COP27: Watershed Moment for Climate Action
As the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) begins, expectations get higher, and with the contentious issues of loss and damage lingering on, climate finance, again, is likely to be the central theme at Sharm el-Sheikh. A plethora of reports that are released recently have re-emphasized the perils of further dithering during these critical negotiations adding to the pressure on all stakeholders.
A new report from UN Climate Change shows that the countries are bending the curve of global greenhouse gas emissions downward, while underlining that these efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. According to the report, the combined climate pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement could put the world on track for around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.
The same report also shows that the current commitments will increase emissions by 10.6% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. This is an improvement over the last year’s assessment, which has found out that the countries were on a path to increase emissions by 13.7% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. Last year’s analysis showed that the projected emissions would continue to increase beyond 2030. However, this year’s analysis shows that while the emissions are no longer increasing after 2030, they are still not demonstrating the rapid downward trend science says is necessary this decade.
The IPCC report in 2018 indicated that CO2 emissions needed to be cut 45% by 2030, compared to 2010 levels. The latest science from the IPCC released earlier this year uses 2019 as a baseline, indicating that GHG emissions need to be cut 43% by 2030. This is critical to meet the goals of Paris Agreement, which aims at limiting the rise of temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, and in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
A second UN Climate Change report on long-term low-emission development strategies looked at the countries’ plans to transition to net-zero emissions by or around mid-century. The report indicated that the greenhouse gas emissions of these countries may roughly amount to 68% per cent lower in 2050 than in 2019, if all the long-term strategies are fully implemented on time. The report notes, however, that many net-zero targets remain uncertain and get postponed into the future critical actions that need to take place now. Ambitious climate action before 2030 is urgently needed to achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement.
All the countries are expected to arrive at Sharm El-Sheikh with new emissions reduction commitments, making the record of Glasgow better than the last year, where more than 100 nations declared the reduction commitments, and yet fell short of the requirements for the 1.50C target set by the Paris Agreement. The conference was already stressed by the extended pandemic, the ongoing war in Europe, and questions of human rights and inclusivity. Additionally, the announcement of Coca Cola as a sponsor has caused a massive backlash from environmentalists from all over the world, and yet COP27 is being seen as a watershed moment for climate action.
About the Author:
Rituraj Phukan is an environmental writer, adventurer & naturalist based out of Assam. He serves as the National Coordinator for Biodiversity, Climate Reality India and is a member of the IUCN.