Another climate change summit has ended- COP27 in Egypt’s Sharm el Sheikh nearly ended last weekend without a deal. But on Sunday, it came out with progress on a long-pending agreement to set up a loss and damages fund to help the world’s most vulnerable countries hit by climate change.
First, what are COPs or “Conference of the Parties”?
- The COPs are annual conferences to deal with climate change issues
- The first COP was held in 1992, when the UN organised the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted, and
- In the past 30 years, 197 countries have signed the UNFCCC
- In the UNFCCC, all countries agreed to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system”.
- Since then, the Convention has been added to- with the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 putting limits on emissions, and Paris Agreement in 2015, where all countries sought to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and try to bring it to 1.5 degrees.
- COP26 in Glasgow was famous for the various commitments given on countries to cut their carbon emissions to a net zero- And PM Modi gave the date of 2070 for India
So what were the big outcomes from COP27 in Egypt?
1. The biggest takeaway was a last minute agreement to set up a Loss and Damage fund- to help countries that are victims of climate disasters, particularly Small Island States and members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). However, there was no clarity on who will pay for the fund and when it would be operationalised. Remember a previous commitment from 2009 for countries to donate $100 bn a year. The fund was outcome of a major push by the G-77 group with China- group of developing countries and LDCs, that India is a part of, chaired this year by Pakistan.
2. On emissions, COP27 made no change on implementing the 1.5 degree target. Also disappointing to the developed world, no agreement on making 2025 the year of peak emissions
3. India had fought last year to change the phrase “phase out of coal”, to “phase down”. This year, it was, however unable to convince participants to make the phrase about phasing down all fossil fuels.
4. Another outcome, is the deep divide between the developed world and the developing countries that appeared to spend a large part of the conference cutting out each other’s proposals and texts
How did countries react?
Obviously, the most satisfied countries were those that pushed for the loss and damage fund-- Bangladesh for example- 20 of the past 23 cyclonic systems in the past decade have built in the Bay of Bengal, and PM Sheikh Hasina who helped found the 58-member Climate Vulnerable Forum gave it a big push . Earlier I spoke to Bangladesh Deputy FM Shahriar Alam in Dhaka- here’s what he said- “Of course, we are happy, we just hope that they will deliver their promises, because you know, everyone is short of cash. And of course, the other argument is whether the initial amount that was set out as a goal is no longer enough. So immediately after this cop 27, we need to start encouraging major economies to contribute more and exceed the expectation because that is not enough.”
Also happy was India, G77 and China group Chair Pakistan that faced what it called the worst climate change induced floods this year
On the opposite side of the divide- EU and UK showed clear disappointment
What are key takeaways for India?
1. As a developing country with global ambitions- India’s role in COP negotiations is significant in raising the voice of the global south
2. As one of the world’s biggest emitters- India, along with China is also under pressure to give more strict commitments to cutting emissions. India is the world’s 3rd largest emitter of Co2, but not even in the top 20 of emissions per capita.
3. In particular, global demands for India and other developing countries to cut their coal consumption is likely to grow. India is the 2nd largest producer and consumer of coal
4. It is still unclear whether India will benefit from the Loss and Damage fund, or even whether India will be expected to contribute to it.
While regional organisations like SAARC, BIMSTEC have failed to build a common voice for South Asia. All south asian nations are part of a geographic unit- from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean- and must make their voice hear distinctly, without allowing their political differences to overshadow their common need for climate justice for one of the world’s most climate vunerable regions and populations, and in achieving the 3 goals- mitigation, adaptation and reparations or loss and damage.
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3. Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution by Peter Kalmus
4. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates
5. The Great Melt: Accounts from the Frontline of Climate Change by Alister Doyl
6. Himalaya: Exploring the Roof of the World by John Keay
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8. India in a Warming World: Integrating Climate Change and Development edited by Navroz K. Dubash
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