DC Edit | Rich nations must pay for decarbonisation

World has acknowledged that a climate deal should involve transitioning away from fossil fuels

At the conclusion of the 28th climate summit towards the end of another record hot year, it matters not what language nearly 200 nations agreed to but what they actually do. It might seem heartening that 30 years after the world began to sense that dangerous global warming was best avoided for the sake of the planet it is at least being acknowledged that a climate deal should involve “transitioning away from fossil fuels”.

To hold COP-28 in a petroleum producing state under the chairmanship of the head honcho of a fossil fuel firm and decide to hold the next one in another, in Azerbaijan, might not be such a bad thing if the idea was to take the ticklish subject of fossil fuels head-on. Critics might call the final resolution a copout rather than a binding agreement at a time when the planet is witnessing extreme heat waves as well as intense rainfall, powerful storms, alarming melting of the ice sheets as well as wildfires, all caused by global warming induced anthropogenic climate change.

To transition away from fossil fuels in a “just, orderly and equitable manner” was the final wording of the intent shown by many countries, most of all tiny island nations facing the greatest danger of being swallowed by rising tides of oceans. They are backing science the most towards the world attempting to get closer to the target of 1.5 degree Celsius above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times and leave the world in reasonable shape for the generations to come. But the planet has already warmed by 1.2 degree Celsius as measured in 2023, the hottest year in one lakh years.

The Dubai Consensus is just a strong signal to eight billion stakeholders in the future of the planet even if it took a tortuous 28 sessions to arrive at. There is a crucial rider to what was agreed upon at yet another climate summit that has become a jamboree attracting lobbyists and activists besides the key negotiators needed to forge a deal while juggling with the semantics of the words — phase-out, phase-down, transition. It has to do with money and who is going to finance this transition to cleaner sources of energy when the US, with the world’s largest economy, has also become the world’s biggest fossil fuel extractor.

The original polluters, which are today’s developed countries, must finance the transition though the best technologies to help do this are yet to be judged as the simplest way out. The irony of developing nations spending more on sourcing renewable energy than the richer ones was not lost on the summit. Estimates have it that global clean energy investments need to reach $4.5 trillion a year by 2030, up from around $1.8 trillion spent this year. Just who is going to fund this is a trillion-dollar question.

A special fund of $800 million for poor nations hurt by climate change was adopted at the summit, which is but symbolic. It is a pittance compared to the damage being wrought. India and China may heave a sigh of relief as only a phase-down of unabated coal power is being called for, because they need the “dirty” power to fuel their rise towards developed nation status. But the hard work of decarbonisation must begin and that is the biggest reminder in the message from the summit.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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