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Environmentalist Identify Loopholes On COP28 Outcome, Call For Caution

By Obiabin Onukwugha

The recently held Conference of Parties (COP28), has continued to generate reactions, especially as it relates the future of the African Continent in terms of the environment and economic development.

The latest is coming from foremost environmentalist, Nnimmo Bassey, who has expressed concerns on the decisions as elucidated in the final document signed by parties.

Dissecting the decisions, Bassey, who is the Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), said voluntary emissions reduction can work in a situation where there is no
crisis or urgency for action.

Bassey, who made his position known at a presentation in Lagos on return from Dubai last week, posited that COPs conducted on an unjust basis will continue to yield hollow outcomes that at best scratch the surface of the climate
crisis.

He said: “The foundation for voluntary emissions cut by nations was laid in the
Copenhagen Accord (2009) and consolidated in the Paris Agreement (2015) under what is known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). The voluntary mechanism essentially blunted the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), a cardinal justice principle of the UNFCCC.

“Whereas in the past, rich, industrialized and polluting nations were grouped as Annex 1 nations and had binding emissions reduction requirements, under the NDCs, there are no binding obligations. Nations simply have to do what is convenient for them to do and report back on what they have done to the COP. Such submissions were made for the stocktake at COP28.

“In addition, an aggregation of the NDCs proposed by nations showed that the world was heading for a 2.5 to 2.9C temperature increase above pre-industrial level. At that temperature level, there will be a spike in freak weather events and the overall conditions will make parts of the world uninhabitable.

“The reliance on NDCs lock in inequality and injustice in the entire climate negotiation process. With this understanding, my initial conclusion is that COPs conducted on an unjust basis will continue to yield hollow outcomes that at best scratch the surface of the climate crisis.”

He stated that though the COP28 has three significant accomplishments, there were uncertainties and loopholes, as it gave room for rich countries to continually exploit weaker nations and their resources.

“The three highlights are the adoption of
Loss and Damage Fund mechanism, the agreement to triple renewables
capacity and double energy efficiency by 2030, and the agreement to transition away from fossil fuels in energy. Yet, in all, the real winners are the army of fossil fuels lobbyists and the petro states.

“After kicking and screening for decades, the COP finally agreed to acknowledge that burning of fossil fuels must end. The phrase of transitioning from fossil fuels for energy was so carefully crafted it leaves an ocean-wide space for the fossil fuel industries to keep on
prospecting for, and extracting the resources.

“The restriction of the open-ended transition to renewable energy gives the industry the space to keep drilling for production of plastics, petrochemicals and diverse products. In other words, that celebrated clause does give a life line for the petroleum civilization to trudge on.”

Bassey Continued: “Adopting Loss and Damage on the first day of the COP was a master stroke. After years of demands for payment for loss and damage suffered by victims of climate change, this was a great moment. The slack was
that the funds would be warehoused in the World Bank, an institution
that has a reputation of being anything but a bank of the world.

“Having climate justice in quotes says a lot about the mindset of the nations with regard to the disproportionate climate change impact on vulnerable communities, territories and nations. The COP26 outcome document did not place climate justice in quotes, but added that it was only important to some.

“In other words, climate justice is not something of universal concern. COP28 avoided that blatant disregard of the Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), a clear climate justice principle in the climate convention.”

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