Guterres prods climate change parties to act

The 27th conference mulls key issues in Sharm El-Sheikh

By Sudeep Sonawane
November 11, 2022

The 27th meeting of Conference of Parties [COP] currently progressing in Sharm El Sheikh, the resort town between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea in Egypt, is important to take further action on achieving the goals of 2015 Paris Agreement.
Sharm El Sheikh’s salubrious coast, pristine beaches, majestic coral reefs, and the Red Sea, though salty at 40 percent, has 14.7 percent fishes that are endemic species. The marine biodiversity should encourage COP27 delegates to take tough, but good decisions to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius limit.
Greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels, industries, cars, aeroplanes, agriculture and mining have increased the average global temperature in 2022 by 1.15 degrees Celsius above the 1850-1900 average, according to the UN’s climate scientists.
Dangerous disruptions
The Sixth Assessment Report released February 2002 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says, “Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. Hardest hit are people and ecosystems least able to cope.”
IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said, “This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”
The report calls for action to adapt to climate change by making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity. So far, progress on adaptation is uneven. There are increasing gaps between action taken and action needed to deal with the increasing risks. These gaps are largest among lower-income populations, the IPCC report warned.
Loopholes in criteria
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed on these gaps this Tuesday. Speaking at the launch of the report of High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments, he prodded climate change parties to act fast to mitigate causes of global warming. In his trenchant speech, the UN chief reminded delegates their responsibility.
“A growing number of governments and non-state actors are pledging to be carbon-free – and obviously that’s good news, he said. “The problem is the criteria and benchmarks for these net-zero commitments have varying levels of rigour and loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through. We must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing.
“The Expert Group report is a how-to guide to ensure credible, accountable net-zero pledges. It provides clarity in four key concerns: environmental integrity; credibility; accountability; and the role of governments.”
The Parties would do well to take harsh decisions for the greater good of the world that has suffered extreme weather episodes over the last ten years because of global warming. The delegates face a challenging task in Sharm El Sheikh. As Guterres said, “Global emissions must decline by at least 45 per cent by 2030 – and reach net zero by 2050. Pledges should have interim targets every five years starting in 2025.
Hope for consensus
Hopefully, member states will agree to achieve the world’s collective climate goal of 1.5 degrees reduction as agreed under the Paris Agreement and the Convention. This edition hopes to further build on the traction gained at COP 26 in Glasgow in 2021.
State and government heads attended the plenary session of the Climate Implementation Summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on 7 and 8 November. The Parties will hold the high-level session mainly attended by ministers from November 15 to 18.
As on November 9, 2022 the UNFCCC has 198 signatory Parties [197 States and one regional economic integration organisation. It came into existence after 154 member states signed a pact to set up the climate change body at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, aka Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992. The group set up the head office of the Secretariat in Bonn, Germany on March 21, 1994.
The Parties define climate change as long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns caused by humans, especially burning fossil fuels. The Parties combat the dangerous impact of humans on climate through a treaty. It achieves this goal by recommending Parties threshold limits to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.
The treaty urges Parties to pursue climate research, hold meetings to discuss and negotiate, and frame future policy agreements to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change. The Parties another key mandate works to ensure climate change does not threaten food production and enable economic development sustainably.

[Sudeep Sonawane, an India-based journalist, has worked in five countries in the Middle East and Asia. Email: []


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