Environment matters have dominated global discourses since the last quarter of the 20th century. Global warming continues to be a matter of serious thought as the global climatic Conference of the Parties (COP 27), in Sharm el-Sheikh,Egypt which started Sunday, 6 November ended on Friday, 18 November, 2022. The global discourse has been for investments in clean technologies and in low-carbon infrastructure, especially in emerging and the less developed countries. For the COP27 host country, Egypt, a range of topics focused on enhancing implementation and raising ambition on broad range of issues related to climate change were identified. Egypt designated several thematic days for focused discussions. This event also marked the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the 1992 Rio Convention, known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Rio Convention set out the legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and avoid the dangerous human influence on the environment.
Paris Agreement and Implementation
From Kyoto in 1997, Talks progressed with mull over of emission reduction targets. In 2015, 196 Parties comprising industrial, emerging and less developed countries subscribed to a legally binding international treaty on climate changeat the 21st Conference of the Parties alsoknown as the COP 21 Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016. Article 2 ofthe Paris Agreement, seeks to strengthen the global response to climate change, reaffirm the goal of collective government targets and pledges to bring global average temperature to well below 2 °C, preferably to 1.5 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels.
The Paris Agreement was to determine, plan, and regularly report on the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to mitigate climate change. It is also to increase the ability toadapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and lowgreenhouse gas emission development in a manner that does not threaten food production.It is also to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissionand climate-resilient development. Parties are expected to submit aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation, which are reviewed every five years. The targets and pledges, if delivered in full and on time, could hold global warming but the reality is that the Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) are not enough to limit the increase of the average global temperature to 2 °C in 2050.
The crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are thought-provoking global issues that the contemplation is to take CO₂ out of the air.Top three heavy global emitters of carbon dioxide are China (27.6 percent), United States (14.5 percent), and India (6.7 percent). South Africa, Egypt and Algeria are the only African countries in the top 40 global carbon dioxide emitters. To achieve long-term goal of global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions for net zero, countries should pursue it in an effective, affordable and equitable manner to reverse climate change. The perception of the Agreement is that it is a turning point in the multilateral climate change process because for the first time a binding agreement has brought all nations into a common cause to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
Articles 9, 10, 11 of the Paris Agreement provides a framework for financial, technical and capacity building support respectively to those countries who need it. To what extent have developed countries provided the needed assistance to the less developed and more vulnerable countries for mitigation and adaptation to the adverse effects and reduce the impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement vision is for fully realizing technology development and transfer for both improving resilience to climate change and reducing GHG emissions for well-functioning Technology Mechanism through its policy and implementation arms. But observers believe that the Agreement implementation based on a five-year cycle for economic and social transformation is becoming difficult.
Evaluating the journey in the last 30 years, the scorecard calls for improvement. Almost all Parties (92 per cent) provided information on finance as a means of NDC
implementation, with most (69 per cent) characterizing finance in terms of international
support needed and some (22 per cent) mentioning finance in relation to domestic
implementation only. A few (6 per cent) mentioned finance in the context of providing
financial support for other countries’ NDC implementation. Many developing countries do not have sufficient capacities to deal with the challenges of climate change. The Paris Agreement places great emphasis on climate-related capacity-building and requests all developed countries to enhance support for capacity-building actions in developing countries. If COP 27 is to address the current implementation of the Paris Agreement, the stakeholders in the negotiations and the climate policies of key Parties must show a high level of commitment.
UNEP on CO₂ Emissions
The United Nations Environment Programme in its latest Emissions Gap Report, published a fortnight ago, cast doubts on the credibility of the climate change net-zero pathway. According to the Report: “Only an urgent system-wide transformation can avoid climate disaster.” The Report “finds that the international community is falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5 °C in place,” the UN said. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) found that progress on CO₂ emissions targets since the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow last year had been inadequate. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres bared his mind that the global community should embrace climate change or face catastrophe. It is on record that out of the 198 countries that signed the COP 26 Glasgow agreement only 23 submitted their updated 2030 climate plan, so did not meet the deadline for inclusion in the UNFCCC progress report for October. The issue is now that of a rapid and systematic transformation of global energy, food and financial system considering that every fraction of a degree matters.
Stakeholdersand Geopolitical Negotiations
The major stakeholders do not seem to be devoted in the transition drive to Net Zero by 2050. This global transition which has been in the process of change for about three decades, has been taken over by Stakeholders that have constituted themselves into interest groups for negotiations. For now, progress in the negotiations has been extremely slow especially the provision for support to developing countries. These lobby groups constitute a cog. There is the Group of 77 and China, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), Umbrella Group, Group of Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America(ALBA), Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), Group of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay (ABU), Arab Group, African Group of Negotiators (AGN) and the European Union.
The Umbrella Group is a coalition of developed countries led by the US. Most of its members have high per-capita greenhouse gas emissions. The group is cautious about ambitious mitigation actions and generally calls for developing countries to contribute to mitigation actions. The Arab Group of 22 are countries from the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA). As some of them are important oil and gas producers, the Arab Group pays particular attention to possible impacts of mitigation measures (such as a shift away from fossil fuels) on their economies.The African Group of Negotiators (AGN) comprising 54 African countries point out the challenges faced by their members in adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change. Hence, the AGN calls for giving the same level of importance in the negotiations to adaptation as to mitigation. The AGN points out the limited capacities available in African countries and calls for financial, technological and capacity-building support.What the African countries are pushing for is for the developed countries to support developing countries. Developed countries pledged to provide or mobilize USD 100 billion per year; a promise that is a far cry from commitments to action. The African Group and a few others stated their willingness to withhold agreement on the priorities of developed countries (especially transparency issues) until finance was adequately addressed.
Nigeria at COP 27
Nigeria is galvanizing Africa in an action plan to push for a positive climate funding action from the developed countries. The Nigeria Energy Transition Plan (NETP) is aligned to ensure requisite funding for a smooth transition to renewable. Without this, it will be very difficult to deploy infrastructure to support our mini-grid, deployment of solar and support bio-fuel. According to Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi, who leads the Nigerian delegation, “African countries and developing countries indeed understand that funding is important in whatever position COP 27 will take.”Part of the plan is to interface and engage with the private sector and investors ready to support Nigeria’s energy transition plan, with bilateral meetings and engagements arranged to discuss funding from development partners and the private sector. Side meeting has been arranged for sustainable energy for all donors who focus on climate finance, particularly carbon trading alongside Nigerian private enterprise and other development partners.
The issue of how much global Energy has contributed to the problem is what is being interrogated in a set of dynamic events through the collaboration of governments, civil society, cities, regions, businesses and investors, so as to implement the Paris Agreement and reach its goals. Addressing the Energy mix that is still dominated by fossil fuels is a nut that would be difficult to crack. The combustion of fossil fuels produces 83 percent of global CO₂ emissions. In a net-zero transition, they would be eliminated through a shift in the energy mix. By 2050, oil production would be 55 percent lower than it is today, and gas production would be 70 percent lower. The production of coal for energy would be all but eliminated. The global power system currently accounts for 30 percent of CO₂ emissions. Under a net-zero scenario, power generation from fossil-fuel plants would be replaced with renewable energy like solar, wind, or nuclear, and other forms of low-emissions power generation. This shift to green power, along with population growth and widening access to energy, would cause a substantial increase in electric power use; necessitating a build-out of power systems worldwide.
As Egypt hand over the baton to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), hosts of the 2023 COP 28, commentators believe that the future is all about catalysing an innovative ambition loop between political leadership and the dynamism of the private sector to drive towards a resilient, prosperous zero carbon future. But the vulnerable are not in the same direction as the carbon emitters that are championing mitigation. Really, if it is to avoid new fossil fuel-intensive infrastructure, advancing zero-carbon technologies, reforming food systems and changing diets and mobilizing finance should be intensified. The UN said investment of at least US$4 -US$6 trillion a year was needed. But for the Russian- Ukraine war that slowed down the vigorous campaign for the abandonment of fossil fuels, the industrial world appeared to have moved on with renewable energy carriers (solar, wind, hydrogen etc), and sustainably produced biofuels, irrespective of whether the less developed countries are in the same global climate train to achieve collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and support. Energy security, global markets, energy transition, climate change and sustainability should be embraced by all. It is not being the issue of might is right!