COP28: The Global South Demands a Seat at the Table in Climate Change Negotiations

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A damning report from UN Climate Change emphasizes that current national climate action plans fall short of restraining global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a crucial goal of the Paris Agreement

Is turning the 1.5°C target from the Paris Climate Accord into reality still possible? The answer seems to be a resounding no. Despite strides in renewable energy, global temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions persist in shattering records.

The most recent Emissions Gap Report by the UN Environment Program (UNEFP) paints a stark picture, highlighting the urgent need for global low-carbon transformations. To achieve a 28 percent reduction in predicted 2030 greenhouse gas emissions for a 2°C pathway and a 42 percent reduction for a 1.5°C pathway, substantial action is required. Shockingly, global greenhouse gas emissions hit a new high of 57.4 Gigatonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, marking a 1.2 percent increase from 2021 to 2022.

A damning report from UN Climate Change emphasizes that current national climate action plans fall short of restraining global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a crucial goal of the Paris Agreement. The report underscores the necessity of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels, to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

It’s evident that major countries aren’t doing enough to cut the emissions. The UN report says: “Countries with greater capacity and responsibility for emissions—particularly high-income and high-emitting countries among the G20—will need to take more ambitious and rapid action and provide financial and technical support to developing nations.”

On November 30, governments worldwide will convene in Dubai for COP28, the 28th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This critical summit aims to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on low- and middle-income countries, predominantly from the Global South.

Despite the 2010 pledge to provide $100bn annually to the least developed countries through the Global Climate Fund, the targets are unmet, with figures indicating less than 10 percent fulfilled. The broken promise of climate finance will be one of the major agenda in COP28.

The conference is poised to conclude the inaugural Global Stocktake, assessing progress toward the Paris Agreement’s goals, including limiting warming to 1.5°C or above pre-industrial levels, enhancing adaptations to climate change, and increasing climate finance flows to developing.

A significant focus of COP28 is the transfer of technology and knowledge. Low-income countries, including Nepal, advocate for a post-2023 roadmap, aligning with the 1.5 °C target. To this end, the UN Secretary-General plans a pivotal event in 2025, where countries can present Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)  in line with the 1.5°C target.

Following COP27’s agreement to establish a fund compensating vulnerable countries for climate-induced loss and damage, COP28 faces the challenge of defining and operationalizing this crucial fund.

Compensation for climate change-induced loss and damage is a right, not a request for assistance, says Rupak Sapkota, foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

“The prime minister will prominently draw the attention of the international community about this issue both at the main session as well as in other sideline events.”

There has been an agreement regarding the operationalization of Loss and Damage Fund and a framework in this regard was finalized on Nov 4 this year. But concerns persist over the World Bank’s role as an interim host, prompting reservations from developing countries.

As the global community grapples with loss and damage, Nepal remains a vocal advocate, emphasizing the devastating impact of climate-induced disasters on its population. The COP28 agenda includes a final decision on the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund.

A briefing prepared by LDCs states: “Ensuring support to address loss and damage remains a critical issue of LDC, which is already suffering from the adverse impacts of climate change. This includes the cost (both economic and non-economic) resulting from devastating cyclones in Malawi, sea-level rise in Kiribati and Tuvalu, glacial lake outbursts in Nepal and Bhutan. The COP28 is expected to take a final call on operationalization of loss and damage funds.”

Nepal’s 2021 national framework on climate change underscores the urgency, revealing that climate-induced disasters contribute to 65 percent of annual disaster-related deaths. With the average annual economic loss at 0.08 percent of GDP, and extreme events like the 2017 Tarai floods, causing a 2.08 percent loss. Besides, multiple other studies have predicted an increase in loss and damage caused by climate-induced disasters in the future. So the need for urgent action is undeniable.

Nepal is taking center stage in international forums, specifically highlighting the plight of mountainous regions. Prime Minister Dahal’s invitation to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to witness the impact of climate change in Nepal’s Himalayas speaks volumes. Guterres is likely to raise the issue of mountains in COP28.

To highlight the plight of the mountains In COP28, Nepal plans high-level events on the sidelines of the conference to champion the causes of mountainous countries. On Dec 2, Nepal is set to organize the event titled Call of Mountain: Who saves us from the climate crisis.

Sapkota says Nepal is projecting itself as a champion of agendas of mountainous countries.

“Though Nepal has been raising the issue of mountains for a long time, the international community has not paid much heed. This time the prime minister is trying to raise this issue in clear and unequivocal terms.”

Here is a list of the main negotiating groups at the COP:

G77 (and China) 

This group of 77 countries was founded in 1964 and has since grown to 134 countries, often aligned with China.

It is the largest negotiating bloc and functions throughout the UN system, beyond the UNFCCC.

Its party chair rotates annually, with Cuba currently at the helm for the first time.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) 

The LCD group consists of 46 countries and brings together—as its name suggests—the world’s poorest nations. It is currently chaired by Nepal.

The topics at stake in the COP negotiations sometimes result in the LDC taking a different viewpoint from the G77.

Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)

CVF brings together 58 countries with a combined population of 1.5bn people that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.

Founded in 2009, it is currently chaired by Ghana.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

SIDS is a coalition founded in 1990 of 40 low-lying islands or archipelagos threatened by rising sea levels. It is chaired by Samoa.

Despite its small size, it is widely recognised for its vocal role in the climate talks.

European Union (EU)

The EU bloc groups the 27 member states to agree on one common negotiating position.

The presidency of the European Council is held by Spain until the end of the year.

Umbrella Group

This group formed following the 1997 adoption of the Kyoto Protocol and is made up of a number of developed nations: Australia, Britain, Canada, the United States, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway and Ukraine.

It is generally opposed to the G77 or the LCDs.

BASIC

The BASIC bloc groups four large newly industrialized nations: Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

It came together in 2009 during COP15 in Copenhagen.

Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC)

AILAC was established as a formal negotiating group in 2012 and represents a coordinated position for the countries of the North and South, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala (its current chair), Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Chile.

 

Source: The Annapurna Express ( Kamal Dev Bhattarai)