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Mainstream, VOL 60 No 50-51, December 3, December 10 2022 [Double issue]

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Dec 3, & Dec 10, 2022

Friday 2 December 2022

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Letter to the Readers, December 3, December 10, 2022

The big COP27 Climate jamboree with its 30,000 jet set delegates just ended in the Egyptian beach resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh (otherwise popular with Russian tourists). Climate and civil society activists at the conference faced some intimidation, harassment from the heavy handed Egyptian security and secret service, leading to a statement from prominent UN special rapporteurs to the Human Rights Council [1]. The conference was marked by the visible presence of the fat cats of fossil-fuel industrial lobby that pushed their own untested decarbonisation technologies as a green technical fix for the climate crisis and ruled out any talk of a phase out oil and gas. Climate justice activists present at COP27 at Sharm El-Sheikh commended the Official Indian delegation standing up for fossil-fuel economy phaseout to be included in the final draft agreement. The big take away of the conference in Egypt was the creation of the “loss and damage fund” intended for developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, this had been a key demand for the past decades. This fund is of course separate from the yet to be met climate finance commitments of USD100 billion, agreed upon at COP16 in 2010. A cross country committee is to look into needs and mechanics of funding of the new loss and damage fund, more clarity on this may emerge at the next climate conference to be held in Dubai in 2023. But the big questions on energy transitions, and funding remain. Will only the US, the European Union and other major countries of the developed west be the funders or will China the largest emitter of greenhouse gases also begin to contribute to fund developing countries. Will India also a big emitter that is now taking over the presidency of G20 also make some commitments to help with funding developing nations; and take a lead in showcasing ecologically friendly economic and social plans based on wide consensus? An OpEd by Prime Minister Modi promises us an ’inclusive’ agenda during India’s G20 presidency [2]. Will the Big Business barons run this train or will civil society and environmental activists have a say? Transparent citizen monitoring of the climate friendly projects and their finance is a must to avoid corruption and misinformation internationally and nationally. Given the past record of crackdown on human rights, environmental and civil society activism in India, it is doubtful that the Government will permit any scrutiny over its plans over climate and energy questions. Government of India made glowing announcements at the previous climate summit Glasgow of a future energy transition plan targets but there had been no prior discussion on these neither with representatives of opposition parties nor with civil society or climate justice activists in India. Government of India has been rolling back most national environmental protections in the name of ease of doing business giving the polluters a free pass but this has consequences beyond national borders. All governments sing to the tune of their corporate paymasters until they face a counter public pressure. As 2022 winds to an end it is time for Democratic forces and left formations to take up the environmental crisis seriously. Its better late than never!

December 3, 2022 —HK

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