G B Sivanandam
The 27th Conference of the Parties to the UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE – UNFCCC COP 27 – took place between 6th and 18th November 2022 at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt under the presidency of Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, with more than 90 heads of state and 35000 representatives from 190 countries attending, including India.
Way back in 1992, countries joined an international treaty, the UNFCCC, as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change by limiting average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change and coping with impacts that were, by then, inevitable.
EXPLOITATIONS OF DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
The historical factors that gave rise to today’s inequitable world can be mainly attributed to the large- scale Western colonisation and conquest of indigenous and native people of Africa, Asia and Latin America between the 18th and 20th centuries which resulted in exploitation of natural resources and labour and fuelled fossil energy – oil, coal and gas. With the result of this fossil fuel powered industrialization, today’s developed countries have used more than their fair share of the total atmospheric carbon budgets. To reflect equity, this over consumption by developed countries should reflect in their actions to reduce emissions to real zero levels and increase the provision of finance and technology transfer to developing countries in helping them reduce emissions. But that is not happening.
This exploitation by the developed countries is mostly felt in Africa. Climate change is already causing shifts in growing seasons and increased dry spells and heavy rainfall. This has contributed to malnourishment and spread of vector borne diseases like malaria and dengue in Africa. Africa’s capacity to respond is undermined by economic insecurity, debt and a deeply inequitable global financial and trade system. However, despite being the least responsible for climate change, while being vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, African countries are already contributing more than their fair share to adaptation. Africans are now paying the bill for climate change related adverse effects caused by the historical emissions of developed countries.
LOSS AND DAMAGE FUND
Under such circumstances negotiators from nearly 200 countries at the COP 27 UN climate summit in Egypt took the historic step of agreeing to set up a LOSS AND DAMAGE FUND meant to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters and agreed the global needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly by half by the year 2030. It marks the first-time countries and groups, including long time contributors like the United States and the European Union which have agreed to establish a fund for nations vulnerable to climate disasters made worse by pollution disproportionately produced by wealthy industrialised nations. The agreement also reaffirmed the goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, the attempt to phase out all fossil fuels ended in a fiasco after a number of nations blocked the key proposal. Important questions about who will manage the Loss and Damage Fund, who will contribute, and how much they will contribute have all been left to a transitional panel reporting to next year’s COP28.
As such COP 27 is a mixed bag with developed countries coming forward to set up Loss and Damage Fund, whereas, the success and implementation of the same depends on the commitment and real concern for humanity at large by the developed world, which has been questionable.