The Nature of Future: The Big Victory for Climate at COP28

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The Nature of Future: The Big Victory for Climate at COP28 Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded on December 13.
  • Despite winning battles over language, the global stocktake presented at COP28 revealed grim findings about the world's progress in combating climate change.
  • However, there have been some positive developments and its important to have an assessment of these challenges and developments.

Assessment of the Current Status in Addressing the Threat of Climate Change

  • Ineffective Commitments: The IPCC assessment reports, integrated into the recent stocktake, reveal a troubling reality about the effectiveness of the current commitments made by states parties to the UNFCCC.
  • Insufficiency of NDCs
    • The latest science indicates that the present nationally determined contributions (NDCs), if fully implemented, will yield only a meagre 2% reduction in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 compared to 2019.
    • This falls far short of the 50% chance needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050.
    • Achieving this probability requires global emissions to peak by 2025, merely two years from now, followed by a 43% reduction by 2030 and a 60% reduction by 2035.
    • The enormity of this gap raises doubts about the feasibility of attaining these minimal targets, especially given the current global average temperature rise of 1.1 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial period.
  • Bleak Future Outlook
    • The disparity between the current trajectory and the necessary targets is stark, and leaves very little room for optimism.
    • The urgency of the situation becomes evident as the timeline for peaking emissions approaches rapidly.
    • Without a significant and immediate shift in our approach, the prospects of averting the worst impacts of climate change remain dangerous.

Major Challenges in the Fight Against Climate Change

  • NDCs’ Dependency on Rich Nations for Finance
    • The successful realisation of NDCs from developing nations is dependent upon obtaining essential financial and technological support from developed countries.
    • Unfortunately, the track record in this regard is disheartening.
  • Unmet Pledges and Questionable Sources
    • In 2009, developed nations pledged an annual sum of $100 billion to aid climate action in developing countries but this commitment has never materialised.
    • Serious reservations have been expressed regarding the $89.6 billion claimed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the year 2021.
    • A more rigorous analysis conducted by OXFAM challenges this figure, indicating that the actual amount may be significantly lower, amounting to less than $25 billion.
  • Inadequate Recognition in Declaration at COP28
    • Despite these concerns, the declaration includes the contentious $89.6 billion figure with a somewhat vague acknowledgment of a diversity of definitions of climate finance.
    • This inclusion raises questions about the transparency and accuracy of financial reporting and underscores the need for a more robust and universally accepted framework for measuring and reporting climate finance.

Reason Behind Inadequacy of Funding According to IPCC Report

  • Huge NDC Implementation Costs
    • The IPCC report estimates a staggering financial requirement for implementing the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of developing countries.
    • Between now and 2030, they would need $5.8-$5.9 trillion, roughly translating to $800 billion annually for the next seven years.
  • Adaptation Funding Gap
    • For adaptation efforts alone, the report identifies a substantial gap. Developing nations would require $215-$387 billion annually from now until 2030.
    • However, the current pledges to the Adaptation Fund stand at a mere $188 million.
  • Short Financial Commitments Despite Establishing Loss and Damage Fund
    • While COP28 established a Loss and Damage Fund, representing a positive development, the financial commitments fall significantly short. Pledges to this fund total only $770.6 million.
    • There is also uncertainty regarding the criteria for irreversible loss and damage from man-made climate impacts and the eligible developing countries.
    • India is deemed unlikely to be on the list of potential beneficiaries.
  • Widening Gap Between Science and Resources
    • The figures presented underscore a substantial disparity between the scale of effort required by scientific assessments and the available resources.
    • This mismatch becomes more distinct considering the urgency of addressing climate change within a rapidly shrinking timeframe.
  • No Realistic Assessment of Financial Flows
    • Given the prevailing conditions, with most developed economies grappling with low growth and inflationary pressures, the expectation of a dramatic increase in financial flows over the next few years appears delusional.
    • This raises serious concerns about the feasibility of bridging the financial gap needed for effective climate action.

Significant Outcomes of COP28 Climate Meeting

  • Framework on Transitioning from Fossil Fuels
    • COP28 marks the first time that the conference explicitly acknowledges the need to address the source of emissions; the fossil fuel-based energy system powering global economic activity.
    • The final declaration emphasises transitioning away from fossil fuels in an equitable, just, and orderly manner to achieve net zero by 2050, despite strong opposition from oil-producing states and multinationals.
    • Notably, there is a recognition of transitional fuels, including natural gas, in facilitating this energy transition.
  • Credible Targets for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
    • More credible targets have been set, such as tripling global renewable energy capacity to 11,000 GW and doubling the rate of energy efficiency gains from 2% to 4% annually by 2030.
    • India is highlighted as a frontrunner in both areas, signalling a commitment to sustainable energy practices.
  • Inclusion of Nuclear Energy, Green and Blue Hydrogen
    • COP28 introduces nuclear energy as a clean energy source, along with green and blue hydrogen.
    • These sectors align with India's current focus on diversifying its energy portfolio.
  • Group Initiatives and Alliances
    • Recent COPs have seen interested countries forming alliances and initiatives for climate action in specific sectors.
    • Noteworthy initiatives include the US-led effort to reduce methane emissions at COP26 and the establishment of the Powering Past Coal Alliance and a Nuclear Power Group at COP28.
    • India, however, tends to adhere to consensus targets adopted by the UNFCCC and expresses relief that the declaration calls for a phase-down rather than a complete phase-out of unabated coal power.
  • Linking Climate Change to Broader Ecological Challenges
    • The obvious linkage of climate change to adverse impacts on health, food security, and biodiversity loss is a welcome development at COP28.
    • This acknowledgment represents a move towards recognising climate change as part of a broader ecological challenge, emphasising the interconnectedness of interventions in various domains.

Conclusion

  • COP28 is seen as a step in the right direction, pointing towards the necessity of a cross-domain and cross-disciplinary approach to address deeply interconnected global challenges.
  • The outcomes of COP28 indicate positive shifts in addressing climate change, emphasising the need for transitioning from fossil fuels, setting credible targets for renewable energy, and recognising the broader ecological challenges associated with climate change.

Q1) What is the meaning of NDC? 

Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of its long-term goals. NDCs embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement (Article 4, paragraph 2) requires each Party to prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that it intends to achieve. Parties shall pursue domestic mitigation measures, with the aim of achieving the objectives of such contributions. 

Q2) What are Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) and their Origins?

GHGs mainly comprise of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, and other synthetic gases. CO2 has a dominant share in the total GHGs and its effects can last for more than a century. Thoughmethane is about 28 times more potent than CO2, its generation is much lower than CO2 and its ill-effects get wiped out in about 10 years.


Source: The Indian Express