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Sunday, July 14, 2024

‘COP27 must take real action vs. climate change’

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COP27 must take real action to stave off the worst effects of climate change, said Venkatachalan Anbumozhi, director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) Research Strategy and Innovation.

He said this means going beyond COP21’s Paris Agreement 2015 on national commitments to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and COP26’s Glasgow agreement in 2021to achieve a net zero economy by the middle of the century.

The core issues behind the ongoing climate negotiations are making bold commitments and agreeing on higher targets to reduce GHG emissions, he also noted.

Anbumozhi said these can be achieved by developing countries in times of economic uncertainty and extending massive financing that advanced economies have already committed in support of global climate actions.

The ERIA official said COP27 will be a success if substantial progress is made on both these issues.   

But current climate negotiations and agreed action plans are woefully inadequate for reaching a carbon-neutral planet by 2050, which would keep global warming below 2°C as envisaged in the Paris agreement.

“Problematic actions are the heavy burning of fossil fuels by the top five carbon emitters: China, the United States, India, the Russian Federation, and Japan, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union, taken together as economic blocs,” Anbumozhi said.

He said one way would be for COP27 to name the countries or regional blocs that are most out of line with the Paris climate agreement and ask them to do more either individually or in cooperation with others.

He stressed that rich countries have already shown that they can mobilize vast resources to tackle global emergencies.  They did this amid of the 2008 global financial crisis, with an estimated $5 trillion  spent by the Group of Twenty (G20) countries on stimulus packages, and spectacularly so by Europe and the US in mobilizing about $15 trillion as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

However, when it comes to climate actions, he said advanced economies are failing dismally in raising the global goal of at least $100 billion annually in climate finance.

According to Anbumozhi, COP27 should move forward in the vital area of international technology and financial cooperation to cut GHG emissions by major outliers.

Singapore has announced that it will achieve net zero emissions by 2050, a powerful signal coming from a small country that accounts for only 0.1% of global carbon emissions.

China, India, and Indonesia are taking the lead in upscaling their renewable energy share, although their portion of coal and gas in energy supply remains more than 70%. Energy, transport, and land use contribute about 80% of GHGs emissions in ASEAN.

With massive investments flowing into emission intensive infrastructure, these countries could easily be locked in with high carbon growth for decades. Their action plan for decarbonization—gradual but progressive at present—needs to see a massive shift and speed, with the necessary technology and financial innovations.

Reaching a net zero economy by 2050 is the absolute minimum for all major emitters.

A recent study by the ERIA tells us that the goal is feasible for ASEAN and East Asia. They can decouple economic growth from carbon dioxide emissions and generate new green jobs, but these require bold policy innovations such as carbon tax and market-based instruments such as emission trading systems.

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