OPN Climate Change
Scientists have noted long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns around the world Image Credit: Gulf News

We all agree that actions speak louder than words, and post COP27, we are left wondering whether the outcomes are as tangible and robust as everyone wants us to believe. Throughout the negotiation process during the climate conference, the push and pull between rich and poor nations on the finance front was evident for all to see.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in their 2022 report that severe effects are expected to happen when global temperatures rise by 1.5°C. Heatwaves will impact at least 14% of the population when severe heat occurs globally once every 5 years minimum.

If the Earth warms just .1°C from the current target of 1.5°C, wildfires will burn almost 35% more land globally than the damage made today. Rising seas will submerge tens of millions of people living in coastal areas, and small islands will vanish. It is noted that 1 billion people will face coastal flooding from rising seas.

More op-eds by Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi

Impacting food security

Unfortunately, more people will have to leave their homes due to sea level rise and flooding. Droughts and floods will impact food security, and Arctic ice thaws are expected, with 40% of the Arctic’s permafrost severely affected by the end of the century. No nation, region, or country, no matter how big or strong, will be exempt from the effects of climate change.

Loss and damage finance has always been one of the most continuous issues on the negotiation table at COPs. For over three decades, developing countries that are at the forefront of experiencing the devastating climate disasters have been demanding that developed nations, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, compensate them for the harm they are facing due to climate change.

The fund is a crucial starting point to rectify a long, systematic injustice to vulnerable communities. But how optimistic should we be that this fund will achieve its goal? Some observers believe the fund is another empty promise made by developed nations to ease the pressure they are facing.

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A fruit seller navigates a flooded road after a heavy rainfall in Karachi, Pakistan. Freak weather and changing climate are increasingly triggering flash floods in many countries including Pakistan. Image Credit: AP

Given that the much-awaited $100 billion a year that wealthy nations promised in 2015 to provide for developing nations has not yet materialised, it would be unrealistic to expect them to pour their money into this new venture.

The Emissions Gap Report 2022 highlighted that countries that have made climate commitments were moving slowly with their implementation, putting the world on a trajectory for a disastrous 2.8°C rise in temperature by the end of the century.

Staring at a bleak future 

Even if the current pledges were met, we would still face a temperature rise of 2.4 to 2.6°C by the end of 2100. That should be enough motivation for those who make concrete progress in the climate agenda so the world can avoid the catastrophe that is so clearly looming ahead.

The future is looking pretty bleak, and at least 3.3 billion people’s daily lives will be affected or, as the reports indicate, highly vulnerable to climate change. People are 15 times more likely to die from extreme weather than in years past, and it is estimated that between 2030 to 2050, climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths annually.

Demonstrating solidarity with those hit hardest by climate change should be at the heart of our collective response. The world is watching and waiting for actions, not promises. By 2030, climate impact will cost developing countries an estimated $290 billion and $580 billion annually. The cost will actually be more than doubled by 2050.

As a part of our recommendations for mitigation and adaptation, we suggest exploring the following options:

A) Greenhouse gases have the potential to warm the atmosphere. However, each gas has a different warming potential and duration of activity in the atmosphere.

The concept of global warming potential (GWP) is used to indicate the amount of warming caused by a gas within a specific period (usually 100 years). By replacing or removing these gases from our daily usage, we can significantly decrease global warming.

B) The construction industry contributes approximately 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. Construction processes should be considered a significant source of potent gases.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures should be made mandatory in this industry. Rational utilisation of materials and services like water, heating, air conditioning, and fuel consumption within the industry can help in reducing global warming.

C) As part of the finance scheme agreed upon in COP27 in Egypt, research institutions worldwide should receive funding to assist in combating global warming.

— Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi is a former UAE minister of Infrastructure Development and for Climate Change and Environment.