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COP28 tasked with finding consensus on first global stocktake to meet Paris goals

ByJayashree Nandi
Nov 12, 2023 02:34 PM IST

India has underlined that equity, fair share of the global carbon budget, and obligations of developed country parties to provide finance for transition and technology transfer will be critical to address in the global stocktake

The first global stocktaking of the progress made on containing climate change, expected to conclude at the UN summit in Dubai in a few weeks, has received polarising views from nations that are signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The United Arab Emirates holds the presidency of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The United Arab Emirates holds the presidency of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

India has underlined that equity, fair share of the global carbon budget, and obligations of developed country parties to provide finance for transition and technology transfer will be critical to address in the global stocktake (GST). In its submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in September, India said equity has to be designed in the GST.

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“India has always maintained that Equity is an important component for preserving the collective and facilitative nature of GST, therefore a commonly agreed guidance to operationalise Equity needs to be designed in the GST, through inclusive equity indicators arrived at by Parties. Equity needs to be captured not only as an overarching but also a cross cutting issue in each and every element of the GST outcome,” India said.

Developed country parties must lead in the ambition of their climate action and support, and their efforts to achieve or exceed their commitments on mitigating the impacts of the climate crisis, India said.

The synthesis report of the first GST released by UNFCCC found that global efforts on the climate crisis are falling short of meeting the Paris Agreement goals of keeping global warming well under 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial times and pursuing efforts to keep it under 1.5 degrees, HT reported on September 9. This year, the 1.5 degree threshold was breached temporarily in certain months.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which holds the presidency of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) of the UNFCCC, where parties denote nations, is trying for consensus on contentious issues of GST.

“We don’t think about red lines. Our job is really to get countries together and deliver an outcome that all of us can have consensus on. Our job is to be that mediator. That’s what we did on the Loss and Damage piece. We went in and helped parties come to an outcome and we will do the same for the GST. We know that the GST needs to lay out how we can accelerate both ambition and action to bridge the gaps we know we face. We are getting a lot of great ideas from parties but at the end of the day it’s a party-driven process. We have already framed what we believe we need to see in the GST outcome in several of our letters sent to parties and now it’s for parties to deliver an outcome for us at COP28,” said COP28 director-general Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi.

Countries have varying expectations from the final round of discussions, which have been provided to the UNFCCC as submissions from February. The key negotiating blocs, including the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), G77 and China, BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) and African Group of Negotiators (AGN), Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay (ABU) have made submissions, along with individual countries and regions like the US, the UK, Australia and the European Union.

“While the different contexts of the Global North versus the Global South issue lead to differing perspectives on climate change concerns, consensus is crucial in this decade as the window to rapidly reduce GHG emissions by 2030 is closing,” the Centre for Science and Environment, an advocacy group, said in an analysis on Friday. “The GST process revealed the many existing debates with predictable opponents on each side that are holding us back from equitably furthering climate ambition.”

For instance, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, established under the UNFCCC, recognises that while all countries are responsible for acting on climate change, their historical obligations are different.

In their GST submissions, most developing countries, including India and South Africa, have demanded that the GST assesses pre-2020 failures by developed countries. Developed countries including US, Japan and UK have highlighted the rise of emissions since 2019 in emerging economies significantly contributing and, therefore, the GST should focus on the future, instead of looking towards the past.

Another polarised debate has been on acknowledging how the global carbon budget has been utilised so far. Historical emitters have used up a majority share of the global carbon budget (GCB) and developing countries must be allowed to use the remaining budget, countries like China and India have demanded.

The language on phasing down or phasing out of fossil fuels is also likely to raise a storm, experts said. These contentious issues are closely linked to delivery of finance; share of carbon budget exhausted; and per capita and overall emissions of countries. Global carbon budget is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that can be emitted to meet the 1.5 or 2 degree goal.

There should be a rule-based scenario for the post first GST period, CSE has recommended. “Today, China is yesterday’s USA; its per capita emissions will be equal to the USA in 2030. It will appropriate a share of the carbon budget equal to the USA in 2030. It should have been moved to the category of polluters. But now there is no way to do this. The zero-sum game continues. At our cost,” it said. “This is what the Global Stocktake should work to correct so that it builds the framework of action for the future.”

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