What is expected and what is not expected from COP28 in Dubai

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What is expected and what is not expected from COP28 in Dubai

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As yet another Climate Change Summit, aimed at curbing emissions and slow down global warming, begins in Dubai, expectations needs to be tempered about what is possible in the next two weeks of global negotiations.

About 80,000 participants including political leaders, diplomats, business managers, academicians, researchers have gathered in Dubai to participate in the 28th Conference of Parties or COP28. The Conference of Parties is held annually by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As Dubai is a known to be one of the most lively and vibrant cities in the world with a certain happy feel about it, it can be expected that at least some of this happiness can spread to those participating in COP28 meet.

Unfortunately, that feeling of happiness does not seem to extend to rest of the world. There are several factors to make the world anything but happy. With Ukraine and Russia in northern Europe, Israel and Palestine in Middle East, internal wars in Syria, Sudan and Sahel, the number of battlegrounds around the world seems to be on the rise without any end in the sight. The United Nations Security Council, that is charged with ensuring international peace and security, continues the efforts to bring the battles to an end but has not managed to achieve much.

Beyond the war between nations or people, there is another war that has been on for decades, but which has now gripped the whole world and is increasingly becoming not just more widespread, but also more violent. This is the battle that has been waged by humans on nature and environment.

Categorically, to varying degrees, all humans are responsible in starting and continuing this war. The choice of path to the human development has now caused nearly irreversible damage to the nature. Now, it seems to the turn of Mother Nature to hit back and it is hitting back hard. There has been a sharp rise in the frequency and occurrence of various natural catastrophes like droughts, floods, landslides, wild fires, heat waves and extreme cold weather that have started affecting the human society across the borders of the countries. The hostages are poor of the world and they are rising in numbers.

As per UN report released this year, extreme weather has caused the deaths of two million people and UYD 4.3 trillion in economic damage over the past 50 years. The tragedy is that the poor suffer the most in extreme weather. The rich have their economic muscles, not only to ensure their survival, but also to continue their onslaught on nature by emitting Green House Gases.

The richest 1 pc of the global population is responsible for the same amount of carbon emissions as the world’s poorest two-thirds, or 5 billion people, according to the research results released in November 2023. The worst, the rich people continue to invest their money more in polluting industry.

The planet is caught in vicious circle of chaos in which even rich would perish. We do not know when but perish they will. Because the rich depend on the market consisting of these very 5 billion people to make their money. As the market starts suffering the rich would suffer too! As the dooms-day scenario says, ‘sixth planetary extinction’ is on its way. The fifth extinction was 65 million years back when dinosaurs and ecosystem vanished. One can only wonder what would become extinct this time around.

To use United Nations term used in Agenda 21, rather sarcastically, no one has been left behind by nature in its onslaught, reflected in rising intensity and frequency of climate disasters. And nature has been literally ‘inclusive’ in destruction of human habitats!  But let us not make a mistake, this war is also result of the battles between factions. Factions that divide Global South from Global North, the developed and developing countries, the rich and the poor countries. The factions also include Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), indigenous groups, powerful fossil fuel business, farmers and so on.

What happens in COP28 in Dubai’s battleground in the first half of December 2023 may not result in a bloodshed, but the consequence would be drenched in bloodshed caused by mass migration and starvation. At every climate change meeting, pledges and promises are made by 198 countries that are party to climate conventions, only to forget them before they even reached home.

The 195 countries that are Parties to Paris Climate Agreement committed through Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) to reduce emissions of Green House Gases or GHGs. What is more, commitments were made by the developed countries to provide USD 100 billion every year to the developing countries for reducing the emissions. But the promises and pledges are not met, implementation is not only slow but also miserable and inadequate and almost suicidal.

The decade from 2010 to 2019 had the highest increase in greenhouse gas emissions in human history, the last four months of 2023 are hottest on the records, the last 11 months have caused the highest economic losses due to extreme climate events. The window to limit warming to 1.5°C, the target set by the world leaders in Paris Climate Agreement is rapidly closing and the gap between where emissions should be and where they are, is widening fast as per the UNEP Emission Gap Report (EGR) released recently.

Will COP28 be any different?

Experts have stated over last one year their expectations ranging from strong action oriented negotiations, making mitigation and adaptation finance available to developing countries as matter of emergency to operationalising loss and damage fund, focussing on non-CO2 greenhouse gases like methane, community-based and sub-national climate actions, undertaking out-of-box technologies including  Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR), space reflected solar electricity and so on. But there are also several outcomes that are not expected from this meeting.

Firstly, world is not expecting non-verified claims by countries, particularly by world leaders in COP28. Such claims promote greenwashing or misleading the public to believe that climate action is being taken for NetZero. There is more risk from greenwashing than the climate crisis itself, as stated by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Secondly, the world does not expect that the vital issues related to  mitigation, adaptation and finance are side-lined, with focus remaining on irrelevant issues. Recently we have witnessed  commotions like  denouncing UAE’s presidency as oil-nation’s presidency, prioritising the action on mitigating fugitive methane by ignoring the reduction of emissions of Carbon Dioxide, inclusion of private finance in meeting the governmental public finance pledge of USD100 billion annually from 2020, asking China to contribute to the finances to developing countries, prioritizing carbon-offset, changing the definition of developing countries to ‘least-developing-countries, uncertain schemes like carbon-trading and carbon removal by overlooking the mitigation through lifestyle change.

Thirdly, the world does not expect that speeches by world leaders with deceptive declarations, diplomacy-coated falls promises delivered in the COP. In this context decision of President Biden not to attend COP28 is indeed welcome. Better not to be there than tricking the world with fake-pledges!

Fourthly, the world does not expect alternative technologies like battery operated EVs and Solar Panel be considered as climate-friendly unless the environmentally friendly reuse, recycle and disposal of panels and batteries are integral part of such technologies.

Fifthly, the world does not expect the issue of climate justice be discussed without historical context. Recently, British charity Oxfam said that the carbon emissions of the countries that were colonised should be assigned to the colonisers. World, in this context is not expecting to keep International Court of Justice excluded from the issue of climate-crimes during the World War III. Punitive measures could range from exposing the countries by ‘naming and shaming’ to more serious ‘climate-sanctions’.

Can the event underway at Expo City in Dubai succeed in meeting these expectations? Let us wait to see by end of COP28 if the negotiators are serious about delivering on what the world expects and also what it does not expect!


By Rajendra Shende is a former Director UNEP, Founder Director Green TERRE Foundation, coordinating lead author, IPCC that won Nobel peace prize, IIT Alumnus.

Originally Published at : https://mediaindia.eu/environment/what-is-expected-and-what-is-not-expected-from-cop28-in-dubai/?fbclid=IwAR17pzpYGwNtRdWOGO33Ex8wbg8wEpwMXCUWjN1BkayZ1PxfKmPiXglyaoM

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