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COP27: With the Planet at Stake, Another Golden Opportunity for Climate Justice

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By John Paul Jose

· 4 min read

The global leadership is meeting for another climate conference, COP27 at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. While the world, especially the African and Asian continents are being ravaged by the catastrophic impacts of the climate emergency, understanding this reality and climate science is enough to guide concrete climate negotiations and actions. Yet, the leadership has signalled the ultimate direction of the climate conference by announcing a polluting industry as its official sponsor, contradicting all our aims for the conference to be a hope to the world.

Even while taking into account the past conferences, various actions and investments are happening predominantly between industries and governments gambling for power and profit amidst an existential threat and failing to mark a positive influence on the lives of people living under a climate emergency. Cumulative emissions continue to rise, no targets are sufficient, and the entire global agenda should change from its roots. Change from the ground up should be feeding the conferences like COP, not the agendas of the same system that drove the world into this mess.

Although the global climate pledges are inadequate, many regions are yet to recognise the climate crisis and make any commitments, whereas those who already made commitments are yet to walk the talk or update them based on the reality and latest science. To be precise, a 30-45% emission reduction is required to reach below 1.5°C at a cost ranging from $4 to $6 trillion. All of which should come with a collective responsibility for the biggest polluters to play larger roles.

Recurring climate science reports have been sounding the alarm around the world for decades including against the backdrop of global climate conferences. The latest science once again depicts the failing climate leadership and the danger humanity is falling into as global warming could reach nearly 3°C by the end of the century, becoming a threat multiplier. These facts continue to assert the increased frequency of droughts, heatwaves and floods which in turn leads to a global food crisis, exacerbation of poverty, deepening socio-economic insecurity, cultural loss, migration, refugee crisis and an extinction threat. Even a fraction of reliance on fossil fuel is a death warrant for human civilisation notwithstanding the catastrophic impact on nature and biodiversity.

At least the current decade should be that of action even though the actions are yet to focus on poor people in vulnerable regions. Many fail to understand the climate crisis as a life and death situation for the majority of the world population who are directly dependent on nature for their survival, livelihood and socio-economic security, like us farmers and local communities. The Climate crisis poses a great imbalance in our life even if we live in remote areas, regardless of our interest in a globalized world. Additionally, the impacts of the climate crisis are profound for youth, women, children, people of colour, global diversity and the global south in general. In fact, many are not part of the major discussions influencing our lives.

Financing climate actions that benefit people and the planet is crucial. Many vulnerable countries remain in debt piled up since colonialism. These countries are trying to improve their standard of living ever since colonialism left many of these vulnerable regions economically poor, environmentally degraded, culturally exploited and in conflicting situations. Furthermore, many of these countries have to pay for loss and damage due to the climate emergency for which they are the least responsible. The existing climate finance of $100 billion is nothing compared to the needs of the time, yet it's undelivered while trillions are required solely to protect people in vulnerable regions. Loss and damage, adaptation and mitigation, and resilience funds should flow into the global south.

As a space that brings power, resources, industries and ideas together, COPs should reassert the climate agenda and climate promises by subscribing to inclusivity, intersectionality and international solidarity to have promising outcomes. Rather than frequently platforming privileged sections and hearing the same stories which highlight major polluters, these events should be giving a platform to those who are victims of the climate crisis and those with knowledge and solutions who should have access to COP to bring diversity into the agenda.

We are no longer just dealing with a future threat, but something that is already happening and leading up to a catastrophic threat. Therefore collaboration at all levels between industries, governments, NGOs, frontline communities, nature and many more is crucial. Moreover, globally, climate education, partnerships, platforms and environmentalism should be more influential in the system. Nature and biodiversity should be at the centre of climate action.

Finally, alongside the COP, there is also the Conference of Youth (COY) which hosts many diverse global youths, yet is still a small fraction of those who couldn’t make it to COP. This is an important space that needs attention. The world should watch what the young people are bringing into the climate agenda.

Future Thought Leaders is a democratic space presenting the thoughts and opinions of rising Sustainability & Energy writers, their opinions do not necessarily represent those of illuminem.

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About the author

John Paul Jose is a social, environmental and climate justice advocate hailing from an agricultural family in Kerala, India. Living amidst nature, experiencing environmental changes and climate crises has driven him into taking action with experiences in dozens of organisations as a volunteer, ambassador, advisor, consultant, etc. He is also involved in research and policy development.

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