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New global action underway as Nigeria, others begin climate talks

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
01 November 2021   |   3:00 am
Amidst a rising concern surrounding the impact that man-made climate change is having on the planet, Nigeria and 196 other parties, yesterday, kicked off this year’s United Nations

Amidst a rising concern surrounding the impact that man-made climate change is having on the planet, Nigeria and 196 other parties, yesterday, kicked off this year’s United Nations climate conference or Conference of the Parties (COP26) in the Scottish city of Glasgow.

This year, the eyes of the world will be on the politicians, Heads of State and the tens of thousands of businesses, activists as well as citizens to reach an agreement on how to tackle a global crisis by raising their stakes higher to douse the existential threat.

In 1992, the UN organised a major event in Rio de Janeiro called the Earth Summit, in which the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted. In this treaty, nations agreed to “stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system. Today, the treaty has 197 signatories.

In COP26, delegates will be aiming to finalise the ‘Paris Rulebook’, adopted in 2015, in which all countries agreed to step up efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures and boost climate action financing. This time, they will need to agree on common timeframes for the frequency of revision and monitoring of their climate commitments.

The most recent UN Emission Gap report explains that a total of 49 countries plus the European Union have pledged a net zero target. This covers over half of global domestic greenhouse gas emissions, over half of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and a third of the global population. Eleven targets are enshrined in law, covering 12 per cent of global emissions.

Many of the current commitments delay action until after 2030, raising doubts over whether these net-zero pledges can actually be achieved. “These pledges are “vague” and inconsistent with the officially submitted national commitments, known as National Determined Contributions (NDCs),” according to the United Nations.

Specifically, the official negotiations will take place over two weeks. The first week includes technical negotiations by government officials, followed by high-level Ministerial and Heads of State meetings in the second week when the final decisions will be made – or not.

The Guardian learnt four main points that will be discussed during the conference, according to its host, the United Kingdom are One: Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. Countries are to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curb deforestation, speed up the switch to greener economies. Carbon market mechanisms will be also part of the negotiations.

Two: Adapt more to protect communities and natural habitats. Countries already affected by climate change need to protect and restore ecosystems, as well as build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure.

Three: Mobilise finance. At COP15, rich nations promised to channel $100 billion a year to less-wealthy nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. That promise was not kept, and COP26 will be crucial to secure the funds, with the help of international financial institutions, as well as set new climate finance targets to be achieved by 2025.

Four: Work together to deliver. This means establishing collaborations between governments, businesses and civil society, and of course, finalising the Paris Rulebook to make the agreement fully operational.

Nigerian delegates are aligning and adopting African group’s priorities, which include adaptation, climate finance, a market mechanism (Article 6), ambitious NDCs, a transparency mechanism, meeting pre-2020 mitigation commitments and recognising the continent’s unique needs and circumstances.

But the Director, Centre for Climate Change and Development, Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Prof. Chukwumerije Okereke, said the African government must set their sight on getting rich countries that are responsible for climate change to increase their pledges in COP26.

“Furthermore, African leaders must press to see a vast increase in adaptation finance, which currently constitutes less than 25 per cent of total climate finance. They should urge other countries to emulate Denmark, which has pledged to devote an equal amount of its climate pledge to climate adaptation and mitigation.

“Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development is critical to meeting the commitment of the Paris agreement and the developmental needs of Africa,” he said.

The Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, in his submission, said: “There is need for African governments and delegates to demand that greenhouse gas emission is a financial debt and payment of the carbon debt from the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by rich countries.

“African delegates should demand transitional justice in the payment of carbon debts currently put at 334 billion metric. This debt is part of the transitional justice demands for fairness, compensation and reparation for the monumental harm done to the environment some of which are irreversible,” Ojo said.