COP28 must redefine the narrative of global climate action

While there is a sharp focus on emissions from energy and industrial sources, there is plenty of opportunity to reduce other sources of emissions.
While there is a sharp focus on emissions from energy and industrial sources, there is plenty of opportunity to reduce other sources of emissions.

Summary

  • It's time to mobilize collective action, secure financial commitments, and steer the world toward a resilient and environmentally sustainable future.

The escalating climate crisis demands immediate action from all nations and COP28 presents a vital opportunity for countries to re-examine their commitments and strategies. While previous COP meetings have made progress, the global transition needs to accelerate to match the scale of the challenge. 

Although the involvement of the corporate sector and private financial institutions has been a positive development, there is an urgent need for nations and corporations to adopt new, bold, and aggressive agendas with more ambitious emissions reduction targets and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

We should not underestimate the size and complexity of the challenge before us. Aligning the priorities of nations and stakeholders, given competing pulls and priorities on the ground, is a massive undertaking. 

Any meaningful shift towards a sustainable future demands coordinated movement of all the stakeholders. What must first be agreed is that the global energy transition, a critical component of a sustainable future, must be expedited, demanding deeper reduction in emissions within even shorter timelines. In this light, we would look for the participants at the COP28 to make progress towards the following:

Much of the current energy transition activity is focused on transitioning the global electricity systems, with measurable success. There is also a pressing need to intensify focus, efforts and investments in the hard-to-abate sectors such as industrial heat/emissions and mobility. The emphasis should be on adopting 'green for all' energy sources to cater to every aspect of our energy matrix

While there is a sharp focus on emissions from energy and industrial sources, there is plenty of opportunity to reduce other sources of emissions. Increased emphasis and investments in sustainable food and agriculture sectors for overall environmental health.

Investing in cutting-edge technologies such as innovative forms of energy storage, carbon capture, and new nature-based solutions will also be pivotal in reducing emissions, or capturing emissions

To support and enable this transition, there is an urgent call to mobilize climate finance—a move that will bolster the speed and scale of the global response to emission reductions

The recent extreme climate events are a harsh reminder of the urgent need to invest in resilience, especially for communities living in areas prone to climate hazards. It's not only about prevention but also about preparing for the inevitable, so that the most vulnerable can withstand the impacts of climate change.

The economic implications of the transition are profound. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) suggests that the financial inflow for adaptation in developing countries is dwarfed by the actual costs. The transition to a low-carbon economy demands substantial investments, with annual requirements estimated at $4-6 trillion through 2050. For developing countries, the investment need is calculated at around $6 trillion from 2022 to 2030 for effective climate action plan implementation. To meet these formidable targets, at least 5% of the global GDP must be dedicated to climate action annually.

The much-touted $100 billion annual aid by developed countries to support climate action in developing nations, although a step in the right direction, is small compared to the needs of the climate crisis. As 2030 approaches, it is estimated that an external climate finance of $1 trillion per year will be required, dwarfing the current mobilization of $50-80 billion annually. 

In 2020, a mere $83.3 billion was directed towards developing economies, often in loan forms, spotlighting the need for a significant overhaul in how climate finance is distributed. The developed world, responsible for the lion's share of historical emissions, must now lead not just in curbing their carbon footprint but also in fulfilling financial aid commitments to support climate action in developing nations.

As we await the start of COP28, we look for the participants to redefine the narrative of global climate action, and bridge the divide between developing and developed nations, fostering a spirit of collaborative progress. The summit presents a chance for all nations and stakeholders to reinforce their commitment to a sustainable future and drive global change. It's time to mobilize collective action, secure financial commitments, and steer the world toward a resilient and environmentally sustainable future. The agenda is set; the stage is ready.

(Srivatsan Iyer is global CEO, Hero Future Energies.)

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