Stockholm+50 supports phase out of fossil fuels, sustainable lifestyles
NEW DELHI: The Stockholm+50 meeting held on June 2 and 3 to commemorate 50 years of the first global meeting held in the Swedish capital on the human environment, came to a close with a statement that underlined the need for policies to promote phase out of fossil fuels and encourage sustainable lifestyles.
The co-hosts Sweden and Kenya drafted the statement with certain key recommendations based on inputs from UN member states and stakeholders through the meeting’s plenaries and leadership dialogues.
“The statement contains several recommendations for an actionable agenda, including, among others, placing human well-being at the centre of a healthy planet and prosperity for all; recognising and implementing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; adopting system-wide changes in the way our current economic system works, and accelerating transformations of high impact sectors,” the Stockholm+50 team said in a statement on Friday evening.
Some scientists and researchers, however, said the text of the statement is not strong enough in the face of climate emergency. For example, one of the recommendations is to change the way the current economic system functions.
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“Adopting system-wide changes in the way our current economic system works to contribute to a healthy planet, through defining and adopting new measures of progress and human well-being, supported by economic and fiscal policies that account for the value of the environment; investing in infrastructure, developing effective policy and encouraging a global dialogue to promote sustainable consumption and production; and promoting phase out of fossil fuels while providing targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances and recognising the need for financial and technical support towards a just transition,” the text reads.
One point of contention was the lack of a mention of “overconsumption” or “cutting back on consumption” which has led to the climate crisis which some researchers had highlighted on Friday also when the draft text was released. “The text continues to be soft and doesn’t stress much on fossil fuels phaseout. It mentions that such policies need to be promoted,” a researcher said.
“Such declarations will feel like empty words unless they are backed by investments in decarbonisation technologies, reliable grant-based finance for adaptation, policies to achieve announced climate targets, and lifestyle changes by the rich. The Stockholm+50 conference comes on the eve of the Bonn Climate Change Conference which will prepare the groundwork for COP-27.
“This includes the new Work Programme on Mitigation Ambition & Implementation, which aims to close the emissions gap for 1.5°C warming,” said Ulka Kelkar, director, climate program at World Resources Institute.
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The statement has 10 recommendations which include: 1. Place human well-being at the centre of a healthy planet and prosperity for all, through recognising that a healthy planet is a prerequisite for peaceful, cohesive and prosperous societies; 2. Recognise and implement the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, through fulfilling the vision articulated in principle 1 of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration; 3. Adopt system wide change in the way our current economic system works to contribute to a healthy planet; 4. Strengthen national implementation of existing commitments for a healthy planet, through enhancing environmental national legislation, budget, planning processes and institutional frameworks; 5. Align public and private financial flows with environmental, climate and sustainable development commitments, through developing and implementing well-designed policies to repurpose environmentally harmful subsidies.
Two of these recommendations are particularly important for India. One of them is on building a relationship of trust among countries. “Through recognising the importance of developed country leadership in promoting sustainability transitions; supporting capacity building and technology transfer for national efforts by developing countries to implement internationally agreed environmental agreements, taking into account national circumstances, including honouring the commitment to mobilise $100 billion every year for climate finance for developing countries,” the recommendation states.
India has been emphatically demanding that climate finance commitment of $100 billion be met by developed nations and climate finance be enhanced in view of the delay in acting on climate crisis.
India’s environment minister, Bhupender Yadav, in an interview published in Hindustan Times on June 3 had said India will pursue the issue of climate finance at the upcoming climate meeting in Bonn which begins on June 6. “We have held inter-ministerial meetings ahead of the Bonn meeting. The issues are clear. First is financial assistance to developing countries. The developed nations have not delivered on their promise of climate finance. Second is the finance for mitigation and adaptation should be matched and equal. Third, we need a multilaterally agreed definition of climate finance. India will pursue efforts for progress on loss and damages also. We are among the most vulnerable countries to the climate crisis which was felt again during the recent spring heat wave spell in India,” he said.
Another recommendation which India has articulated a number of times is on sustainable lifestyles. PM Modi had proposed the concept in Glasgow last November. “LIFE…L, I, F, E, i.e., Lifestyle For Environment… This can become a mass movement of an environmentally conscious lifestyle. What is needed today is mindful and deliberate utilisation instead of mindless and destructive consumption,” he had said.
The Stockholm+50 statement reiterates the point of sustainable consumption.