Contents

  1. COP27, in Egypt, must focus on food systems

COP27, in Egypt, must focus on food systems

Context:

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow between October and November 2021 with a huge gathering, generating headlines, criticisms, and some commitments.

“Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread… It is time to go into emergency mode – or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero,” said UN Secretary.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Conservation of the Environment, International Treaties and Agreements), GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbors, Foreign Policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Conference of Parties (CoP)?
  2. Other important COPs in the past
  3. About COP26
  4. Climate crisis and hunger
  5. Adaptation is urgent
  6. Adaptation finance
  7. Way Forward

What is Conference of Parties (CoP)?

  • The word ‘COP’ stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. Here ‘the Parties’ are the governments which have signed the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • The COP brings these signatory governments together once a year to discuss how to jointly address climate change. The COP is hosted by a different country each year.
  • The conferences are attended by world leaders, ministers, and negotiators but also by representatives from civil society, business, international organizations, and the media.
  • The CoP comes under the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) which was formed in 1994.
  • The UNFCCC was established to work towards “stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”
  • It laid out a list of responsibilities for the member states which included:
    • Formulating measures to mitigate climate change
    • Cooperating in preparing for adaptation to the impact of climate change
    • Promoting education, training and public awareness related to climate change
  • The UNFCCC has 198 parties including India, China and the USA. COP members have been meeting every year since 1995.

Other important COPs in the past

  1. COP1: The first conference was held in 1995 in Berlin.
  2. COP3: It was held in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, the famous Kyoto Protocol (w.e.f. 2005) was adopted. It commits the member states to pursue limitation or reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. COP8: India hosted the eighth COP in 2002 in New Delhi. It laid out several measures including, ‘strengthening of technology transfer… in all relevant sectors, including energy, transport and R&D,  and the strengthening of institutions for sustainable development.
  4. COP21: it is one of the most important that took place in 2015, in Paris, France. Here countries agreed to work together to ‘limit global warming to well below 2, preferably at 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.’

About COP26

  • COP26 will see leaders from more than 190 countries, thousands of negotiators, researchers and citizens coming together to strengthen a global response to the threat of climate change.
  • It is a pivotal movement for the world to come together and accelerate the climate action plan after the COVID pandemic.
  • According to the UNFCCC, COP26 will work towards four goals:
    • Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach: The UNFCCC recommends that countries ‘accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables’ to meet this goal.
    • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats: Countries will work together to ‘protect and restore ecosystems and build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.’
    • Mobilise finance: To deliver on first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020.
    • Work together to deliver: Another important task at the COP26 is to ‘finalise the Paris Rulebook’. Leaders will work together to frame a list of detailed rules that will help fulfil the Paris Agreement.

Climate crisis and hunger

  • The agenda of ending world hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 is facing formidable challenges as the climate crisis and hunger are linked inextricably, and that along with several major drivers have put the world off track. This has been more so after the COVID-19 pandemic has doubled the population under chronic hunger from 130 million to 270 million.
  • Analysis by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) shows that a 2°C rise in average global temperature from pre-industrial levels will see a staggering 189 million additional people in the grip of hunger.
  • Vulnerable communities, a vast majority of whom rely on subsistence agriculture, fishing, and livestock and, who contribute the least to the climate crisis, will continue to bear the brunt of the impacts with limited means to cushion the blow.
  • The absence of social protection measures such as food safety nets forces the food insecure to depend on humanitarian aid for survival.
  • The poor and the vulnerable continue to be hardest hit. Even though they contribute least to greenhouse gas emissions, people in low-income countries face the worst impacts. The top 10 most food-insecure countries contribute 0.08% of global carbon emissions.
  • Crop failures, water scarcity, and declining nutrition threaten millions who rely on agriculture, fishing, and livestock (it must be reiterated that they are those who contribute the least to the climate crisis).
  • The climate crisis will impact food production and livelihoods but also, as per the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, threaten nutrition through multi-breadbasket failures.

Adaptation is urgent

  • Adaptation and resilience-building for poor and vulnerable communities are critical for food security. The focus though has been on reducing emissions and targets related as these are essential to protect livelihoods and the food security of millions.
  • In its outcome document, the conference took note of how climate and weather extremes and their adverse impacts on people and nature will continue to increase with rising temperatures.
  • There is a strong emphasis on the urgency of scaling up action and support, including finance, capacity-building, and technology transfer, to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change in line with the best available science, and considering the priorities and needs of developing country parties.
  • There is a strong emphasis on the urgency of scaling up action and support, including finance, capacity-building, and technology transfer, to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change in line with the best available science, and considering the priorities and needs of developing country parties.
  • The outcome document also extends an invitation to the IPCC to present at the COP27 (in Egypt) the findings from the contribution of Working Group II to its Sixth Assessment Report.

Adaptation finance

  • The recent pledges made by the developed countries on enhancing climate finance to support adaptation in developing countries to adjust to worsening climate crisis impacts were welcomed in the outcome document from COP26.
  • It observed that the contributions made to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, represent significant progress when compared with previous efforts.
  • The current climate finance for adaptation and base of stakeholders remain insufficient to respond to worsening climate change impacts.

Way Forward

Here are a few key areas or measures we should focus on:

  1. First, creating resilient livelihoods and food security solutions by protecting and improving the livelihood of vulnerable communities.
  2. Second, the adaptation of climate-resilient food crops, such as millets, for nutritional security.
  3. Third, enabling women’s control and ownership of production processes and assets and increased value addition and local solutions.
  4. Fourth, promoting a resilient agriculture sector by creating sustainable opportunities, access to finance, and innovation for small-holder farmers, with climate information and preparedness.
  5. Fifth, building capacity and knowledge of civil society and governments for vulnerability analysis to increase food security by addressing the link between food security and climate risk.

-Source: The Hindu

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