UPSC Essentials: Issue at a glance — COP-27 and its dialogue with world

The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 24-11-2022 | 02:35 pm

UPSC Essentials: Issue at a glance — COP-27 and its dialogue with world

The COP27 is significant due to the agreement on loss and damage. But the meet did not address several other pressing issues. Let’s learn from basics to advance about COP27 for your exams and general knowledge.Relevance:Climate, Environment and Ecology are very essential areas for UPSC prelims, mains and personality test. The big event this year, COP-27 is a prominent issue for your examination. We go from basics to advance to learn about COP-27.Syllabus:Preliminary Examination: General issues on Environmental ecology, Bio-diversity and Climate ChangeMains Examination: General Studies III: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.Why in news?— Recently COP-27 got concluded in Egypt. It was the first climate summit held in Africa since 2016. The next conference will be hosted by Dubai in 2023.What is COP?According to unfccc.int:— The Conference of Parties (COP) is the apex decision-making body of the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC).— The UNFCCC was formed in 1994 to stabilize the greenhouse gas emissions and to protect the earth from the threat of climate change.— A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emission inventories submitted by Parties. Based on this information, the COP assesses the effects of the measures taken by Parties and the progress made in achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention.— The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise. The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March, 1995. The COP meets in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat, unless a Party offers to host the session.— Just as the COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized UN regions – that is, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others – there is a tendency for the venue of the COP to also shift among these groups.What is COP-27 ?— According to un.org, on 20 November, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), that took place in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh, concluded with a historic decision to establish and operationalize a loss and damage fund.— UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that more needs to be done to drastically reduce emissions now. “The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.” “The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree temperature limit,” he stressed, urging the world not to relent “in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition.”   “We can and must win this battle for our lives,” he concluded.— From 6 to 20 November, COP27 held high-level and side events, key negotiations, and press conferences, hosting more than 100 Heads of State and Governments, over 35,000 participants and numerous pavilions showcasing climate action around the world and across different sectors.What is the major takeaway from COP-27 2022 at Egypt ?— India and other countries engaged constructively and actively on the subject of loss and damage, which refers to destruction caused by climate change-induced disasters. For example – money needed for relocating people displaced by floods — was a long-pending demand of poor and developing countries, including India.— The new loss and damage fund is a testament to the perseverance and tenacity of climate vulnerable countries and civil society groups.What is loss and damage fund?— The decision by nations around the world to establish a fund to help poor countries hit hard by a warming planet was one of the most significant since UN climate talks began 30 years ago.— It was an unequivocal confirmation that poor countries, with limited resources, are being most impacted by extreme weather events like floods, heat waves and storms and, at least at some level, industrialized nations that have done the most to contribute to climate change have a responsibility to help.What is the history behind loss and damage funds?— In the early 1990s, the Alliance of Small Island States, a group of low-lying coastal and small island countries, began calling for the establishment of a loss and damage fund as the United Nations was creating a framework to deal with climate change on an international level. Since then, the idea has always been a part of annual U.N. climate summits.— However, it was often talked about on the margins of negotiations, something developing nations and activists would push for while many rich nations used their weight to squash the idea. For the first time, at this year’s COP27, it was included in the agenda and became the centerpiece of discussions.Who will fund it?—The fund will initially draw on contributions from developed countries and other private and public sources, such as international financial institutions, with an option for other major economies to join down the line. The final text points to “identifying and expanding sources of funding,” something the EU, the U.S. and others had pushed for during negotiations, suggesting that nations that are both high-polluting and considered developing under the criteria, should also pay into the fund.— During the talks, China said money for the new fund should come from developed countries, not them. But there’s precedence for China to voluntarily pay into climate funds, if the U.S. does too. When the Obama administration pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund in 2014, China also paid $3.1 billion for the fund.More details of who pays will be decided by a committee that plans to get the fund going within a year.Who will get the money?— The deal says the fund will assist “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change,” though there will be room for middle-income countries that are severely affected by climate disasters to also get paid. Pakistan, which was devastated by flooding that put a third of the country underwater, or Cuba, recently battered by Hurricane Ian, could be eligible.— How the loss and damage fund will fit in with “other institutions, agencies that are out there doing humanitarian work, helping people rebuild, dealing with migration and refugee crises, dealing with food security, water security” will need to be worked out, said David Waskow, the World Resources Institute international climate director. Those details will also be hammered out by the committee in the coming year.What else you should know about loss and damage funds?1. Rebuilding trust— Beyond just financial help, setting up the fund is seen as a huge step forward, but how it’s ultimately viewed will depend in part on how fast it can be set up. In the closing session Sunday, Antigua’s Lia Nicholson said the transitional committee should be set up immediately and given clear mandates.“This loss and damage fund must become the lifeboat that we need it to be,” she said. There is a credibility gap because of past broken promises.— In 2009, rich nations agreed to provide $100 billion a year to help developing countries transition to green energy systems and adapt to climate change. However, to date, that initiative has never been fully funded.2. Repercussions— One of the main reasons that rich nations long opposed such a loss and damage fund was the fear that it would open them up to long-term liability.— Despite passage, that concern is very much still at play, as evidenced by how negotiators made sure the language of the fund didn’t say “liability” and that contributions were voluntary.— Despite those caveats, the establishment of such a fund could have repercussions, both legal and symbolic, in climate circles and beyond. For example, several Pacific Island nations have been pushing for the International Court of Justice to consider climate change.— They argue that international laws must be strengthened to protect their rights in the case that their lands are engulfed by rising seas. The establishment of a loss and damage fund could bolster those arguments.What are the major misses of COP27?Amitabh Sinha in “At COP27, one hit and many misses” highlights the following points:— The Sharm el-Sheikh climate meeting will probably always be remembered for its decision to set up a loss and damage fund. This decision has earned it a place among the major milestones in the global response to climate change.— But on most other parameters, the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting — the 27th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP27 — proved to be an underachiever. The meeting was built up as the ‘implementation COP’ or the meeting that would accelerate the actions being taken on climate change. The final agreement had little to justify that expectation.1. Mitigation— Going into the conference, it was expected that COP27 would respond to the growing urgency for greater emission cuts. Most scientific estimates now suggest that the 1.5 degree Celsius target for temperature rise is likely to be breached within a decade. With current efforts to reduce emissions, the world is headed to a temperature rise of about 3 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times by the end of this century.— There were different ways in which COP27 was expected to respond to this. One of the ideas, floated by the European Union, was to ask every country to strengthen their respective climate actions every year from now to 2030, a radical suggestion that was unlikely to have met with approval from most countries. As of now, the countries have to upgrade their climate actions every five years. The latest upgrade was just this year.— Another idea was to call for a phase-down of all fossil fuel use. This was unlikely to have done much to reduce emissions in the short term, but would still have been meaningful towards the larger objective of curbing the use of the main causes of global warming.— The idea, proposed by India, was initially expected to be opposed by developed countries, especially since their dependence on oil and gas has increased in the last one year. However, after initial hesitation, both the EU as well as the United States backed the proposal. The opposition came from within the ranks of the developing countries, especially from the oil-producing Gulf nations. The matter was not pushed.— The least that was hoped for on this front was an inclusion of a stronger mention of the goal of pursuing the 1.5 degree Celsius target. It would have been little more than a statement of intent. But even that was not agreeable to all.— The only decision in this regard was to continue the discussions on a work programme set up last year to “urgently” scale up mitigation action. COP27 decided that two global dialogues would be held each year as part of this work programme.2. Adaptation— Most of the conversation on climate actions is focused on mitigation efforts. Developing countries, who are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, have often argued that adaptation is not given sufficient attention.— Adaptation involves efforts that help a country to negate or deal with the impacts of climate change.— At the Glasgow climate meeting, an effort was initiated to define global goals on adaptation, just as the 2 degree or 1.5 degree Celsius targets serve as the global goal for mitigation.— Defining global goal on adaptation is much more complex, considering that benefits of adaptation accrue locally, not at a global level. If at all, there would be multiple global goals on adaptation. It was hoped that COP27 would make some progress on identifying the adaptation goals.— However, nothing much was delivered on this track, except for expressing support to the Glasgow-Sharm el-Sheikh work programme that is scheduled to finish its work next year.— Another expectation was to see some money flowing in for adaptation purposes. Developing countries have been demanding that at least half of climate finance should be directed towards adaptation projects. Some countries, including the United States, did promise some money, but it wasn’t more than a trickle.— An important initiative on adaptation came from the UN Secretary General, who unveiled plans of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to set up early warning systems in areas that do not have them. About one-third of the world, including about 60 per cent of Africa, is not equipped with early warning and climate information systems. The WMO said this needs to be corrected in the next five years. The COP27 agreement said it fully supported the initiative, and invited development organisations and international financial institutions to help the effort.3. Finance— The biggest disappointment, not surprisingly, came in matters related to money. The developed countries have not yet delivered on their promise to mobilise USD 100 billion every year, something that should have happened in 2020.— All that the COP27 final agreement did about this was to “express serious concern”.Interestingly, the COP27 agreement, for the first time, quantified the financial needs for climate action. It said about USD 4 trillion had to be invested in the renewable energy sector every year till 2030 if the 2050 net zero target was to be achieved.— Additionally, at least USD 4-6 trillion was required every year for global transformation to a low-carbon economy. About USD 5.9 trillion was needed by the developing countries in the pre-2030 period, just to implement their climate action plans.— The developed countries have said they will ensure the USD 100 billion flow from 2023. A parallel discussion is going on to scale up this amount from 2025.Additionally, the COP27 agreement has urged international financial institutions to simplify their procedures and priorities, so that it is easier for developing countries to access money for climate actions.Though the idea of loss and damage reparations is nearly as old as global climate change negotiations, mitigation and adaptation dominated COPs for nearly three decades. There was a growing feeling amongst countries with the highest vulnerability to climate change, but with a minuscule GHG (greenhouse gases) footprint, that their concerns were not being addressed. The devastating floods in Pakistan, this year, led to the amplification of the demands for climate reparations.What will/should be some of India’s actions in the coming five decades on the issue of climate?Vaibhav Chaturvedi and Pallavi Das writing in The Indian Express highlight India’s long-term strategy for low carbon development.— Sectoral transformations are key – India has prioritised six strategic sectors — electricity, transport, urban, industry, carbon dioxide removal and forests. Of these, electricity and industry sectors together account for over three-fourths of India’s CO2 emissions, while rapid changes are happening in the transport and urban systems.Finance and investments – According to a Council on Energy, Environment and Water assessment, India will need $10 trillion to achieve the 2070 net-zero target.— Changes to LiFE – LiFE is India’s call for citizens, communities, industry leaders, and policymakers of the world to adopt a lifestyle for the environment.Investment in research and innovation – Identifying multiple technologies in the energy and industry sectors that need to be explored and scaled up. Innovations on business models are equally important to push low-carbon technologies.— Adaptation, resilience and international cooperation – The need for strengthening basic infrastructure like irrigation systems and disaster-resilient buildings, institutional infrastructure for better disaster response, and raising incomes to bolster capabilities of individuals and communities to adapt to the long-term impacts of climate change. This needs international cooperation, and multilateral initiatives and platforms.— Carbon pricing through the emission-trading scheme as a key instrument – Creation of a domestic carbon market .Ranjan Kumar Ghosh, a faculty member at IIM Ahmedabad and Chairperson of its Centre for Management in Agriculture writes in The Indian Express:— “In a country like India, small and marginal farmers form the majority and agricultural production decisions are made as a response to government policies such as minimum support prices, import protection, and credit availability. Since actions towards GHG mitigation from food, land, and agriculture have immense co-benefits with respect to human nutrition, soil health and water conservation – these should be central to our domestic strategies. Changing food habits and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices are the key to climate change mitigation.”—The National Hydrogen Mission launched in 2021 aims to make India a green hydrogen hub. The country also has clean energy plans such as 20 per cent ethanol blending with petrol to burn less fossil fuel by 2025 and an electric vehicle project has been on the government’s anvil for at least five years.Point to ponder: COP-27 is a lost opportunity in providing resilience to climate change. Discuss.MCQ:“Climate Action Tracker” which monitors the emission reduction pledges of different countries is a : (2022)(a) Database created by coalition of research organisations(b) Wing of “International Panel of Climate Change”(c) Committee under “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change”(d) Agency promoted and financed by United Nations Environment Programme and World BankPost Read Q&ACan you recall what you read?1. What is COP?2. Who will fund and who will get the fund with respect to loss and damage fund?3. What did COP27 miss?4. What are the main strategies of India in effective mitigation of climate change ?The UPSC Essentials Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest updates.Note: Catch the UPSC Weekly Quiz every Saturday evening and brush up on your current affairs knowledge.

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