‘Constructive talks’ on climate change

‘Constructive talks’ on climate change

The biggest in-person gathering on climate change since the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March 2020 began and ended this month with China and the United States in what top Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua described as “constructive talks.”

Xie met his US counterpart John Kerry at the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt as formal bilateral talks resumed after being suspended for months over the Taiwan issue.

“Discussions between China and the US … [were] very candid, friendly, active and positive, and very constructive,” Xie was quoted as saying by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

This came as the nearly 200 nations at COP27 reached a hard-fought, last-minute deal to set up a “loss and damage” fund for poorer countries battling extreme weather, caused by decades of carbon pollution from the developed world.

The summit nearly collapsed over the finer details, but tense negotiations overnight were able to push the agreement through.

The 13-day UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27 – being the 27th edition of the Conference of Parties – which ended on November 18 brought together 35,000 people with heads of state and government like US President Jose Biden and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

Many have described COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh as the event where the future of climate action was hopefully decided.

With much at stake, these were three things on the discussion plates of participants:

  1. We have no time to lose.

The last seven years have been the hottest on record, and we are rapidly approaching dangerous tipping points for our health and safety.

  1. There are major topics on the table. Two big ones are finance, and loss and damage.

–Finance: Addressing the climate crisis not only requires a lot of money – trillions of dollars – but it also means changing the way our entire global financial system works.

Recognizing the high stakes of tackling climate change, developing countries are already allocating precious dollars towards mitigation and adaptation. This money is a crucial investment in the safety and prosperity of their citizens for generations to come.

At the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, developed countries committed to the goal of mobilizing US$100 billion each year for climate action in developing countries.

The commitment was reiterated in the Paris Agreement. However, this target remains unmet.

–Loss and damage: This term refers to what happens when the impacts of climate change are irreversible.

Loss and damage arising from the adverse effects of climate change can include those related to extreme weather events but also slow onset events, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, and more.

When a coastline or a community is lost forever, it’s devastating. How to address it has been debated for years.

At last year’s COP26, this was a major demand of island nations, This year is no different.

  1. All eyes were on big emitters.

The group of 20 largest economies – or G20 – emits around 80 percent of global emissions.

Although many developing countries, especially those supported by UNDP’s Climate Promise, are setting ambitious goals, officials and some participants, including those from the Philippines looked to developed nations to follow suit.

With the global landscape shifting dramatically, the crisis has become the new normal, according to climate experts.

Climate change impacts, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, rising food and fuel prices, supply chain disruptions, and political instability, including the global impacts of the war in Ukraine, have all demonstrated the interconnectedness of our economies.

In our next episode, we will try to look at what the Paris Agreement has laid out as a collective and transformational solution.


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