Chandigarh, November 21
In a couple of days from now, yet another edition of Conference of the Parties (COP as it is popularly referred to) will kick off in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 28th session to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Dubai will officially begin on November 30 but “pre-sessions” start from November 24, according to reports.
The two-week conference is convened annually by the United Nations.
The biggest headline from COP27 last year was the much-anticipated agreement to set up a Loss and Damage Finance Facility (LDFF) meant for supporting developing countries, primarily the least developed ones, impacted by climate change, in time to launch at COP28.
It is another matter that according to environmentalists and activists, governments are “acting too slowly to avert the climate crisis”.
“COP28 will again prove how difficult it is for countries to keep promises on climate action. The fact is the Paris Agreement promises have been missed by several countries,” they say.
At Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt (COP27), nations agreed to establish a fund to help poor, vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters made worse by the greenhouse gases but “deals were also made on the sidelines of the summit to sell natural gas to Europe”, they add.
The fact that the host of this year’s climate talks is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer has also drawn the ire of many.
COP negotiations and geopolitics
Three high-level events focusing on the global stock take (GST), covering mitigation, adaptation, and the means of implementation of various climate actions will be held in the UAE.
COP28 will conclude the first-ever GST (analysis of voluntary climate actions taken by countries as per their commitments under the Paris Agreement) and may also adopt the mechanism to operationalise ‘loss and damage’ funds, say experts.
Though the basic aim is to assess global efforts to advance the key Paris Agreement aim of limiting global warming to as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, over the years, the annual UN climate summit has become a major diplomatic timeline in the global political calendar.
The conference this year is happening in a world rife with violent conflicts making negotiations tricky and making the success in Dubai even more important. The climate summit is being held in the UAE amid differences in the world over the Israel-Gaza conflict.
According to reports, organisers are expecting presidents and prime ministers apart from diplomats, official delegates, activists, business leaders and executives.
According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may attend the two-day World Climate Action Summit (WCAS) and pitch for India’s approach to deal with environmental issues through Mission LiFE (lifestyle for environment) which got wider acceptance at G20 leaders' summit in India earlier this year.
US president Joe Biden, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron are among top global leaders expected at the meeting. Observers say that apart from climate talks, the presence of top leaders on a common platform in West Asia will make COP28 an important event to watch out for amid the divisions in the world over geopolitical issues, including the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict in Gaza.
UN climate talks
COPs are convened under the UNFCCC—a multilateral treaty adopted in 1992.
COPs are where parties (governments) assess global efforts to advance the key Paris Agreement aim of limiting global warming to as close as possible to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.
They take decisions on ways to cut GHG emissions and on adapting to the impacts of climate change, on Loss and Damage (which refers to funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by floods, droughts and other climate disasters), and on the means to help countries green their economies and build resilience to climate change (finance, technology and capacity-building).
“Having grown steadily over the past two decades, the conferences are now the largest annual meetings convened by the United Nations. Dignitaries and Heads of State and Government regularly attend besides tens of thousands of government delegates and representatives of civil society, intergovernmental organisations, nongovernmental organisations and the media. At COPs, climate change leaders, experts and influencers come together to share their stories and solutions at panel discussions, exhibits, cultural events and hundreds of side events,” as per the UN website.
India’s stance, including on climate finance and mitigation, is well documented.
Its long-term goal is to move towards a system that doesn’t lead to irreversible damage to the environment. At the same time, India’s growth story also has to be protected keeping in mind the fundamentals of the common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR).
India believes that not all countries can be held responsible for the state of climate in the world today; therefore, action, including on the controversial issue of fossil fuels, has to be taken on the basis of individual national responsibilities and capabilities.
Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav is expected to participate in key negotiations during its high-level segment.
Speaking at the Voice of Global South Summit recently, Yadav said the New Delhi declaration of G20 countries released in September captured the importance of providing climate finance to developing countries. “Developed countries were reminded of their commitment to jointly mobilise $100 billion per year from 2020 for developing countries and doubling their contribution for adaptation finance from 2019 levels by 2025; and we extended support for operationalising the fund for addressing Loss and Damage,” reports quoted Yadav as saying.
The declaration also clearly underlined the principles of CBDR in mitigation efforts and different national circumstances.
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