Explained | Why the talks about 1.5 ° C on the edge of a cliff at COP27?

Protesters demonstrate on climate justice during the UNFCCC’s COP27 climate conference on November 12 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. | Photo credit: Getty Images

The story so far away: Following the ratification of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the focus is on voluntary national actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global average temperature rise well below 2 ° C and the most as close as possible to 1.5 ° C by the end of the century. All nations that have signed the pact under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at COP27, to review progress, increase ambition on emissions cuts and develop financing plans to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. But the scientific community is losing hope that the rise in temperature can be stopped in time, before uncontrollable turning points are reached, leading to catastrophic climate change that will harm human health, biodiversity and agriculture. This resulted in global protest movements. Young people in particular are reluctant to their uncertain future.

Why does the 1.5 ° C target seem unattainable?

UN scientific reports contributing to understanding climate change published prior to the COP27 meeting in Egypt indicate the extremely narrow window available to bridge the emissions gap and prevent average temperature rise above 1.5 ° C.

UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2022 states that while all Nationally Determined Conditional Contributions (NDCs) – voluntary commitments presented under the Paris Pact – followed by targets to reduce emissions to net zero are implemented, global warming is projected to increase to 1.8 ° C with a 66% probability. The report also points out that global annual emissions in 2021 of 52.8 Gigatonnes (GtCO2e) represent a slight increase compared to 2019, the year before COVID, and that the prospects for 2030 are not rosy. Collectively, G20 members account for 75% of emissions, although it is the richest countries that are responsible for the emissions accumulated by the industrial revolution.

At the conference on Egypt, scientist Johan Rockstrom said the key turning points are the potential collapse of the Greenland ice sheet, the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet, the thawing of the northern permafrost and the death of the tropical reef, all of which are expected to occur at 1.5 ° C. These and other estimates of temperature impacts were reported in a recent article in the journal Science by Armstrong McKay and others. The hotspots represent moments that precipitate irreversible changes, with a domino effect on other elements such as monsoons and heat waves. To put things in perspective, prof. Rockstrom said the current temperature rise is between 1.2 ° C and 1.3 ° C above the pre-industrial average, the highest in about 12,000 years since the last ice age. With current soft approaches to limiting atmospheric CO2, it will be nearly impossible to achieve the 1.5 ° C target.

What do scientific reports say about relapse?

COP27 is described as the implementation conference, as UN climate talks are often criticized as a “talk more, do little” exercise. However, official reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) informing the UN system have reminders for participating leaders, whose national commitments fall short of the necessary reductions. The IPCC’s latest sixth assessment report (SAR), with great confidence in its near-term (up to 2040) conclusions, states that biodiversity loss, Arctic ice loss, threat to coastal settlements and infrastructure all will be experienced, while conflicts, migration of affected people and urban challenges to access to energy and water could also arise. Beyond 2040 and through to the turn of the century, the IPCC report paints a grim picture. At 2 ° C, there could be a drop of up to 20% of snow melt water for irrigation, a decrease in water for agriculture and human settlements due to the loss of mass of glaciers and a double increase damage from flooding, while up to 18% of species on land could become extinct.

Of particular concern in tropical regions is the projected increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as cyclones, particularly in the medium and long term up to 2100. The SAR states that “the displacement will increase as heavy rainfall intensifies. and associated floods, tropical cyclones, droughts and, increasingly, sea level rise ”.

What is the focus of the COP27 negotiations?

The countries most affected by the effects of climate change have sought compensation for damage and losses from the most industrialized nations, which have contributed most of the CO2 into the atmosphere. Strengthening this compensation mechanism is one of the main areas of concern in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The background of emissions is explained as follows: The CO2 level at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii was 416.22 parts per million (ppm) on November 11. The level was 315 ppm in 1958 and the pre-industrial revolution level was 280 ppm, a record in the United States to show. Emerging economies and small climate-affected countries claim that they are not responsible for this stock of CO2 and many want the creation of a huge loss and damage fund, separate from the $ 100 billion a year agreed under the agreement. Paris. At the last Glasgow conference, this program was launched along the way. Some communities in countries ranging from Peru to Pakistan and even India have started filing climate cases, demanding restrictions or damages.

Read also | Losses and damage: fighting human damage, huge climate costs

More fundamentally, activists are seeking a clear shift from fossil fuels to peak emissions by 2025. A special report titled “10 New Insights on Climate Science” published at COP27 by Prof. Rockstrom points to continued high emissions of fossil fuels. because “success is still primarily measured in terms of GDP and wealth, rather than through improvements in the efficient use of resources and advancing human well-being within the confines of the biosphere.” World leaders and the financial system investing in society Pollutants around the world are, therefore, under pressure to divest from fossil fuels and support greener renewable options at COP27.


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