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The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

Expectations of COP27: To be or not to be that’s the question

Mozidur Rahman Biswas

Published: 01:02, 22 November 2022

Expectations of COP27: To be or not to be that’s the question

The 27th United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP-27) ended in Sharm Al-Sheikh, Egypt with major focus on the sanctioning of financial assistance to poor countries, though it ended without a concrete and final decision due to some constraints. This is no doubt a frustration for poor countries, especially South Asian countries. Going back, we know the first UN climate conference was held in Berlin, Germany, in 1995. At the historic COP-21 summit held in 2015, member states ratified the Paris Agreement being a ground-breaking agreement on what countries should do to combat the effects of climate change.
Under this agreement, each country pledged to publish carbon emission reduction targets and actions taken on adaptation measures to combat the effects of climate change. The countries were also committed to down the temperature current global peaks at "pre-industrial levels." It was a collective and coordinated effort to reduce global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. At the time, governments also set an ambitious target of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
COP-27 is the 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This annual meeting brings together the 198 members of the UNFCCC Convention to discuss concerted action to address the impacts of global climate change. The  representatives from various countries  discussed  climate change mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions that make our planet increasingly warm),adapting to the environmental impacts of climate change, moving away from fossil fuel use and potentially becoming more disaster resilient to adapt to the effects of climate change including comprehensive discussion  on identifying ways of assistance.
COP-27 is a do-or-die moment for global action on climate change as the Earth is currently unable to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. After last year's natural events across the globe, this reality of weather havoc  mounted further for the entire mankind, animals, trees  and the whole nature that abounds in the globe.
The ongoing economic impact of COVID-19, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the added impact of climate change in the form of various disasters have created significant obstacles to international cooperation, including reducing climate-carbon emissions. In this situation, the Paris Agreement is on the verge of irrelevance and as such  the organizers  hoped for a successful COP-27, essential to sustaining the field of international cooperation in helping developing countries deal with the damage caused by climate change.
Last year the Climate Conference, Cop 26 held in Glasgow, Scotland previously ended with the Glasgow Climate Consensus which included ending fossil fuel subsidies and a pledge to reduce the use of coal-fired power. COP 26 also finalized the Paris Rulebook, Article 6, which paves the way for carbon emissions trading. But, OP-26 was a significant disappointment for developing countries, as the conference was supposed to accelerate financial assistance from developed countries to combat the permanent and irreversible damage caused by climate change and could not achieve any such progress in terms of target fixed in the relevant areas. There is no denying the fact that the Glasgow conference acknowledged the need to address climate change and loss and damage, the session ended without clear direction on providing financial support to overcome it.
South Asian countries are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as droughts, extreme cyclones and other disasters, erratic monsoons and altered water cycles in ecologically fragile regions such as the Himalayas-one of the region's most likely to be affected by climate change-induced migration and displacement in South Asia. During  2022 alone, several extreme events hit South Asia, like devastating floods in Pakistan affected at least 33 million people and caused at least $10 billion in damage. Bangladesh is one of the world's most affected countries due to climate change's effects. Day by day, the impact of climate change is becoming more severe and intense. Earlier this year, massive floods displaced and destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people in the northeastern region of Bangladesh. The recent Cyclone Sitrang's damage is yet to be overcome. Limiting global warming is a life-and-death issue for those who struggle to cope with extreme weather.
Experts have  earlier proposed several suggestions to world leaders at COP 27. A platform of Dhaka University students called 'Dhaka University for Climate Action has offered 9 points of recommendations ahead of the COP 27 to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and emphasize renewable and sustainable energy compatible with the local environment. The main focus of all such recommendations was to ensure climate justice in harmony with cultural and social norms in line with global changes.
Focus on protecting and empowering women in all climate change initiatives-conservation of forests and trees in connection with the livelihoods of small ethnic groups. Use local knowledge in all climate change planning and local identification in victim identification. Enacting basic  climate  rights such as fundamental human rights.  International  recognition of the planned destruction of the environment as 'ecocide'. Ensuring transparency and accountability in climate change data, statistics and survey results, strengthening governments, imposing international sanctions on polluting multinationals, etc. On the other hand, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has urged the developed countries to agree on the roadmap's announcement at the COP-27 climate conference to collect the compensation due to the countries affected by climate change, including Bangladesh.
TIB says climate adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries have stalled as a result of the impact of the coronavirus, rising fuel oil and gas prices due to the Ukraine-Russia war, and increased military spending by developed countries. It also mentioned that Bangladesh and other affected countries should be convinced at the meeting to announce a roadmap for the payment of compensation promised by developed countries. The distressful  events, such as floods, tsunamis, cyclones and wildfires have become more pronounced worldwide due to climate change. However, the use and export of carbon-emitting fossil fuels have increased, and funding for coal-based energy projects has increased. As a result, the affected countries should be vocal in collecting the compensation money.
In this connection, TIB viewed, 'Developed countries have failed to provide $100 billion in climate finance every year from 2020, despite making commitments. Although the climate fund is 'additional to development aid' and 'new and additional', only $83.3 billion has been disbursed over the past two years, combining climate finance with development aid without scrutiny. Among them, the maximum is a $20 billion climate fund. According to TIB, it was impossible to set up a separate fund to deal with damages at the 2021 climate conference due to the obstruction of developed countries. Instead, support for food security and environmental and biodiversity conservation activities in affected countries have been reduced. In light of the Paris Agreement, climate change adaptation, mitigation and financing should be emphasized in the upcoming conference, and Bangladesh and other affected countries should play a vital role in their interests.TIB also mentioned that "new" and "additional" aid is also being provided as loans, as the Paris Agreement lacks a consensus definition of climate finance. Seventy per cent of the total global climate finance disbursed so far has been in the form of loans. On the other hand, the $100 billion per year pledged in 2009 is no longer sufficient due to rising temperatures and natural disasters. The need for climate funding will be $140 to $300 billion annually by 2030. It is, therefore, necessary to set new collective targets for financing to meet the growing adaptation and mitigation needs of affected countries.
Despite all such frustrative and  positive expectations,  the COP27, again  ended without any such fruitful result due to the reluctance  of the developed countries. But the entire mankind of the poor and developing world will continue to hope that the demands will be implemented in the best interest of developing world as wekk as for our mother Earth.   
The writer is a senior journalist and he can be reached at mrbpress@gmail.com

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