From rhetoric to the realization of climate actions at COP27

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VISUAL: BIPLOB CHAKROBORTY

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VISUAL: BIPLOB CHAKROBORTY

The two-week 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Sunday, November 6, 2022. The context for this COP is quite different from the previous one. COP27 is clouded by extreme global financial and geopolitical crises. Inflationary pressure and food and fuel crises have affected all countries – so much so that some advanced countries are deviating from their climate commitments. In this context, the Egyptian Presidency of COP27 plans to “move from negotiations and planning to implementation”. Indeed, accelerated actions are needed on pressing issues such as mitigation, adaptation, finance and climate justice for loss and damage.

A key expectation in Sharm el-Sheikh is to have a stronger commitment from nations to reduce emissions to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius to minimize the negative impact of climate change. The 2015 Paris Agreement set an ambition to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but preferably limiting it to 1.5 degrees. The World Resource Institute’s 2022 (WRI 2022) report on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reducing emissions indicates that even as countries implement the Paris Agreement, the pace and scale of reduction emissions must be improved to achieve global climate ambition. Despite their low levels of emissions, least developed countries and developing countries vulnerable to climate change have also made mitigation commitments in their NDCs.

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The issue of adaptation received more attention at COP26 than before. The comprehensive two-year Glasgow-Sharm-el-Sheikh Global Adaptation Goal (GGA) work program was launched at COP26. The program of work aims to build resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change. It was mentioned that countries would design methodologies to assess progress towards adaptation goals. COP27 will be an opportunity to take stock of these advances.

An important outcome of COP26 was the commitment of developed countries to double their funding for adaptation by 2025. Indeed, climate change has created insurmountable challenges for least developed and developing countries. According to the Global Climate Risk Index (GCRI) 2021, the 10 most affected countries from 2000 to 2019 (annual averages) are least developed and developing countries – including Bangladesh. The report further states that in 2019, storms and their direct implications such as rain, floods and landslides were a major cause of loss and damage. The GCRI 2021 report also reveals that among the 10 most climate-affected countries in 2019, six were affected by tropical cyclones. It is understood that with higher temperatures, occurrences of severe tropical cyclones will increase.

To reduce climate vulnerabilities and shocks and adapt to a rapidly changing environment, low- and lower-middle-income countries need financial resources. An adaptation fund is needed to build and strengthen resilience so that climate-vulnerable countries can continue their economic activities. Such a fund is needed to improve their early warning systems for natural disasters. As the majority of low-income countries depend on agriculture, farmers need technologies to receive better and up-to-date data on weather conditions and markets.

In 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, developed countries pledged to collectively mobilize $100 billion each year by 2020 for developing countries to take climate action. The $100 billion annual commitment target was extended to 2025 at COP21 in Paris. Unfortunately, this goal has not yet been achieved. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), total climate finance provided and mobilized by developed countries amounted to USD 83.3 billion in 2020. Of this fund, 58% was for mitigation, 34% for adaptation and seven% for cross-cutting activities. Although adaptation funding increased the most in 2016-2020, mitigation funding was the highest on average over this period. Therefore, how developed countries will reach the $100 billion goal and how climate finance will be organized after 2025 are pressing questions for least developed and developing countries.

Despite demands from countries affected by climate change for several years, the issue of loss and damage has been controversial at the global forum. There are fears that a few countries may suffer irreversible loss and damage from climate change. These losses and damages are not only economic in nature, but also social and cultural. People will lose their homes, economic opportunities, agricultural and industrial production, tourism and other services; some of these losses and damages cannot be assessed in monetary terms.

There was some progress in the discussion on loss and damage at COP26. The Glasgow Pact calls for action to avoid, minimize and address loss and damage. At COP25 in Madrid, the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage was created while at COP26, countries agreed to operationalize and fund the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage. There have also been loss and damage funding commitments from the governments of Scotland, Denmark and the Walloon Region of Belgium, as well as a few philanthropic organizations such as the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, the European Climate Foundation , the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Open Society Foundations and the Global Green Grants Fund. However, such a financial mechanism should be part of the COP27 agreement to deal with loss and damage.

Overall, the success of COP27 will be defined by stronger mitigation commitments, new adaptation actions, an increased flow of climate finance for mitigation and adaptation actions, and a greater strong focus on the issue of climate justice by paying for loss and damage to climate-vulnerable people. countries.

Dr Fahmida Khatun is executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD). The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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