Still hopeful about COP 27

Atty. Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II

AS you read this column, environmental activists, scientists, and government officials in the thousands are gathered at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. This event is happening from November 6 to 18, 2022.

The Philippines has a delegation in the conference, many of whom were part of the preparations held in October. A consultation meeting was participated in by the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and 23 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that are actively working on climate change-related initiatives.

The rest of the country is keeping its fingers crossed that our COP 27 delegation will, indeed, achieve the desired results from the meeting. There are many groups and individuals worldwide who have expressed hopelessness about the COP meetings, saying that after such a long time and numerous conferences, we have achieved very little and are still far from hitting our targets. This is despite the global climate’s emergency situation.

There are important reasons for the Philippine representatives to work extra hard this year. We all know the country is one of the most affected places as far as climate change is concerned. The rise of sea level and severe weather events affect our people and property greatly. Livelihood, agriculture, and biodiversity all suffer.

According to experts, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more intense. For example, typhoons will be stronger and droughts will last longer. It will either be extremely hot, or extremely flooded/cold. If it’s any indication, the recent typhoons—Paeng, Agaton, Odette—have wreaked great havoc on our people and their livelihood, not to mention on various infrastructure and other assets.

COP 27 is crucial in that a critical matter will be (has to be) discussed —climate finance. The issue is not about raising targets, but rather a matter of raising money so poor countries can move away from coal, so developing nations can do their part. Targets are meaningless if some nations do not have the capacity at all to deal with the impacts of a heating planet. Ironically, these nations that are making the tiniest contributions to global warming are the same ones that feel its consequences more acutely.

Part of climate justice is the creation of a loss and damage finance facility. It’s also about fairly sharing the remaining carbon budget. Simply put, the poorer nations are saying that developed countries that have burned fossil fuels in the past in order to develop their economy have already taken more than their fair share of the carbon budget. They are, therefore, responsible for financial damages and losses from extreme weather events caused by climate change resulting from past emissions.

It definitely looks like there will be hot debates over this.

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