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions in order to seek solutions to climate change. Let's explore - What this year's United Nation Climate Change Conference, COP27 all about? What were its outcomes?
Two valid question some of you might have are, "What is COP27? Why has it been a hot topic this month?"
COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference also known as Conference Of Parties which aims to address some of the vital issues surrounding climate change. The Conference commenced on November 7th, 2022 and concluded on November 20th, 2022. The main aim of the conference was to enable a discussion that is fair, equitable, effective and ambitious and is agreed by all the participating countries. Delegates and experts from over 200 countries attended this conference.
Let’s do a bit of rewind and quickly take a glance at the previous Conference of Parties (COP26) from October 31st, to November 12th, 2021. It took place in Glasgow and brought together over 200 countries. The Glasgow Climate Change Pact was the fruit of the negotiations between the participating countries. The pact included the following plans of action:
Recognising the emergency & accelerating action
Moving away from fossil fuels & transition to clean energy
Focusing on loss and damage & providing support for adaptation
After COP26, the world had it’s attention on many issues. Many goals of COP26 were not achieved due to a general economic slowdown which shifted the attention of nations and their priorities. The Russia - Ukraine War has been both a disruptor of vital steps to mitigate adverse effects of climate change. Sudden surge of Covid-19 in between did also add to the slow pace of action.
As the participants of COP27 gathered in Sharm El-Sheikh India became a strong voice to advocate for developing nations. India's contribution to world's cumulative emissions is less than 4% and our annual per capita emissions are about one-third of the global average. Despite this, India is undertaking arduous efforts to follow the Mantra - LiFE which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in our national statement at COP26. India has made remarkable progress since then. This year, Indian Union Minister for Labour and Employment, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav delivered a National Statement at COP 27. he expressed how happy India is about the 'loss and damage' plan. He also highlighted Indian achievements over a year and plans for the coming year.
If you want to have a closer look at the outcomes do visit - http://unfccc.int/documents/624444. In a nutshell let us spell out a few key outcomes of this 13 day discussion. Three of the major outcomes are:
I. Loss and Damage
Fiona Harvey in one of her articles acknowledged that developing countries have been seeking financial assistance for loss and damage, for nearly three decades. Funds are needed to rescue and rebuild the physical and social infrastructure of countries devastated by extreme weather.
The concept of 'loss and damage' was introduced in the year 2009 and a promise was made by the developed countries to provide $100 billion per year to developing and vulnerable countries. Yet this goal has not been achieved yet. Finally this year the countries agreed on accelerating their efforts and promised to provide financial assistance to the vulnerable and developing countries.
II. Adaptation & Mitigation
Many parts of the world are suffering from the adverse effects of climate change and these extreme events cannot be avoided. We have to pay the price for what we have done. Yet in order to mitigate the losses and damages, vulnerable regions along with other collaborators need to prepare themselves to face such events in the future. As the situation worsens, such events will be more frequent in the future. Therefore to prevent major losses an adaptation and mitigation plan was laid down. Many countries realized that there is a need to adapt, and build resilience in order to survive and thrive. There is a need to build disaster proof infrastructure in the most vulnerable countries. To achieve this goal, the developed countries were expected to assist developing countries to meet the cost of adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. At COP26, developed countries agreed to provide financial support of $40 billion per year, but they have not met it yet. This year a promise was made by developing countries to double the finance for adaptation.
III. The red line of 1.5°C
Last year at COP26 the average temperature limit was reduced to 1.5°C from 2°C which was earlier agreed at the Paris Agreement 2015. Both developed and developing countries have committed to reach net zero emissions. But the emissions are yet to fall, as the global emissions returned to pre-pandemic levels. Therefore this goal remains in need of execution with effectiveness.
The next Conference of Parties - COP28, will meet at Expo City, Dubai in 2023, to evaluate the achievements of each country and to check if the goals are met or not and to find solutions to deviations.
As we close this summary may we be reminded that we are living in a very critical period in the history of the planet. The effects of climate change are already here and they keep on worsening. This year, in 2022, we have seen some of the most catastrophic climate change led extreme events. These point to a clear need for action. Pending goals from COP26 and earlier have not been fulfilled. A continuation of this in the coming year will make it impossible for us to deal with the future. There is a need for accelerating response by all nations. Stakeholders led by national governments should take a path to transition towards clean energy to have sustainable development and growth for a better tomorrow.
“By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no Planet B.” Emmanuel Macron, President of France
Together we all can and will solve this problem. Before it is too late let us all work together to build a better future with positivity and hope.