Wednesday, February 21, 2024

COP28: India too has no ‘option’ than to invest in nature

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New Delhi, Nov 28: India is also facing the serious consequences of climate change and it has no option than to invest in nature. At COP28, leaders from across the globe must acknowledge the critical role of nature in tackling the climate crisis. Also the world cannot reach the Paris Agreement without halting and reversing nature loss, alongside rapid emissions cuts.

These were the views of frontline groups to take a stand at the two-week COP28, the 28th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, under the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presidency slated from November 30 in Dubai.

In the run up to COP28, the frontline delegation calls upon world leaders to pass and adhere to binding agreements, including the immediate phase out of dirty energy, and to commit to meaningful climate reparations for communities that are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.

Also, indigenous leaders representing forest communities from 24 countries will travel to Dubai.

At the event, they will demand greater protections for tropical forest communities, who manage 80 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and nearly 40 per cent of remaining intact forests, in global agreements and national proposals for implementing and funding nature-based solutions.

Talking to IANS regarding India’s science-driven benchmarks to enhance climate plans and collective action pathways in nature, wildlife conservationist and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) Director Kishor Rithe said: “India is also facing the serious consequences of climate change and it has no option than to invest in nature.

“The real challenge is to achieve this by following the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This is only possible with strong collaborations with research organisations and local and global financial institutions. Such collaborations can implement the regional climate action plans and produce measurable outcomes.

“India is certainly moving towards this and regular monitoring may help in reporting the outcomes.”

Believing that nature and biodiversity play in aiding the mitigation and adaptation to the global crises, Lucy Almond, Chair of Nature4Climate and Nature Positive Pavilion lead, told IANS: “At COP28, the world stands at a course-correcting moment.

“Leaders must acknowledge the critical role of nature in tackling the climate crisis. Nature can provide one-third of the solution needed by 2030, but it also proves essential for adaptation.

“Past commitments to protect nature and halt deforestation by 2030 are commendable, yet continuing deforestation and inadequate policy budgets underscore the urgency for tangible action.

“Governments and business leaders must pick up the pace and turn their words into action.”

Sounding a note of warning that tropical forest deforestation accounts for eight per cent of all CO2 emissions, more than the entire the EU, Welsh scientist studying ecology and global biodiversity Prof. Thomas Crowther at ETH Zurich said: “We cannot reach the Paris Agreement without halting and reversing nature loss, alongside rapid emissions cuts.

“The latest science from hundreds of experts in the Integrated Global Forest Assessment is clear: there can be no choice between nature and decarbonizing our economy because we urgently need both.

“We need nature for climate action, and we need climate action for nature.”

The 21st session of the COP (COP21) led to the Paris Agreement, which mobilised global collective action to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, and to act to adapt to the already existing effects of climate change.

Why is this COP (Conference of Parties) crucial?

The Global Stocktake, which will be finalized at COP28, has made it clear that more action is needed across all sectors to meet the Paris Agreement goals and has acknowledged that engaging indigenous people and local communities in implementing climate actions is crucial.

The stocktake builds on evidence suggesting that scaling up the land rights and heeding the values and knowledge of indigenous and local communities represents one of the world’s most cost-effective solutions for protecting forests and preventing the damage that fuels climate change and biodiversity loss.

The outcome will set international norms for climate action over the next five years, and it must include an explicit call to accelerate and invest in nature.

Leaders from tropical forest countries will demand urgent action to ensure countries are allowing indigenous peoples and local communities to influence local plans for implementing climate solutions that, in some regions, are already violating community rights and causing harm to biodiverse ecosystems that store and absorb carbon.

“The climate crisis demands a rapid just transition for a binding global phase out of fossil fuels and all extraction and production at source,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

“With the risks and uncertainties of carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal technologies, the world does not need more climate false solutions that divert attention away from the crucial work of stopping the ongoing colonial and capitalist frameworks that are consistently adopted by the UNFCCC.”

Compensating local communities through market mechanisms is a step in the right direction, believes Javier Valdivia Navarro, Local Projects Coordinator at Terra Global Capital, LLC.

“However, it’s essential to ensure that this compensation is fair, transparent, and equitable. Additionally, involving these communities in the design and implementation of the project, respecting their rights, and fostering local ownership are crucial aspects to make such initiatives truly effective and sustainable,” he told IANS.

In a message ahead of the COP28 that is bringing the world together, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said: “It is profoundly shocking to stand on the ice of Antarctica and hear directly from scientists how fast the ice is melting. The cause is clear: fossil fuel pollution.

Leaders at COP28 must not let the hopes of people around the world for a sustainable planet melt away, he warned.

Quoting new figures of September, he said Antarctic sea ice was 1.5 million square kilometres smaller than the average for the time of year — an area roughly equal to the combined size of Portugal, Spain, France and Germany.

“And this year, Antarctic sea ice hit an all-time low,” he added.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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