From today, October 31 to November 12, the international community will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is also known as the 26th Conference of the Parties COP26 and the Glasgow Conference. It will hold under the co-presidency of the United Kingdom and Italy. Organised on the platform of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement.
The significance of this conference which will have in attendance world leaders with the probable exception of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping is that it is the first time that parties at the conference are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since COP21. As outlined in the Paris Agreement, the parties are required to carry out every five years, a process colloquially known as the ‘ratchet mechanism’.
We recall that under the Presidency of Donald Trump, the United States of America pulled out of the Paris Agreement because of a misguided impression that the burden of implementing it will be much on that country. That ill-advised decision was reversed by President Joe Biden who plans to commit about $500 billion to issues relating to climate change. Originally scheduled to be held in November 2020 at the same venue in Scotland, the event was postponed for twelve months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around the world storms, floods and wildfires are intensifying emphasising the urgency of now in any effort to address the impact of climate change. Air pollution sadly affects the health of tens of millions of people and unpredictable weather causes untold damage to homes and livelihoods.
But while the impacts of climate change are devastating, advances in tackling it are leading to cleaner air, creating good jobs, restoring nature and at the same time unleashing economic growth. Despite these opportunities, experts are worried that the world is not acting fast enough stressing that to grip this crisis, countries need to join forces urgently.
Before now, talks were on to confront the menace of global warming as it is also known. These talks have led to agreements to step up efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
It is the expectation of many that by completing and implementing the Paris Agreement at Glasgow, it may yet be proof that the world is able to work together to tackle this crucial challenge. Many are of the opinion that by uniting behind a green recovery from coronavirus, which creates sustainable jobs and addresses the urgent and linked challenges of public health, climate change, and biodiversity loss, perhaps the world could safeguard the environment for future generations.
At the preceding COP 21 Conference in 2015, the 197 “Negotiating Parties” committed to drawing up long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. That was the first time that a universal agreement was reached in the fight against climate change. Certain legally binding rules apply to the States Parties, such as the obligation for developed countries to provide developing countries with financial support to enable them to implement the agreement.
The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties.
The main objective of the annual Conference of Parties (COP) is to review the Convention’s implementation. The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realised and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created.
In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.
Therefore, as the Conference kicks off today, we call the attention of the international community to COP21 agreement which obligates developed countries to provide financial assistance to developing nations like Nigeria to enable them implement the universal agreement that was reached in the fight against climate change.
With erosion in the South and desertification in the North, climate change in Nigeria is also posing a security issue that is assuming an international and humanitarian dimension through migration and internal displacement. It is from this standpoint that this newspaper urges the developed nations to act expeditiously so as to effectively bring under control global warming and its negative impact mostly on developing nations that contribute very little to the activities that bring climate change about.