Saro Thiruppathy has lost hope in wasteful COP summits where good intentions to reduce global warming and prevent climate change go to die

COP27 was held in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh from 6 to 20 November but seven years since the Paris Agreement was reached, there’s hardly anyone left who believes that this mechanism will stave off climate change. Though the objective of the summit was to build on previous successes, the pitiful state of the planet since 2015 points more to failure than success.

In fact, the world has slowly but surely lost confidence in the rhetoric and empty promises trotted out by world leaders who regularly pledge to maintain global temperatures at 1.5°C below preindustrial levels.

HEAT AND GAS The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is a UN specialised agency, notes in its report titled ‘The Global Climate in 2015-2019’ that the Earth’s average temperature increased by 1.1°C since the preindustrial period and by 0.2°C compared to the period 2011-2015.

Another report by the WMO says that from 2015 to 2019, greenhouse gas concentrations showed a continuous increase in CO2 levels, thereby setting new records.  Carbon dioxide growth rates are nearly 20 percent higher than during the five years preceding the 2015 climate accord.

United in Science – a UN multi-agency report coordinated by the WMO – reveals the glaring gap between promises and reality. It warns that without more ambitious action, the physical and socioeconomic damages suffered as a result of climate change will exacerbate.

The report indicates that greenhouse gas concentrations are continuing to rise rapidly and fossil fuel emission rates have risen above pandemic levels, following a brief drop due to pandemic related lockdowns. And emissions reduction pledges for 2030 need to be seven times more if the 1.5°C ambition is to be achieved.

Predictions are bleak and it’s extremely likely that the planet will soon reach the climate tipping point. And the most vulnerable people will suffer the most due to extreme weather events in various locations on the globe.

These events include rising sea levels, floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires, which have worsened over the years.

Since 2015, heads of state have talked and promised the moon. They’ve increased fossil fuel usage and emissions by flying to and from climate summits, and splashed tons of money on these meetings. And all the while, vulnerable nations that are facing an existential threat have no choice but to simply sit by and watch.

FAILED ACCORD So why is the climate accord on a slippery slope to being scorched?

The Head of Sustainable Finance at J. Safra Sarasin Sasja Beslik notes in his 2019 article that “the Paris climate agreement is a joke. And I should know – I was there when it was drafted.”

He explains: “Many of my colleagues and I insisted that the stipulations in the agreement weren’t strict enough to stave off the effects of global warming but our pleas were ignored, and the agreement was passed. The result is a hollow accord that, despite its perception, does nothing to address the existential threat of climate change. In fact, it all but assures the destruction of the world and mass human tragedy.”

Beslik says the carbon emissions goals aren’t ambitious enough to keep global warming “well below two degrees Celsius.” The agreement doesn’t include a global tax on carbon. Without it, there’s no incentive for countries to stop using cheap fossil fuels and transition to sustainable sources of energy.

There’s no punitive action against countries that don’t honour the agreement. There’s also no provision for a regulatory body to monitor national commitments and hold countries accountable for polluting the planet. And there aren’t any sanctions or monetary fines for errant nations.

The Paris Agreement does not provide sufficient incentives for nations to invest in businesses that actively promote social and environmental sustainability, rather than organisations that harm the planet.

Worst of all, the Paris Agreement gave false hope to the people of the world. The fact that the accord has failed is evident in the rising climate related destructive events that are wreaking havoc on the planet and its people.

Beslik says that since 2015, global carbon emissions have risen by about four percent, emissions from all fossil fuel sources increased in 2018/19 – coal emissions rose one percent, oil by 1.7 percent and gas by three percent.

RECOMMENDATIONS He recommends amending the climate accord so that nations can reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The amendments should include instituting a global carbon tax, establishing a regulatory body to hold countries accountable for their emissions – with fines and sanctions for those failing to honour their commitments – and ensuring that governments stop subsidising fossil fuels and reallocate capital to support sustainable businesses.

He adds that according to the UN, countries need to invest US$ 2.4 trillion in the energy system by 2035 (that’s around 2.5% of global GDP), if the world genuinely wants to stave off cataclysmic climate change.