COP 27 and Climate Justice

At the time of writing frustrations were starting to emerge regarding the much publicised COP 27 UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The bone of contention is the thorny issue of “loss and damage” or financial support for developing countries hit by climate induced disasters–recurring floods and droughts. In truth there had been little progress till date on the technical details of how to deliver on deals and pledges made in previous years. More than 130 climate-vulnerable countries are demanding a new ‘’loss and damage” fund. The big polluters–US and China–however, are not listening. Then the climate and environmental consequences of Russia-Ukraine conflict are yet to be assessed.

So far, Pakistan, Ghana and Bangladesh will be among the first recipients of funding from a G-7 ‘Global Shield’ initiative to provide funding to countries suffering from climate catastrophe, according to a programme announced at the COP 27 summit. But this is no answer to the enormity of the problem.

India, meanwhile laid out the steps it will take to achieve net zero by 2070 releasing its Long- Term Low Emissions and Development Strategies (LT-LEDS) at the COP 27 gathering. Due to extreme weather in some parts of the globe the number of displaced people is expected to grow to about 143 million by mid-century.

India’s preparations for COP27 are focused on demanding that the industrially advanced countries pay a fair share of the investments needed for effective and speedy climate mitigation, and adaptation, and compensate for loss and damage that is already happening. India and other countries of the Global South are entitled to an equitable atmospheric space and to resources needed to cope with the climate crisis already underway. After all, the industrially advanced countries have contributed a vast majority to the accumulated stock of GHG responsible for the climate crisis.

The first national report on the state of the climate crisis called ‘Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region’ revealed that India’s average temperature increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius between 1901-2018. India is already paying massive economic costs of climate breakdown. As per the Global climate risk index 2020, India suffered an absolute loss of $37 billion due to climate change in 2018. A recent RBI study predicts that “a persistent increase in temperature in India in the absence of risk-mitigating policies can cause the per capita GDP to reduce by 6.4 percent by 2100”.

Investments in renewable energy and technology transfer should be geared toward facilitating a society-wide transition to renewable energy and the development of climate-resilient social and economic infrastructure. At the same time, any compensation for loss and damage should be used to address the vulnerability experienced by the most marginalised people within India. India’s climate and environmental policy leaves many a question unanswered:

How does the government of India in association with state governments plan to prepare for climate-related disasters, such as heat waves and floods that have become increasingly more frequent? How does the government seek to protect the most marginalised, who are also most vulnerable to climate impacts and climate disasters? What do the Centre and state governments plan to do about the longstanding crisis in agriculture, specifically, dryland agriculture, which the climate crisis is making worse? Is the recent entry of the private sector, particularly the Adani group in the mining sector conducive to ensuring a just transition away from coal? If anything the Adanis are acquiring more virgin coal blocks in Bengal and elsewhere.

The hard fact is that political parties, left and right alike, do hardly bother about the gravity of the climate crisis. They have no headache about how coastal India, more precisely coastal Bengal and Odisha, will be under sea due to global warming and sea-level rise not in the distant future.


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Vol 55, No. 22, Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2022