The seriousness of climate change and its impact is increasing, with economic, environmental, health and humanitarian repercussions that must be tackled to soften their deleterious effects on lives.
These points will be addressed by the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP28), taking place in Dubai. The UAE has the platform to lead in the approaches that need to be taken to address the repercussions of climate change. Although it is not a matter that will be easy to deal with, these issues are even more complex due to the multiplicity of positions from the participating parties, which include all countries. Such is the case that positions on how to tackle climate change even vary within a country.
For instance, the positions of the Democratic Party in the US are completely different from that of the Republicans, which withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, only for the Democrats to make a return again. Also, there is a great disparity on sustainability issues between Washington and Beijing, the world’s largest economies.
Despite this, the convening of the UN Climate conference in the UAE can be a strong impetus to resolve outstanding issues. This is due to the UAE’s good relations with participating nations and its efforts during the recent past to bring competing views closer and prepare a viable agenda that takes these into account.
Nature feels the brunt of it
On the economic side, the effects of climate change are contradictory, with some countries experiencing floods and others suffering from drought and desertification. Both cases lead to the destruction of agriculture and farmland, which particularly affect small farmers and agri-land owners, with many of them are even exposed to famine and malnutrition.
Here lies a great paradox, as rich countries do not suffer from the same repercussions thanks to their financial might and advanced infrastructure, thereby putting them in a better position. This only deepens the disparity between developed and developing economies, where the former group can call for reducing the use of hydrocarbon energy sources to minimize harmful emissions.
Rich nations also have the potential to develop clean energy sources. Meanwhile, the unfortunate ones are unable to cope with this approach without the help of wealthy nations. Here lies another dichotomy - wealthy countries are reluctant to help out, although the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has provided $89.6 billion in climate financing to developing countries. This amount seems modest compared to the scale of climate challenges.
Developed countries are seeking to stop the use of coal in production of electricity, as was presented before the current UN conference, at a time when there is no alternative for less well-off economies.
Some countries, such as China and India, still rely on coal to a large extent for electricity production, which means that proposals cannot be put forward without a practical - and available – alternative. This is what COP28 seeks to do.
A US-China understanding
Reaching an agreement on climate change finance between the US and China is a top priority, given that they are the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases and produce 40 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions. Of particular importance is financing the Special Climate Change Fund to compensate poor nations for losses caused by switching to less carbon intensive ways.
Financial institutions must be encouraged to provide facilities to finance clean energy sources and other activities under their ‘green finance’ mandate. The UAE has led a campaign estimated at $51 billion for green financing, and the Middle Eastern countries, led by the GCC, aim to invest $2 trillion in the green economy with the aim of reducing harmful emissions by 60 per cent.
Despite the overlap of climate issues and their intertwining between influential international parties, this issue concerns humans as a whole. This is simply because damage affects everyone without exception.
With the UAE as host, COP28 is expected to reach broadly acceptable outcomes. It is no coincidence that the opening follows closely with the commissioning of the Al Dhafra PV2 solar power plant, the largest of its kind in the world…