Have We Lost the Fight Against Climate Change?


02:39 AM

1 min read
Have We Lost the Fight Against Climate Change? Blog Image

Why in News?

  • Like every year ahead of the COP summit, this year too many studies and reports have been released in the past month to assess where the world stands in the fight against climate change.
  • And just like every previous year, this year the situation appears grimmer, and the progress more marginal, than earlier.

 Latest Developments Suggesting Climate Change a Lost Cause

  • Temperature Milestone: The latest troubling news came on November 17 according to which the average global temperatures for the day went over 2 degrees Celsius compared to the temperatures before the industrial era, marking this happened first time.
  • Continuously Rising Emissions
    • According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by at least 43% from the 2019 levels by 2030.
      • This reduction is important to retain any realistic chances of keeping the rise in global temperatures within 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial averages.
      • This means that global emissions, around 56 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019, would have to come down to about 32 billion tonnes by 2030.
    • But according to Emissions Gap Report, emissions are rising. Global emissions in 2022 were at least a billion tonnes higher than in 2019. In fact, annual emissions have never shown a decline except in 2020, the Covid pandemic year.
    • Meeting the 2030 target would now mean ensuring a reduction of almost 9% every year on an average. This is almost impossible.
      • As a sort of comparison, even a disruption as big as Covid could cut emissions by just 4.7%.
      • Current levels of climate actions are projected to result in a reduction of just 2% emissions, or just about a billion tonnes, by 2030 from 2019 levels.
  • Adaptation Struggle of Small and Developing Countries
    • With temperatures continuing to rise, countries need to learn to survive in a warmer environment, and deal with the consequences of climate change.
      • For this, some countries, like the small island states threatened by rising sea levels, would want to build sea-walls, others would like to make their infrastructure more resilient.
      • Still, others would want to set up early warning systems, or invest in temperature-resilient agriculture or water resources.
    • Meeting these needs involves significant amounts of money. Developing countries anticipated (as per the Paris Agreement) to receive financial assistance from wealthier nations.
      • Unfortunately, there has been limited support. During the 2021 climate conference in Glasgow, rich countries agreed to double the funding for adaptation projects by 2025.
      • This commitment aimed to raise international adaptation finance from around US$ 20 billion to US$ 40 billion.
      • However, the latest UN report suggests that the availability of adaptation money has actually declined by almost 15% last year.
      • In the meanwhile, combined requirements of developing countries are estimated to be at least US$ 215 billion every year, more than 10 times the current level of flows.
  • Empty Loss and Damage Fund
    • Along with mitigation and adaptation, ‘Loss and Damage’ is the third important pillar of the fight against climate change.
    • After a long and painful struggle, developing countries managed to get a loss and damage fund established at the Sharm el-Shaikh conference last year.
    • The fund is meant to provide financial help to countries struck by climate disasters. But it is empty right now.
    • It is expected that some money would flow in this year, but it is likely to be inconsequential compared to the estimated need of US$ 400 billion every year.

Why Money is the Biggest Barrier in Fight Against Climate Change?

  • Reluctance of Rich and Developed Countries to Provide Financial Assistance
    • Much of the fight against climate change rests on the premise that the rich and developed countries would take the lead, not just in making emission cuts, but also in providing money to developing countries.
    • However, it is extremely naïve to have expected rich countries to take money out of their budgets and offer it to developing countries for climate action.
  • Broken Financial Flow System
    • Despite having almost complete control over the international financial flows, rich nations have not even been able to channelise private, development or aid money to the right places.
    • The last couple of years saw some talks about reforming the international financial system to align their priorities with the global climate goals. But nothing has materialised.
  • Outdated Promise of US$ 100 Billion: The US$ 100 billion annual flow, something that the developed countries had promised way back in 2009, has become outdated.
  • Growing Financial Requirements
    • Climate change fight requirements are now in tens of trillions of dollars every year. And this would rise rapidly with every year of delayed action.
    • This is likely to result in some low-cost, low-risk finance being made available to countries, but matching the scale of requirements would be extremely difficult.

Has the World Lost Against Climate Change?

  • The Fight is Over for 2030 Emission Reducing Targets
    • If it is about meeting 2030 emission reduction targets, consistent with 1.5 or even 2-degree Celsius pathways, the fight is as good as over.
      • Governments, international bodies, and even scientists, would like to focus on the theoretical possibilities that are still open.
      • However, it is extremely improbable that these targets would be met. Even historically, no climate target has ever been met.
    • As mentioned in the Emissions Gap Report, there have been 86 days already this year when daily temperatures exceeded pre-industrial averages by more than 1.5 degree Celsius.
    • And now, at least two days have been more than 2 degrees warmer.
    • The year 2023 is set to emerge as the warmest ever, surpassing the record of 2016, and it would not be surprising if it breaches the 1.5-degree threshold for the annual average.
    • According to a World Meteorological Organisation assessment, it is almost certain that this threshold would be breached in the next four years.
  • Yet, There Are Possibilities of a Pull-Back
    • There are still possibilities of a pull-back through technological interventions like carbon dioxide removal, though these technologies are far from becoming mainstream and economical.
    • But every climate scenario beyond 2040 relies heavily on these technologies to reduce the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and bring down temperatures rapidly.


  • Recent developments such as spike in global warming, ineffective response, and the resultant increase in weather-related disasters suggest that climate change might already be a lost cause, at least as far as meeting the targets the world has set for itself is concerned.
  • Eventually, countries would learn to minimise loss of lives in disasters, at least from the predictable events, but there would be more frequent disruptions and the poor and the weak would suffer the most.
  • But adversity can induce resilience in populations, therefore talks of extinction of the human race or an end to life on the planet might be vastly exaggerated.

Q1) What is The Kyoto Protocol? 

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997. Owing to a complex ratification process, it entered into force on 16 February 2005. Currently, there are 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. In short, the Kyoto Protocol operationalises the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by committing industrialised countries and economies in transition to limit and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in accordance with agreed individual targets. 

Q2) What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement is the successor of the "Kyoto Protocol." The agreement asked countries to set voluntary emission targets but required the richer countries to make financial transfers to the developing economies. It set a floor of $100 billion per year for these transfers. This was supposed to be over and above 0.7 percent of their national income which was the overseas development aid.

Source: The Indian Express