BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - After the release of the latest climate related scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February, a team of experts and environmental technocrats from different countries are sitting in Bonn, Germany from June 6 to 16, to analyse the findings so as to advise policy-oriented needs during the forthcoming 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) in Egypt.
The Conference of Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that binds together 197 member countries also known as parties, which usually meet every year to discuss matters related to climate change, review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments, adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of scientific findings.
During last year’s COP in Glasgow, Scotland, leaders from developing countries urged all nations to embrace such scientific evidence and urgently implement bold mitigation and adaptation measures to avert the looming climate catastrophes.
“Climate change poses an existential threat to most countries in the African continent,” said Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta noting that the country’s extreme weather events including floods and droughts, lead to losses of 3 – 5% annual Gross Domestic Product in his country.
Why hold expensive conferences to discuss climate change?
Nearly all scientists believe that the changes in climatic conditions being experienced all over the world such as storms, floods which lead to landslides, droughts, warming of oceans which lead to destruction of aquatic biodiversity, and even change of seasons have been caused by human activities.
According to a scientific journal – Nature Conservancy, humanity’s accelerated burning of fossil fuels and deforestation (forests are key parts of the planet’s natural carbon management systems) have led to rapid increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global warming.
Since time immemorial, scientists have shown that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane prevent a certain amount of heat radiation from escaping the earth’s atmosphere back to space, making the earth a warm place for life to thrive. To balance this, human beings and bacteria breathe in oxygen and carbon dioxide out, then plants do the opposite to consume the carbon produced by humans.
However, the more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the warmer the earth gets. Burning more fossils therefore means more carbon in the atmosphere, and cutting down trees, means that there will be no plant to absorb the excess carbon dioxide, which makes the earth warmer than usual – a concept known as global warming.
The main threats of climate change, stemming from the rising temperature of Earth’s atmosphere include rising sea levels, ecosystem collapse and more frequent and severe weather.
It is therefore through such climate negotiations that parties (countries) meet under the UNFCCC to negotiate the best way possible to reduce further emission of greenhouse gases, how to contain the existing excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and how to help communities cope with disasters that have been caused and are still being caused by extreme weather conditions.
Gains of the COPs and bottlenecks so far
Experts and developing country representatives believe that the most important fact is that the discussions have started, and are ongoing. Though, despite the discussions having been held for more than two and a half decades now, some people argue that there has been no notable gain.
However, Africa’s civil society representatives think otherwise. “The gains may not be very visible, but with the establishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), it is a step forward for the developing and poor countries,” said Charles Mwangi, the Acting Executive Secretary at the Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), an umbrella of more than 1000 civil society organisations in Africa.
The GCF was established within the framework of the UNFCCC as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
The other financial facility is the Adaptation Fund, which is a financial instrument under the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC agreement in 1992 in Kyoto, Japan) and has been established to concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing country Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, in an effort to reduce the adverse effects of climate change facing communities, countries and sectors.
However, the biggest bottleneck, according to representatives from the developing world, is the means of accessing money from these climate finance facilities.
“Challenges remain in accessing GCF support due to a myriad of complexities surrounding the GCF NAP readiness Support Programme. Procedural complexities, unstandardised formats and long review processes of submitted proposals are but a few examples,” said said Munir Akram, the Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN and the current Chair of the 134 developing coutries who are members of the G-77 and China.
The hallmark of the entire climate negotiation process was the ratification of the Paris Agreement, which emanated from the 21st round of negotiations held in Paris, France in 2015.
The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries' ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts.
To facilitate this, developed countries agreed to mobilese at least $100 billion every year in support of the developing countries to adopt to climate change.
Moving towards COP 27 in November 2022
As we move towards COP 27, we call upon the developed countries to honor their pledges, we call on the available climate finance mechanisms to ease their proposal stringent rules to make more affected communities access the funds, and above all, we are joining the G – 77 and China in calling for a special dedicated finance facility for ‘Loss and Damage’,” said Mwangi.
African parties including the civil society are also looking forward to the negotiators according the continent special circumstances, given that it emits less than four percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is the most impacted continent.
They are also calling for implementation of the Global Goal on Adaptation, an often overlooked aspect of the Paris Agreement that was established to increase the status of – and financial flows to – countries' adaptation activities.
The 27th round of negotiations will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from November 7 to 18th this year.