Shifting geopolitical arenas, dull economics, but will Cop27 once again gloss over real tasks for rhetoric?

The 27th session of the UN conference of the parties on climate change mitigation in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm-el-Sheikh intersects with a moment in which the high table of world diplomacy deals with the war in Ukraine and the power supply limitations that follow. Even if it rebuts the ambitious tone of the 26th Cop held in Glasgow last year, it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that around 45,000 participants, including 120 heads of state and government, are attending the meeting under the shadow of the Eurasian conflict. Amid the usual failings of the development division, the meeting will focus more on implementation issues than formulation issues.

Tempered expectations can also help to have a realistic vision of the roadmap to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. At last year’s Glasgow meeting, the UN Climate Action program described the challenge of presenting a plan for implementation as “the Paris rule book: the operational details for the practical implementation of the Paris Agreement”. The current meeting in Sharm-el-Sheikh appears to have prioritized this over the wide range of proposals made at previous summits. No wonder Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister and president of Cop27, has called this conference “the implementation police”.

In addition to the execution balance, the meeting began with a significant inclusion in the agenda, although it now seems a bit symbolic: the place of climate compensation in the formal agenda.

The guiding logic of such a demand is not complex. It is based on the principle that developed countries, which accumulate most of the pollutants, should compensate poor countries for bearing the brunt of extreme weather events. Even if that were not a difficult point to discuss on the principle of fairness, the current global economic scenario does not seem conducive to compensatory negotiations allowing much immediate progress. The developed world is on the brink of economic crises, and most rich countries are also facing the crunch of a slowdown: not the ideal time to commit financial resources to global commons obligations.

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As in all previous climate meetings, India and China would be watched for what they say and how they respond to what is said at the meeting. In one of the rare areas of their convergence of interests under adverse circumstances, together they constitute a great bloc to balance the concerns of the large economies of the developing world, the latter already an economic powerhouse and the former among the top five world economies, with energy use patterns for climate change mitigation.

The Indian delegation, led by Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav, has shaped its agenda with priorities that reflect continuity in its main concerns, a focus on the details of climate finance and showcasing India’s initiatives in mitigation efforts. .

For starters, the country will continue to seek clarity on climate finance, the vaguely worded commitments that have impeded the flow of funds for climate action to developing countries like India. India’s Ministry of Environment has emphasized this as one of the main concerns, as the Environment Minister also warned against the tendency of developed countries to “greenwash” financial transfers and pass off loans as aid. weather related.

India has been arguing that the lack of clarity or even precise quantification of climate finance has meant that developing countries cannot measure the exact extent of the flow of finance going to climate action. This is why India has reiterated the relevance of the maxim “what gets measured gets done”.

Furthermore, India is a key part of a large group of developing countries, which are still pressuring developed countries to accept new and likely more precise global climate action funding. It has been called the new collective quantified goal on climate finance. As cost adaptation and other forms of climate action have only expanded, the expectation would be that such targets would be set in the trillions.

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But the fate of the proposed NCQG seems unclear in light of the current economic crisis facing the developed world, as well as the funding history of previous climate finance goals. In 2010, five years before Cop21 resulted in the 2015 Paris Agreement, developed countries agreed to jointly provide $100 billion per year to developing countries by 2020 to help climate mitigation efforts. But according to UNFCCC estimates, their contribution through all means could not cross $83.3 billion.

That, however, has not stopped India from suggesting that in the meeting’s ad hoc working group, the discussion on NCQG needs to address both the quantity and quality of resource flow for mitigation, while also clarifying its scope.

In a statement highlighting New Delhi’s push to remove ambiguities seen in global climate finance proposals, the Environment Ministry noted: “Issues related to access and suggestions to improve the role of financial mechanisms are also are important. Furthermore, improved transparency is imperative to ensure proper oversight of the amount and direction of flows.”

Apart from these issues that form the backbone of India’s Cop27 agenda, India is ready to promote its approach of countering wasteful consumption expressed as LiFE – “Lifestyle for Environment”. India has been interested in harnessing soft power to introduce a solutions-driven alternative lifestyle, an approach that attacks the reckless misuse and waste of natural resources, and attempts a shift towards environmentally friendly consumption patterns. That is also the recurring theme of the India pavilion at Cop27.

Also in the past, India has drawn on its soft power resources to promote lifestyle solutions to the threat of environmental degradation. At Cop24 held in Katowice, Poland in 2018, India had themed their pavilion on yoga and attracted an impressive number of visitors. The current theme is based on the deployment of soft power for lifestyle messages and solutions that India has to offer to combat the scourge of destructive consumption patterns.

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Amid the shifting sands of geopolitics and a dull global economy, Cop27 would do well to be less rhetorical and more focused on the real task of finding a way to execute even part of the lofty commitments of the past. Being less ambitious, the Sharm-el-Sheikh meeting could be more useful and live up to its billing. That, however, must be complemented by not losing sight of some of the key issues that developing countries have brought to the conference with renewed focus. This double emphasis could be very useful even for the goals of the Paris Agreement before the summit concludes discussions next Friday.