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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 45, New Delhi, October 23, 2021

COP26 and Climate Justice | Soma Marla

Saturday 23 October 2021, by Soma S. Marla


Remember the 2004 science fiction climate movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, that predicted extreme global warming, floods and other frightening weather changes. Proved true today with extremely high summer temperatures, blazing forest fires and floods in many regions across the planet. Today climate change is a reality. COP26, the next round of UN climate talk Conference of the Parties will be held in person in Glasgow, UK, from 31 October to 12 November this year.

The meeting attended by heads of state, diplomats, business leaders, campaigners and journalists from 197 nations will discuss the progress achieved since the last Cop25 on various steps taken to avert climate change in wake of Paris agreement in 2015. In Paris Summit, 197 countries agreed collectively cut emissions to limit global temperature rise “ below 2C” and strive for 1.5C. It means to keeping below 2° C with 650 Giga tons of carbon (one Giga ton is equal to 100 crore tons), the world nations should drastically make cuts in the release of emissions so as to go back to the 2010 levels To meet this goal, every country was asked to contribute emission reductions and set out targets- Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) achievable by 2030. The effects of climate change on communities particularly in the Global South are alarming, is a crisis driven by the ‘haves’, which hits the ‘have nots’ the hardest. Affluent West is a historical pollutant, leaving major carbon foot prints with 30 % of world population is accessing 75 % of resources from global South. The top 10 emitters (including China, the European Union and the United States) account for over two-thirds of global Green House Gases (GHG) emissions while poor 100 Southern nations account for only 3.6 % collectively. These countries are experiencing calamities such as severe droughts, shrinking biodiversity, rapid species disappearance, unseasonal rains and submergence of coastal land as a result of rise sea levels. India and other developing countries demanded the inclusion of common but differentiated responsibilities seeking greater responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Eventually Western nations agreed for establishment of yearly 100 bln $ worth of annual Green Carbon Fund (GCH), to help vulnerable nations ward off and adapt to the effects of climate change and reward Carbon credits for reducing carbon foot prints in environment. Similarly initiatives promoting low-carbon energy systems, non conventional energy generation, traditional nature friendly biodegradable product industry, energy efficient transport to drought-resilient agriculture, require some type of financial assistance.

A major issue for discussions of the Cop are negotiations on the legal mechanisms for governments to hold each other accountable in dispensing the GCH. The public-finance-dependent nature of the GCF portfolio necessitates its democratization. Justful spending of funds that can be achieved through transparency and accountability.

How Funds are Spent

It is interesting to look in to how of this Carbon fund has actually flown in to Global south. OECD data reveals that in 2017, developing nations could access only around 7.1 bln $ in loans but not as direct grants for ready use. Interestingly, a lion’s share of the GCF was appropriated by major global corporations involved in Green industry (mostly from production of renewable energy, green automobile industry) giants leaving away a minor fraction of annual 100 bln $ fund to climate vulnerable nations.

Adani Solar, India, largest private solar power generation firm, with a combined market cap of $100 bln received substantial grants from GCF (complete data not revealed). While ‘Vistaraku’, a small women cooperative from Telangana that makes bioddisposable food plates & cups using leaves of Palash tree could not receive a single dollar under carbon credits despite repeated requests to Task Force of GCF of COP.

Transparency and accountability are essential to monitor how public financed GCF is spent to benefit vulnerable communities in Global South. Forthcoming COP26 should improve accountability to ensure the funds are accessible to vulnerable communities involved in local green industry and and strengthen the capacity to adapt to climate change.

(Author: Dr. Soma Marla is Principal Scientist (crop Genomics) фе ICAR NBPGR, New Delhi)

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