Anew UN report has ominously stated that global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to fall by only 2 per cent below the 2019 levels by 2030, nowhere near the 43 per cent reduction needed to avoid the worst impact of climate change. According to UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, governments are taking ‘baby steps’ to avert the climate crisis. The report comes days ahead of the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, where the onus will be on member countries, particularly the Western nations, to make a stronger time-bound commitment on climate action.
During COP27 last year, affluent nations had agreed to establish a fund to provide payouts to developing countries for the ‘loss and damage’ caused by climate-induced extreme weather events. However, there is still no clarity or consensus on some key questions: Who will administer the fund? Who all will pay and how much? Who will have access to the fund and who won’t? The fate of the climate finance pledge made by developed nations in 2009 to mobilise $100 billion per year for developing countries does not inspire confidence. The contributions have repeatedly fallen short of the annual target, even as the $100-billion goal is widely regarded as only a fraction of what is needed to help the developing world achieve climate goals in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
Western nations, which have been pressing the rest of the world to do away with fossil fuels, are themselves reluctant to take the lead in reducing climate-damaging emissions. The historical polluters have the primary responsibility of handholding nations that are highly vulnerable to disasters such as heatwaves, wildfires, floods, tropical storms and hurricanes, which are increasing in scale, frequency and intensity. COP28 presents an opportunity to India and other nations to hold the West accountable and liable for the environmental crisis.