COP 28

Bharat Dogra

COP 28 will be held at atime of increasing, perhaps overwhelming evidence that the targets set earlier to restrict global warming to 1.5 degree C above pre-industrial levels and to achieve reductions in GHG emissions are being badly missed and so the world is at present on course to see higher levels of global warming, accompanied by several other catastrophic and possibly irreversible changes, sooner than it was anticipated earlier. A primary aim of this year’s COP 28 is to evaluate countries progress half-way to the 2030 deadlines. Reports show that world is not on track.

A more immediate question which several people are asking is whether COP 28 can contribute to giving new hope?

Well, on the basis of past record, unfortunately the more likely answer is to be in the negative.

 One of the more selfless things COP 28 can still do is to admit not just its own failures, but also admit that the narrow paradigm within which it functions and the severe limitations of its processes and agenda make it unlikely that COPs by themselves can become the main vehicle for achieving significant success on this front.

 The narrow vision of COPs, the COP processes have also been adversely impacted, perhaps one should say corrupted, by big business interests. If big fossil fuel interests are allowed to have a big influence on COP processes and agenda, this is like assuming that those who cause problems will find effective solutions for them ignoring their self-interests. In the food and farm sector as well as in some other crucial sectors, big corporate interests are trying to take the world in the opposite direction of what is needed. Unfortunately, such corporate interests are also increasingly influencing and even funding several UN agencies, further reducing their credibility and that of COPs as well.

In the middle of these failures and setbacks, can people still find some hope? Yes, but only as a part of much broader efforts to create a world based on justice, peace and environment protection.

Several serious environmental problems led by climate change (but certainly not confined to climate change) have combined together to create conditions which can disrupt the life-nurturing conditions of the planet. In addition there is also the very important threat of the never-ending wars and the relentless arms race. This makes it very difficult to secure the international peace, cooperation and mobilisation that are needed to protect life-nurturing conditions of planet. This threat is manifested in its most extreme form in the accumulation of various weapons of mass destruction(including over 12,000 nuclear weapons, the use of just 10% of which is enough to destroy the entire world).

When the risks and stakes involved are so high, the patchy, incremental and uncertain agendas put forward at COPs are unlikely to achieve the bigger, time-bound results that are needed.

Hence we need a much broader agenda in which integrated solutions for some of the biggest problems can be found together. Hence it makes much more sense to link up efforts to resolve the environmental (including climate change) crisis with the efforts for peace and disarmament. In a no-wars world, it becomes much more possible to reduce militarisation and weapons-race (itself a big cause of GHG emissions) while also creating those conditions of international cooperation in which the various global efforts for checking climate change (including reformed COPs) and the wider environmental crisis have a much higher chance of success.

 Massive support of people including farmers and workers for this agenda of peace and environment protection can be obtained by linking this agenda closely with justice concerns. Once people’s livelihood interests and fulfilment of basic needs are linked closely with this agenda then their enthusiastic participation in afforestation, agro-ecology, green cities, soil and water-conservation etc. can be secured, and this can be the real game-changer.


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Vol 56, No. 23, Dec 3 - 9, 2023