After a successful first-ever top-level QUAD summit, where Australia, India, Japan, and the USA leaders discussed climate change along with other issues.
Joe Biden has called for a virtual summit of 40 major global economies of the world, including China and Russia. The meeting’s primary objective is going to be strengthening the implementation of the Paris agreement and adhering to the commitments made.
The 2-day virtual climate summit is to start on Earth day i.e. April 22. Most of the major economies of the world are invited but the list also includes some of the smaller nations like Bhutan, Gabon, and the Marshall Islands.
The Paris agreement which was signed at COP21 is a legally binding treaty on climate change. Held in December 2015, for the first time, 196 countries agreed to limit global warming below 2 degrees celsius (preferably 1.5 degrees), compared to the pre-industrial levels.
This climate summit of 40 countries is like a prelude to the Conference of Parties (COP26) which will be held in November in Glasgow, UK.
As per the data from the climate action tracker, all the countries are falling way behind in their efforts to control warming below 2°C. Climate Action Tracker is an organization that measures government climate action against Paris Agreement standards.
USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia are listed as “Critically insufficient”, while China, South Africa & Indonesia are marked as “Highly insufficient”.
The new USA government has planned major reforms to reduce carbon emissions and is gathered to be preparing a new 2030 Paris Agreement target — or Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). The plan includes steps to reduce its national emissions by at least 57–63% below 2005 levels by 2030. In addition, the administration will also provide support to other nations for meeting the Paris agreement targets.
In September 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping in his address to the United Nations made a commitment to a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2060. Given that China is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide and one of the largest consumers of coal, this announcement is significant.
Options in the Climate Summit
The enormity of the challenge is huge, to achieve carbon neutrality and reducing emissions, countries would need a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels in industry, transportation, and electricity generation. Here are some options which might be considered in the climate summit of the 40 countries.
In the Paris agreement, countries established an enhanced transparency framework (ETF) to provide transparent reporting of the actions taken. ETF includes the data points of the measures taken by countries towards climate change mitigation and the progress made from those activities.
Review mechanisms are also in place and the approved information goes into global stocktake that assesses the overall progress. It is time to strengthen this framework and effectively monitor the climate actions by various government agencies.
Another option is to enable Green Climate Fund, which is the world’s largest climate fund to finance green recovery in developing countries. The fund was halted by the previous US administration is now restarted. In addition to more financial reserves, Green Climate Fund would also need other resources to efficiently identify & support more projects.
As per the data provided by the Fund (as of 31st March 2021), there are 173 approved projects in more than 120 countries for a combined value of US$ 8.4 billion.
Including the private sector to finance & enable the transition of the countries towards lowering carbon emissions would also be a welcome step.
The group should also deliberate on creating an atmosphere of green recovery post-pandemic. Moving to renewable energy sources, adopting nature-based solutions, addressing deforestation, has the potential to not only create jobs and also bring economic opportunities.
Record high temperatures, rising sea temperature, melting of the glacier ice and other climate-related disasters pose a huge threat to humanity. Disaster management strategies and strengthening capacity to protect lives and livelihoods in case of climate change emergency are also critical.
The meeting is a reminder for all the nation to step up the efforts in addressing the climate change repercussions. Scientists have warned that the world is lagging in its efforts to limit planetary warming, which will leave many regions of the world inhospitable.