The “Mama Earth” approach to a fair and ambitious climate deal was long overdue, writes David Waskow.
David Waskow is Director of Asia and Pacific Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development
While the opening addresses at the Global Climate Action Summit offered a vision of an ambitious agreement by the end of the year, some G20 leaders failed to build on the momentum. The Rann of Kutch cruise missile test was a reminder that the nuclear buildup and disastrous confrontations between belligerent nuclear powers has not stopped climate change from being on the agenda.
Globally, countries have made great progress towards their pledged goals.
Cooperation around cutting down on deforestation emissions has made big strides. Together, we now have faster reductions than previously expected and we are on track to meet our stated goal of reducing deforestation emissions by one fifth by 2020.
As we work towards a Climate Change Agreement in Paris at the end of the year, world leaders need to keep the momentum going. Developing countries have serious concerns about the pledges of developed countries, and negotiations on their adaptation fund still need to be finalised.
The OECD official committee’s discussion of the UNFCCC-negotiated Green Climate Fund (GCF) draft policy proposal is an opportunity to move the foundation for this fund forward. Developed countries must also remember to continue their contributions to the UNFCCC. The support of some critical emerging economies for such assistance is now at a critical level.
Not only that, but major risks and uncertainty in Europe around the long-term sustainability of agricultural practices could cause long-term shortages of renewable energy and severely diminish the competitiveness of crop farmers.
The Earth would not stand for this. Nature has proven that its whole systems of ecosystems and species are very resilient and what the Earth needs is stability in order to keep growing.
Over the past few years the work on the fight against climate change has inspired an appreciation for how global governance can work, and how it can do so more effectively. All agreed on the need for strong leadership by each country, as well as the importance of integrating innovative approaches.
Expanding opportunities for countries to prepare for change also offered a unique way to bridge the gaps that exist between the developed and developing world.
At COP23 in Bonn, Germany, coordinated scientific surveys of developing country forests underline the importance of forests. Forest management offers incredible opportunities to hold stocks in healthy conditions before climate change threatens these services with negative consequences.
Globally, countries have made great progress toward their pledged goals. While the global economy continues to recover, the Industrial Revolution has been responsible for 11 percent of global warming, yet our efforts to cut carbon emissions since 2000 are at about 2 percent.
By comparison, the Earth has managed to retain 57 percent of its natural carbon stores at Earth’s common biosphere level through natural systems like forests and oceans, compared to only 6 percent in the industrial revolution.
That is why, until now, developing countries were called on to increase their share of global emissions cuts from 1 percent to 5 percent.
The countries of the Pacific have now said that they are prepared to step up their ambition to 25 percent on emissions reduction, putting the world back on track to having an agreed deal by the end of 2020.
Some large emerging economies have offered strong commitments on financing. With these pledges, the developed countries will need to match and potentially exceed these pledges.
The developing countries from Peru need only raise their ambition on actions to cut emissions by 40 percent or more and continue to take further actions. The developed countries need to continue to provide an adequate amount of finance and support for vulnerable countries to meet their targets.
It is important to remember that the transitions in China and India are two of the fastest in the world, and the emissions reductions make good sense as the moves are taking place just after growth has slowed.
Donors need to be aware that the commitments that countries are making are still not enough to avoid dangerous climate change. The 2030 agenda on climate change must include targets to meet the pledge of keeping the increase in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees centigrade.
The whole world will be better off for it.