Skip to main content

UN climate change meet: Can we still find hope in the middle of increasing failure?

By Bharat Dogra 

COP 28 will be held at a time of increasing, perhaps overwhelming evidence that the targets set earlier to restrict global warming to 1.5 degree C above pre-industrial levels and to achieve reductions in GHG emissions in accordance this are being badly missed and so the world is at present on course to see higher levels of global warming, accompanied by several other catastrophic and possibly irreversible changes, sooner than it was anticipated earlier.
While this is what a lot of accumulating scientific evidence is telling us, an extremely important question is whether we can still find some hope, and if yes, where?
A more immediate question which several people are asking is whether COP 28 can contribute to giving new hope?
Well, on the basis of past record, unfortunately the more likely answer is to be in the negative. Still, keeping alive hope, one should instead ask whether COP 28 can at least be honest in explaining the undoubted big failures so far and identifying the real causes for this.
One of the more selfless things COP 28 can still do is to admit not just its own failures, but also admit that the narrow paradigm within which it functions and the severe limitations of its processes and agenda make it unlikely that COPs by themselves can become the main vehicle for achieving significant success on this front.
In addition to the narrow vision of COPs, the COP processes have also been adversely impacted, perhaps one should say corrupted, by big business interests. If big fossil fuel interests are allowed to have a big influence on COP processes and agenda, this is like assuming that those who cause problems will find effective solutions for them ignoring their self-interests. In the food and farm sector as well as in some other crucial sectors, big corporate interests are trying to take the world in the opposite direction of what is needed. Unfortunately, such corporate interests are also increasingly influencing and even funding several UN agencies, further reducing their credibility and that of COPs as well.
In the middle of these failures and setbacks, can we still find some hope? Yes, we can, but only as a part of much broader efforts to create a world based on justice, peace and environment protection.
Several serious environmental problems led by climate change (but certainly not confined to climate change) have combined together to create conditions which can disrupt the life-nurturing conditions of our planet. We have to develop a holistic vision to be able to check these problems effectively.
In addition there is also the very important threat of the never-ending wars and the relentless arms race. This makes it very difficult to secure the international peace, cooperation and mobilization that are needed to protect life-nurturing conditions of planet. This threat is manifested in its most extreme form in the accumulation of various weapons of mass destruction (including over 12,000 nuclear weapons, the use of just 10% of which is enough to destroy the entire world).
When the risks and stakes involved are so high, the patchy, incremental and uncertain agendas put forward at COPs are unlikely to achieve the bigger, time-bound results that are needed.
Hence we need a much broader agenda in which integrated solutions for some of the biggest problems can be found together. It is not very helpful if even in the best possible scenario humanity succeeds with great efforts made over 2 decades to achieve some protection of life-nurturing conditions, only for everything to be ruined within 2 hours of nuclear war.
Hence it makes much more sense to link up efforts to resolve the environmental (including climate change) crisis with the efforts for peace and disarmament. In a no-wars world, it becomes much more possible to reduce militarization and weapons-race (itself a big cause of GHG emissions) while also creating those conditions of international cooperation in which the various global efforts for checking climate change (including reformed COPs) and the wider environmental crisis have a much higher chance of success. Massive support of people including farmers and workers for this agenda of peace and environment protection can be obtained by linking this agenda closely with justice concerns. Once people’s livelihood interests and fulfilment of basic needs are linked closely with this agenda then their enthusiastic participation in afforestation, agro-ecology, green cities, soil and water-conservation etc. can be secured, and this can be the real game-changer.
Another important aspect of justice is to give much higher importance to adaptation aspects of climate change with special emphasis on protection from disasters, better help in disaster situations, much better protection for the most vulnerable people ( for example workers toiling in open space conditions or in conditions of thermal stress). Needs of the most vulnerable regions such as islands and coastal areas must get the highest priority.
Once it is realized that there are limits not just to resources but also to carbon space, then the production patterns have to be changed to meet basic needs of all on a priority basis, and this too can be assured by emphasizing justice and equality aspects. Hence a closely integrated agenda of justice, peace and environment protection is needed at world level within which it may be still possible to effectively check climate change and other most serious problems to a considerable extent.
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Man over Machine and A Day in 2071



A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

Post-poll mob lynching spree, bulldozer justice: NAPM seeks united resistance

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls "the horrific spree of mob lynchings across the country after the Lok Sabha election results", India's premier civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), has called for "united resistance" against "hateful communal politics, mob lynching of religious minorities and caste-based oppression".

Why convert growing badminton popularity into an 'inclusive sports opportunity'

By Sudhansu R Das  Over the years badminton has become the second most popular game in the world after soccer.  Today, nearly 220 million people across the world play badminton.  The game has become very popular in urban India after India won medals in various international badminton tournaments.  One will come across a badminton court in every one kilometer radius of Hyderabad.  

Ayurveda, Sidda, and knowledge: Three-day workshop begins in Pala town

By Rosamma Thomas*  Pala town in Kottayam district of Kerala is about 25 km from the district headquarters. St Thomas College in Pala is currently hosting a three-day workshop on knowledge systems, and gathered together are philosophers, sociologists, medical practitioners in homeopathy and Ayurveda, one of them from Nepal, and a few guests from Europe. The discussions on the first day focused on knowledge systems, power structures, and epistemic diversity. French researcher Jacquiline Descarpentries, who represents a unique cooperative of researchers, some of whom have no formal institutional affiliation, laid the ground, addressing the audience over the Internet.