Review of the year 2022: Despite global unrest, the UN steadfastly seeks international climate accords

Date:

Despite global unrest, the UN steadfastly seeks international climate accords

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Wednesday, December 28, 2022
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The Ocean Conference in June, the COP27 Climate Conference in November, and the much-delayed COP15 Biodiversity Conference in December, three significant UN summits on climate change, showed that the organization accomplishes much more than simply stating the dire climate situation and calling for change.

  • At the conference, more than 6,000 participants, including 24 heads of state and government and more than 2,000 civil society organizations, argued for swift and decisive action to address the ocean problem.

  • But the negotiators were able to come up with a way to pay vulnerable countries back for the damage and loss that climate-related disasters caused, as well as agree on the language of an outcome statement.

  • Montreal promises to safeguard biodiversity more effectively fifteenth UN biodiversity conference, COP15, finally took place in Montreal this December after two years of delays and cancellations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • At the end of the conference, people agreed to protect 30% of the world’s lands, coastlines, and inland waters by the decade’s end.

Nobody in attendance at the UN climate conference (COP26) that ended in Glasgow at the end of 2021 could have predicted that the war in Ukraine would rock the world economy and force many countries to abandon their plans for a low-carbon economy as they rushed to lessen their reliance on Russian oil and gas supplies and secure fossil fuel supplies from other sources.

Many studies also showed that the Earth keeps getting warmer and that humans haven’t been able to cut down on carbon emissions or deal with the existential threat that the climate disaster poses.

The UN kept taking the lead on making international climate agreements, which is a slow, hard, but important job. They did this by putting pressure on major economies to do more to reduce their use of fossil fuels and by helping developing countries, whose people are suffering the most from droughts, floods, and extreme weather caused by humans.

Wildfires raging across parts of the western USA turned the sky over San Francisco orange.

Patrick Perkins/Unsplash

Wildfires burning in parts of the western United States turned the sky over San Francisco orange.

Heatwaves, drought, and flooding records

Throughout the year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued a number of sobering reports. The year was launched by a report published in January, which noted that 2021 had joined the list of the seven warmest years ever recorded.

During the summer, when several European countries had record heatwaves, the agency sent out a warning saying that we should get ready for more in the coming years, while Africa can expect a worsening food crisis centered on the Horn of Africa that will force millions of people to move. The agency also said that it is unlikely that four out of five African countries will be able to manage their water resources in a sustainable way by 2030.

While some areas struggled with a lack of water, others were devastated by floods. In August, heavy flooding and landslides caused by monsoon rains made Pakistan declare a national emergency. At their worst, nearly a third of the country was submerged. Millions of people were displaced.

More than 340,000 people were affected by unprecedented floods in Chad in August, and the UNHCR announced in October that 3.4 million people across west and central Africa needed assistance as a result of the worst floods in a decade.

Fossil fuel power plants are one of the largest emitters of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

Ella Ivanescu/Unsplash

One of the most important sources of greenhouse gases is power plants that use fossil fuels.

An addiction to fossil fuels that is “delusional”

In its October Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that human activity is a big reason why the climate is changing. It did this by talking about record levels of the three primary gases—carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane—which saw the biggest increase from one year to the next in 40 years.

Even so, the leading economies of the world responded to the energy crisis caused by the conflict in Ukraine by rebuilding old power plants and looking for new oil and gas sources, even though there was a lot of evidence that they needed to switch to a low-carbon economy right away.

At an Austrian climate summit in June, UN Secretary-General António Guterres slammed their response, calling it irrational and arguing that these countries could have avoided the volatility of fossil fuel prices if they had invested in renewable energy earlier.

The same month, Mr. Guterres compared the behavior of the fossil fuel industry to that of the major tobacco companies in the middle of the twentieth century, saying that “like tobacco interests, fossil fuel interests and their financial accomplices must not escape responsibility.” He also stated that “deferring climate action to address domestic issues rings hollow.”

Incorporating the perspectives of young people, including young women from highlands of Bhutan, into the Transboundary Partnership has been a key priority for the UN country teams across the region.
young women from Bhutan’s highlands

A healthy, clean environment is a fundamental human right

Building on a similar resolution that the Human Rights Council passed in 2021, the UN General Assembly’s decision in July to say that everyone has the right to a clean and healthy environment was a big step forward.

In a statement, Mr. Guterres said that the historic initiative would support the empowerment of people, particularly those who are in vulnerable circumstances, such as environmental human rights defenders, children, youth, women, and indigenous peoples, as well as the reduction of environmental injustices and the closing of protection gaps.

In October, Ian Fry, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Climate Change, talked about how necessary this action was. According to Mr. Fry, the resolution is already beginning to have an impact because the European Union is debating how to include it in national laws and constitutions.

Coral reefs are complex ecosystems that provide valuable habitat for fish and other animals.

Matt Curnock/Ocean Image Bank

Coral reefs offer fish and other species a crucial habitat.

UN climate conferences produced ground-breaking accords

Three important UN summits on climate change—the Ocean Conference in June, the COP27 Climate Conference in November, and the much-delayed COP15 Biodiversity Conference in December—showed that the UN does a lot more than talk about how bad the climate situation is and call for change.

At each meeting, people talked about ways to protect the environment and limit the damage and destruction caused by people.

Critical topics were discussed at the Ocean Conference, and fresh concepts were developed. Leaders from all over the world talked about how worried they were about the disaster in the ocean and vowed to act quickly, work together at all levels, and reach all of their goals as soon as possible.

At the conference, more than 6,000 people, including 24 heads of state and government and more than 2,000 civil society groups, argued for quick and decisive action to solve the ocean problem.

They stressed that for the needed solutions to be found, innovative and science-based projects and global cooperation are essential.

Funding for “Loss and Damage” agreed upon, a victory for developing nations

The UN Climate Conference (COP27), which took place in Egypt in November, appeared certain to fail because negotiations continued well after the summit’s scheduled conclusion.

But the negotiators were able to come up with a way to pay vulnerable countries back for the damage and loss that climate-related disasters caused, as well as agree on the language of an outcome statement.

It was a big win because these countries have been fighting for this kind of clause for decades. In the coming months, details about how the mechanism works and who it helps will be talked about.

On other important issues, like getting rid of fossil fuels and making it more straightforward that global warming must stay below 1.5 degrees Celsius, little progress was made.

Montreal promises to safeguard biodiversity more effectively

The fifteenth UN biodiversity conference, COP15, finally took place in Montreal this December after two years of delays and cancellations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the conference, people agreed to protect 30% of the world’s lands, coastlines, and inland waters by the decade’s end. Inger Andersen, who is in charge of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), called the result “the first step in resetting our connection with the natural world.”

About a million species are in danger of going extinct, which would hurt the variety of life on the whole planet. Scientists from the UN agree that if people don’t change how they interact with the environment, the situation will worsen and have terrible effects on people.

Impressive commitments are made in the agreement, known officially as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, but they must now be put into practice. It is hoped that a forum set up at COP15 to help nations speed up implementation will help turn the plan into reality since this has been a big problem at previous biodiversity conferences.

Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network

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