In the upcoming two weeks, global leaders, industrialists, activists, and indigenous communities will gather at the 28th instalment of the Conference of the Parties (COP). This annual event aims to make progress in persuading all 190 member countries of the United Nations climate framework to take action in transitioning their economies away from fossil fuels.
GS3- Environment- Environmental Pollution and Degradation
What are the overarching principles that have come to govern global agreements on environment? How does the COP28 provide a platform to address the progress made on past agreements? (15 marks, 250 words).
Progress on the Paris Agreement:
- The current objective is to fulfil the joint commitment made in Paris in 2015, wherein nations pledged to work towards limiting the increase in global temperatures to no more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by the century’s end, with an absolute maximum of 2°C.
- Despite unanimous agreement among countries that there will be severe consequences if these limits are exceeded and the majority of major economies outlining ambitious national plans to contribute, scientific data indicates that instead of decreasing by 8% annually, emissions have actually increased by 1.2% between 2021 and 2022.
- If this trend persists, the world is projected to experience a temperature rise of 2.5-3°C by the end of the century. This year alone, there have been 86 instances of global temperatures surpassing the concerning 1.5°C threshold.
- Over the course of almost three decades of COP meetings, major economies have agreed upon three overarching principles.
- Firstly, countries that experienced rapid industrialization in the 20th century have disproportionately contributed more carbon emissions than their ‘fair share,’ considering the sustained population.
- Secondly, economic growth based on fossil fuel consumption, though cheaper per unit compared to renewable energy, is seen as a potential disaster.
- Thirdly, developing nations and those with limited industrial infrastructure today should be compensated for adopting cleaner, albeit costlier, non-fossil fuel sources to fuel their economic growth.
- Additionally, there is a consensus that countries already grappling with climate disasters should receive compensation and support to enhance their infrastructure.
Challenges Ahead and COP28:
- Despite these principles being widely acknowledged, translating them into action proves challenging due to mutual suspicion, a growing spirit of de-globalization, and the fear of political reprisals faced by government leaders within their constituencies.
- Two major issues are anticipated to take center stage: the conclusion of the Global Stocktake and the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund.
- However, there is a lack of clarity regarding the fund’s size and the specific contributions individual countries will make.
While COP meetings typically tend to be self-congratulatory, often resulting in agreements with intricate caveats, COP28 is urged to align with its stated objective of being a gathering that compels its signatories to take decisive action.