COP27: Countries reach historic decision on loss and damage but fail to address cause of global warming

NEW DELHI: Showing remarkable political will, over 195 countries on Sunday agreed at the 27th session of the UN climate talks (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to set up a loss and damage fund for supporting poor vulnerable countries that are victims of extreme weather events worsened by historical cumulative emissions of rich nations.
On the other hand, the countries could not agree to “phase down” all fossil fuels even as India and most of the European Union (EU) nations wanted this to be included in the final decision to keep the 1.5 degree Celsius goal alive to limit global warming.
Though the task for setting up a new fund looked quite difficult, the loss and damage found place in the agenda of climate talks for the first time. The nations could reach the historic agreement for a landmark fund when rich countries including EU and the US showed some flexibility.
They argued that its donor base should also be big economies like China and beneficiaries must include only poor vulnerable countries. Donor base and beneficiaries’ points will, however, be clarified by next year as big economies like India and China have not been in favour of being mandatory contributors to the fund.
From India’s point of view, inclusion of “transition to sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption and production” in the COP27 cover decision is the big takeaway as the country has long been pitching for a paradigm shift from mindless and destructive consumption (of rich nations) to mindful and deliberate utilization of resources to combat climate change.
“Inclusion of sustainable lifestyle is the most significant for us. It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has made the pitch for an environmentally-friendly lifestyle through his mantra of Mission LiFE (lifestyle for environment) and the world today moved in that direction by including it in the implementation plan to address climate change,” said environment minister Bhupender Yadav while welcoming the move, showing the consensus decision of all countries on this point.
The final outcome of the COP27 also retains the Glasgow climate pact’s points on mitigation- “phase down” of unabated coal power and “phase out” of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies with conditions that’s suitable for India- after initial hiccups. India had to intervene a day before the conclusion of the talks to get it corrected in the draft text when it appeared to be a move by certain countries to bring “phase out” for coal and remove the conditions which India always argues to be important for supporting its poor population in terms of subsidising cooking fuel, farming operations and other livelihood support activities.
There are, however, still few loose ends of the COP27 outcome which are to be stitched together in due course as fossil fuel phase down points remain missing despite being supported by India and EU, but overall the COP27 will always be remembered for loss and damage — included in the COP agenda for the first time and finally resulted in an agreement on setting up new funds- that had been on fringe for 30 years.
The COP27 also set up a four-year work programme on climate action in agriculture and food security, and on just transition for energy use. Since it’ll have implications for India, Yadav during his intervention in closing plenary made it clear that the farmers should not be burdened with any mitigation efforts and why the developed countries should take lead in just transition.
“Agriculture, the mainstay of livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers, will be hard hit from climate change. So, we should not burden them with mitigation responsibilities. Indeed, India has kept mitigation in agriculture out of its NDCs,” he said.
On establishing a work program on just transition, the minister said, “For most developing countries, just transition cannot be equated with decarbonization, but with low-carbon development. Developing countries need independence in their choice of energy mix, and in achieving the SDGs. Developed countries taking the lead in climate action is therefore a very important aspect of the global just transition.”

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