Environment & Biodiversity

Shortcomings in the climate justice negotiations

Areas of the climate negotiations that are important to developing nations are either not covered at all or are covered insufficiently, while other areas are over-regulated. Sustainable development that is equitable is not even mentioned. The policy discussion was no longer supported by science at COP27.

Current negotiating process: problems

  • National carbon dioxide emissions from consumption in developed countries: Most people in these nations are unaware that the majority of their GDP is made up of the transportation, residential, and commercial sectors, which together account for two-thirds of their national carbon dioxide emissions. These sectors are not separate silos; rather, they are a reflection of their citizens’ urban lifestyles.
  • Ignores urbanisation and the need for fossil fuels in emerging countries: The approach ignores the fact that the population of developing countries will urbanise after a certain point, necessitating the use of fossil fuels for infrastructure and energy to reach comparable levels.
  • Infrastructure development in developing nations is necessary, but the enormous amounts of cement and steel that are required, which are essential emissions as cities grow, are not taken into account.

Foundation of the Climate Treaty in international environmental law questionable

  • US interpretation at the Stockholm Environment Conference in 1972: The United States Secretary of State claimed that “urbanisation has altered the nation with 75% of its population living in the urban area” in the run-up to the Stockholm Conference. We need to alter our habits of consumption and production in order to see ourselves as environmental aggressors rather than just environmental victims.
  • US-instituted scientific committee’s finding: “Long-range planning to cope with global environmental challenges must take account of the whole ecological burden; limiting that burden by systematic reduction in per-capita production of goods and services would be politically unpalatable,” a scientific committee said. Technology ought to be directed toward reducing the severity of human demands on the environment
  • Power play focused on risk management rather than technology transfer or the well-being of everyone within ecological bounds when it came to the utilisation of natural resources.

Climate negotiations: Differentiated common responsibility

  • Neglecting the goal: The goal of the Climate Treaty is to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, reduce cumulative carbon dioxide emissions, and promote sustainable economic growth.
  • Climate initiatives and agreements: A 1.5°C global temperature target was agreed upon in the Paris Agreement of 2015. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that net emissions should be eliminated by 2050. To cut down on upcoming emissions, discussions focused on coal in Glasgow in 2021.
  • Ignored the key findings of the IPCC report: This initiative was not grounded in science and it disregarded the IPCC’s key finding on the centrality of the carbon budget, or the total emissions corresponding to a given level of global warming, which scientifically links the temperature goal to national action.
  • The carbon budget and emerging nations: Carbon budgets are reliable because precise estimates may be made using climate models. They also combine the economics and climate in a way that is consistent with the science of both, making them the most useful for policy. The question of how late developers will achieve equal levels of well-being is raised by the IPCC’s 2018 estimate that 2,890 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide would be needed to have a 50% chance of avoiding more than 1.5°C of warming (it is currently less than 400 billion tonnes).

Weaknesses in Climate justice

  • Not the Climate Treaty’s content, but the discussions are what lead to climate injustice.
  • Rejected historical accountability and slowly shifted the weight to China and India: The process embraced the structure of international law in a way that rejected historical responsibility for an ongoing issue.
  • The agenda’s weakness was that it focused on globalised material flows rather than energy waste, which is what is actually causing global warming (the symptom).
  • Public finance is not employed to achieve a real goal; rather, it is used to achieve a political goal rather than to address the root of the issue. The incentive for developing countries to accept a global temperature goal—the $100 billion pledged in Paris together with pre-2020 commitments—has not materialised. A breach of trust will also occur since additional money for “Loss and Damage” will come from a “mosaic of solutions.”
  • A longer-term tendency has gone unnoticed: In 2035, industrialised countries will still make up 30% of the world’s population, which is one-sixth of the total. With half of the world’s population, Asia’s emissions will increase to 40% while still staying within its carbon budget. Their human rights are being replaced by demands to reduce emissions even more.


India’s emphasis on LiFE (or “Lifestyle for Environment”), which encourages people to reduce their wasteful use of natural resources, can be traced back to the original science. The “universalism” that has dominated the negotiations and its common course of reductions based on single models are challenged by consumption-based framing. The “diversity” of options is formalised by the carbon budget. For instance, replacing excessive red meat consumption with chicken in industrialised nations can help achieve half of the necessary decrease in world emissions by the year 2100.

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