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Bloc profile: BRICS at COP28

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By Himanshi Singh

· 6 min read

The BRICS bloc, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, holds a pivotal role in the ongoing global efforts to combat climate change, particularly as discussions unfold at COP28. With a combined population exceeding 3 billion people and considerable economic influence, these nations collectively shape the discourse on sustainable development and climate resilience. In the lead-up to COP28, the primary objectives of the BRICS bloc revolve around mitigation, adaptation, climate finance, and technology transfer. 

Primary objectives at COP28 

Mitigation and adaptation strategies are central to the BRICS agenda, reflecting a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while bolstering resilience to the impacts of climate change. Each member nation acknowledges the urgency of collective action. For example, China, as the largest emitter among the BRICS nations, has pledged to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, emphasizing a significant commitment to mitigation efforts (Reuters, 2020). Similarly, India has set ambitious targets, aiming to generate 50% of its energy from renewables by 2030 (Government of India, 2021). These commitments underscore the bloc's dedication to a sustainable energy transition.

Climate finance remains a pivotal element of the BRICS strategy at COP28. The bloc advocates for increased funding to assist vulnerable countries in meeting their climate goals and adapting to the impacts of a warming planet. Brazil, for instance, emphasizes the importance of financial mechanisms that address the differentiated needs of developing nations, reflecting a commitment to social and environmental justice (Brazil Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2021). 

Facilitating technology transfer is another key objective for the BRICS bloc. China, in particular, has emerged as a global leader in renewable energy investments and technological advancements. China's massive investments in solar and wind energy, as well as its focus on electric vehicles, showcase the nation's commitment to green development (National Energy Administration of China, 2020). The exchange of sustainable technologies among BRICS nations not only fosters green development but also strengthens their collective capacity to address climate challenges. 

Alignment with COP28's goals 

In alignment with COP28's goals, the BRICS nations have actively participated in pre-COP negotiations, contributing to the shaping of a comprehensive and inclusive framework for climate action. This collective stance recognizes the diverse developmental stages of member countries and emphasizes the importance of balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability. Russia, for instance, is investing in reforestation efforts to offset emissions (World Bank, 2020), while South 

Africa is actively transitioning to a low-carbon economy (Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, South Africa, 2021). This nuanced approach positions BRICS as a bridge between developed and developing nations, fostering a cooperative spirit in the pursuit of global climate goals. 

Historical contributions to emissions and climate action commitments 

Historically, the BRICS bloc has been responsible for a significant share of global emissions. However, each member has made substantial commitments to climate action. Russia, for instance, is investing in reforestation efforts to offset emissions (World Bank, 2020), while South Africa is actively transitioning to a low-carbon economy (Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, South Africa, 2021). The evolution of these commitments reflects a maturation in the bloc's understanding of the need for responsible and sustainable development. 

Prominent actions and goals within the BRICS bloc include ambitious renewable energy targets, indicative of a shared commitment to a low-carbon future. China's emphasis on becoming carbon neutral by 2060 and investing heavily in solar and wind energy sets a precedent for the bloc (Reuters, 2020). India's commitment to renewable energy expansion and Brazil's efforts to combat deforestation further underscore the collective determination of BRICS nations to address climate change. 

Challenges & opportunities 

Despite commendable efforts, the BRICS bloc faces challenges on multiple fronts. Balancing economic growth with emission reduction remains a complex task, requiring innovative policy solutions that consider the unique circumstances of each member nation. Socio-economic disparities within the bloc also pose a challenge, necessitating targeted interventions to ensure an inclusive and equitable transition to a sustainable future. Geopolitical complexities further complicate collective action, requiring diplomatic finesse to navigate divergent interests within the bloc. 

Opportunities abound for the BRICS bloc to showcase leadership in climate action. Leveraging technological advancements for sustainable development presents a pathway to address both environmental and developmental objectives. Strengthening intra-bloc collaboration can yield joint initiatives that amplify the impact of individual efforts, fostering a sense of shared responsibility. The bloc's ability to showcase successful climate action models not only contributes to global efforts but also positions BRICS as a source of inspiration for other regions grappling with similar challenges. 

Collaboration and engagement with other blocs 

In terms of collaboration and engagement with other blocs, BRICS recognizes the importance of forming alliances to create a unified front for climate action. Engaging with the G20, the African Union, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), among others, demonstrates the bloc's commitment to fostering global cooperation (BRICS Joint Statements, 2021). By actively participating in collaborative efforts, BRICS seeks to contribute its unique perspectives and experiences to the broader conversation on climate change.

Role beyond COP28 

Looking beyond COP28, the BRICS bloc envisions a sustained commitment to climate action. Implementation of policies and initiatives that align with global climate goals will be a key focus, demonstrating the bloc's dedication to translating rhetoric into tangible outcomes. BRICS aims to serve as a model for sustainable development, showcasing the possibilities of green growth and resilience on a global scale. 

In conclusion, the BRICS bloc's role at COP28 is multifaceted, encompassing mitigation, adaptation, climate finance, and technology transfer. With a historical footprint in global emissions, the bloc's commitment to climate action reflects a maturation in understanding the imperative of sustainable development. Challenges notwithstanding, the opportunities for the BRICS nations to lead in climate action are significant, and their collaboration and engagement with other blocs position them as pivotal contributors to the collective effort to address climate change on a global scale. 

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Reuters. (2020). China Aims for Peak Carbon Emissions by 2030, Carbon Neutrality by 2060. 2030-carbon-neutrality-by-2060-idUSKBN26K0BG 

Government of India. (2021). India's NDC under the Paris Agreement. 

Brazil Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2021). Financial Mechanisms for Climate Change: Positions of Brazil. 

National Energy Administration of China. (2020). China's Renewable Energy Statistics Yearbook 2020. 

World Bank. (2020). Russia: Climate Change Mitigation - Sustainable Forest Management. 

Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, South Africa. (2021). South Africa's National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. trategy.pdf

BRICS Joint Statements. (2021).

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About the author

Himanshi Singh is Senior Manager - Development at Ashoka University and founder of Bare Craft Consulting, a platform that bridges the gap between rural artisan communities and global SMEs, integrating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Himanshi was selected as a Young UN SDG Innovator and twice as a fellow for the Earthwatch Institute. She also developed a business plan which was chosen to represent India at the Uniting Business Live event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, 2021.

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