The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) 27 being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt provides an opportunity for the world to bring about much-needed steps to curb the climate change disaster that is facing us all today.
With its theme of “Loss and Damage”, COP27 will put special emphasis on addressing the damage that has already been caused and recompensing the affected countries for the same.
COP27 brought together more than 45,000 participants to share their thoughts and ideas, solutions, build partnerships and coalitions.
Indigenous peoples, local communities, cities and civil society, including youth and children, showcased how they are addressing climate change and shared how it impacts their lives.
The decisions taken reemphasized the critical importance of empowering all stakeholders to engage in climate action; in particular through the five-year action plan on Action for Climate Empowerment and the intermediate review of the Gender Action Plan also.
These outcomes will allow all Parties to work together with concerted efforts to address disparities in participation and provide stakeholders with the tools required to drive larger and more inclusive climate action at all levels.
The response thus far has not been in accordance with the gravity of the situation.
While the effects of climate change and global warming have been unravelling at a great pace, the measures needed to control these have been rather slow and incremental.
The annual global emissions have risen up to 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The Emissions Gap Report note that to achieve the target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial level, annual emissions must drop to 33 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 and 8 billion tonnes by 2050.
It is important to note that developed countries which have been historically responsible for global warming amounting to 77 per cent of the total share since 1850 have not been undertaking significant measures to check global warming either in terms of drastically reducing their own emissions or by way of climate finance and technology transfer to developing countries.
At such a juncture, India seems ready to lead by example and not only become the voice of the Global South but also an inspiration for the developed world. Take, for instance, India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution premised on ‘Panchamrit’ aims to achieve the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2070 and increase non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
It also sets a target of 50 per cent electricity requirements to be sourced from renewable energy sources by 2030 and reduce the emission intensity of GDP by less than 45 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
Additionally, it aims at reducing carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent till 2030.
India submitted its Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategy to the UNFCCC.
The strategy was launched by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupender Yadav, who is leading the Indian delegation to COP 27.
The document includes strategic transitions for seven major sectors — electricity, transport, urbanisation, industry, carbon dioxide removal, forests, finance and investment. India joins the select list of fewer than 60 parties that have submitted their LT-LEDS to UNFCCC with this strategy.
Notably, India achieved a 24 per cent emission intensity reduction in 2016 itself and is estimated to have reached 30 per cent by now.
By June 2022, India had already achieved 41.5 per cent share of non-fossil fuels in installed electricity capacity.
All this shows that India has displayed immense credentials and commitment in taking mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change.
In fact, India is the only G20 country which is on track to achieve its NDCs and climate targets.
COP 27 presents an opportunity for India to push for climate justice and the principles of equity and voice the just demands of developing and least developed countries.
India shall push for the effective enforcement of the principle of Common-but-Differentiated-Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR RC).
This shall be achieved by emphasising fair negotiations regarding climate actions.
CBDR RC is necessary to ensure equity and justice between Global North and Global South.
For instance, one cannot expect parity in actions between developing countries such as India which emits less than 1.9 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita, and developed countries such as the US emitting over 15.5 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita.
Moreover, India must also push for climate finance and technology transfer that developed countries promised to developing countries in their efforts towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The UNEP report suggests that developing countries are in need of $70 billion in adaptation costs alone. In such a scenario, merely $100 billion committed by developed countries for both mitigation as well as adaptation targets won’t suffice.
Additionally, India should strongly push for negotiations and discussions leading to constructive steps for “Loss and Damage” which is also the main agenda of COP 27.
The much-awaited Global Shield Against Climate Risks initiative was formally launched at the Vulnerable 20 (V20) pavilion at COP27.
It is a collaboration between the V20 group of finance ministers representing 58 climate-vulnerable countries and the G7.
The initiative is envisioned as a social protection and insurance-based finance mechanism for loss and damage outside the UNFCCC process.
The initiative will provide pre-arranged financial support designed to be quickly deployed in times of climate disasters.
Although the rate of global warming in the past decade was 33 per cent higher than in the 1990s, there is some improvement.
Before the COP 21 Paris Agreement, the planet was estimated to heat up by over 4.5 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial levels, the recent estimates peg it at 2.6 degrees Celsius, which is a stark progress.
Nevertheless, what is needed is not just a shift towards non-fossil fuel sources of energy, but it must be complemented with an attitudinal shift.
Here again, India with its clarion call of LiFE — Lifestyle for Environment, emphasising a healthy and sustainable way of living by following ways of moderation and involving mass participation, shows the way.
India is giving a message to the world, especially the industrialised world, that the mindset of “use and throw” must be replaced by the notion of a circular economy involving the 3Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle.