Looking forward to COP 26 with big hopes
By R. P. Narayan
These days we have been witnessing unprecedented storms, floods and wildfires around the world. Air pollution sadly affects the health of tens of millions of people and unpredictable weather causes unforeseen damages to our life, livelihood and cattles as well. But while the impacts of climate change are devastating, measures in tackling these are leading to cleaner air, creating jobs, restoring nature and at the same time unleashing economic growth. All such agenda will be taken up at COP26, the global conference being held in Glasgow, UK, between 31 October and November 12, 2021. Prime Minister Sher BahadurDeuba is scheduled to take part in the summit leading the Nepali delegation.
COP 26 was originally scheduled to take place from 9 to 19 November, 2020 in Glasgow, UK. But on 28 May 2020, the COP Bureau decided to withhold due to coronavirus pandemic.
This conference is the first time that parties are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since COP21 held in Paris in 2015. Parties are required to carry out every five years, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, a process colloquially known as the ‘ratchet mechanism’.
For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits called COPs. ‘In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. With the More than 190 world leaders are expected participate the global event. Similarly tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens will be engaged for dialogues twelve days. Not only is it a huge task but it is also not just yet another international summit. Most experts believe COP26 has a particular urgency.
Looking back to COP21, the first time ever, something momentous happened: every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims. The Paris Agreement was born. The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming results in the tragedy of many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how far they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’. They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time. The run up to this year’s summit in Glasgow is the moment when countries update their plans for reducing emissions. But, the commitments laid out in Paris did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the window for achieving this is closing. The decade out to 2030 will be crucial. So as momentous as Paris was, countries must go much further to keep the hope of holding temperature rises to 1.5 degrees alive.
The targets announced in Paris would result in warming well above 3 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. If we continue as we are, temperatures will carry on rising, bringing even more catastrophic flooding, bush fires, extreme weather and destruction of species.
As part of the Paris Agreement, every country agreed to communicate or update their emissions reduction targets every 5 years as their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to reflect their highest possible ambition and a progression over time. These targets set out how far countries plan to reduce emissions across their entire economy and/or in specific sectors. Year 2020 marked the first of these five year cycles. While targets are important, they must translate into action, fast. Which is why developed countries must rapidly phase out coal power, and all countries should commit to not opening or financing any new coal-fired power stations across the world.At the same time, actions have been a must to provide developing countries with better support to deliver clean energy to their citizens. Recent fossil fuels shortage had created an alarming situation for applying renewable energy technologies urgently.
Forests play a vital role in removing carbon from the air. Protecting them is critical if we are going to meet our climate goals, and right now they are still being lost at the rate of a football pitch every few seconds. Working together with and encouraging countries to reform the global trade in agricultural commodities (like beef, soy and palm oil) have been proved to be an instrument. That means sustainable production is rewarded, helping farmers to make a better living while forests are protected.
And finally, we need to clean up our air and reduce carbon emissions by switching to driving zero emission cars, vans and trucks. Many countries have committed to adopt electric mobility with suitable timelines. If strong signals are spread to the industry, investment, they will shift more quickly to new, clean technologies, and all countries will be able to enjoy the benefits sooner.
As the most vulnerable are at the greatest risk from climate change, and that they have done the least to cause it. Action to address this and build resilience is needed now, before more people lose their lives or livelihoods. The international community must unite and support people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate. We need more action to avert, minimise and address the loss and damage that is already occurring from climate change. Plans and more finance need to be put in place to improve early warning systems, flood defences, and build resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid further loss of life, livelihoods and natural habitats.
Protecting and restoring habitats is a powerful way to boost resilience to the impacts of the changing climate. They help to build natural storm and flood defences, whilst flourishing ecosystems contribute to sustainable farming and support billions of lives worldwide.
Developing countries in particular need supports, so as developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100 billion every year in climate finance to support developing countries. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that $78.9bn of climate finance was mobilised in 2018. This must include building new markets for adaptation and mitigation and improving the quantity, quality and access to finance to support communities around the world to take action on the changing climate.
Ahead of COP26, strong actions are must to take to work to unleash the trillions in private finance that are needed to power us towards net zero by the middle of the century. To do this, every financial decision needs to take climate into account. This includes all private investment decisions, but also all spending decisions that countries and international financial institutions are making as they roll out stimulus packages to rebuild economies from the pandemic.
Keeping in view recent natural disasters including landslides and floods in the country and snow melting in the Himalays, Nepalese delegation has been expected to raise voice on loss and damage compensations. The country also has to put strong voice on extensive financial and technical supports for rapid actions to develop renewable technologies to minimise use of fossil fuels for transportation, industries and residential uses.