Do COP Meetings Reflect Developing Countries’ Urges? -Tanjim Ara Eijhum

International

The recently concluded COP27 was widely seen as a COP for developing countries. Leaders from about 200 countries and about 30,000 people participated in that conference. As the world is currently not in a position to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius, our expectations from COP meetings were not sky-high. In this situation, it is only possible to avoid disaster if actions are taken immediately. But surprising us, COP27 has made some progress and deferred many decisions to the next year. The breakthrough decision established a loss and damage fund which will be operationalized by COP28 in 2023. This was important for developing countries who contested at COP27 to compensate countries that are most vulnerable to climate-induced disasters and have contributed little to the climate crisis.
For Bangladesh, climate finance has been one of the major topics that were broached by their delegates at the COP27 meeting. Indeed, climate change is having a negative impact on the environment all over the world. The intensity of heat in summer and extreme cold in winter conveys the bad news. Two drastic floods in Sylhet this year and Cyclone ‘Sitrang’ in coastal areas show ominous signs of climate change. Also, floods, fires, cyclones, and unprecedented heat waves in various countries have disturbed the world.
According to data, 2022 is the most critical year due to climate change. This year alone, China had to face temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius for 70 days. Europe has experienced its longest drought in at least 500 years. The United States had to overcome disasters like droughts, floods, and wildfires. Floods had caused extensive damage to Pakistan. India had to bear the temperature of 49 degrees Celsius. South Asian countries are more vulnerable to climate disasters. Cyclones, Droughts, erratic rainfall, and even the Himalayan water cycle are changing regularly.
Since last year’s COP26 climate conference, the governments of the world have not made sufficient progress in their plans to reduce carbon emissions. Among the issues discussed at the COP27 conference are the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, climate adaptation, and the commitment of developing countries to finance climate action. Noteworthy, the reduction of carbon emissions into the atmosphere was also called for in previous conferences. Through the previous conference, carbon-emitting countries were asked to bring down the quota to carbon zero by 2050. But there is no sign of its implementation.
On the other hand, many countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. It also pledged to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by reducing carbon emissions. But the rest of the countries except Germany did not take any effective action. There are many reasons for that too. The economies of poor and developing countries are largely dependent on fossil fuels. But fossil fuels emit large amounts of carbon. Therefore, to reduce the amount of carbon, the number of fossil fuels must be reduced. To this moment, developing countries cannot reduce fossil fuels at will. That is why developing countries affected by climate change have been demanding the creation of funds.
It is worth mentioning that COP27 did not start with great expectations. Till the last day of the conference, most people believed this would be an inconsequential meeting. But eventually, it has achieved outcomes that will have far-reaching implications for international climate collaboration. The European Union has agreed to create a fund called the ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ for countries affected by climate change at the COP-27 conference. The funds will be used to combat climate damage and rescue and rebuild poor countries’ physical and social infrastructure and help adapt to climate change adaptation processes. Although compensation has been sought by countries affected by climate disasters in previous conferences, rich countries have been opposing it. Therefore, agreeing to form the ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ can be said to be a major achievement of the conference.
Hopefully, the US Inflation Reduction Act’ has been enacted to resolve the climate crisis. Under this law, greenhouse gas emissions in the United States could be reduced by about 40 percent. Eco-friendly energy will also increase in power, transport, and industrial sectors. On the other hand, the EU aims to increase the use of renewable energy by 40 to 50 percent by 2030 under the name ‘Re-Power EU’.
As a result, the use of greenhouse gas will decrease. Australia is one of the top 5 coal-producing countries. Australia has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 43 percent by 2030. China burns about half of the world’s coal. However, after 2030, China has stated that it will not allow the rate of carbon emissions to increase. India has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. For that purpose, India wants to be able to supply half of the country’s total energy from renewable sources. The Paris Agreement called for aid to affected countries like Bangladesh. It was supposed to ensure a fund of $100 billion every year from 2020 onwards. But it was not fulfilled. However, the COP-26 conference set a deadline of 2023 to secure that funding. During the COP27 conference, Bangladesh has demanded to developed countries to double the climate finance by 2025.
Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse impacts of climate change. To stop global climate change and reduce disaster risk, we need to truly implement Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement, and the Sendai Framework. Countries that emit large amounts of carbon must take immediate action to stop greenhouse gas emissions without wasting any time.
The author of this article has completed her post-graduation in International Relations from University of Dhaka