State representatives of the world are uniting in Madrid, Spain for the 25th Conference of Parties (COP25) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP25 is an important event as it is the final COP before the States parties submit their new plans of action in 2020. Alongside this, the conference will include discussions on long-term climate goals such as reducing emissions 45 per cent by 2030, achieving climate neutrality by 2050 (which means a net zero carbon footprint), and stabilising global temperature rise at 1.5°C by the end of the century.
The Conference incorporates the discussion of the subsidiary bodies under UNFCCC, i.e. the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). The function of SBSTA is to suggest changes to the policies based on the findings of scientific bodies such as the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) whereas the SBI works at enhancing and examining the implementation ambitions of the parties.
As one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, Bangladesh has an important role to play at COP25. So far, it has played a proactive role in addressing climate change- it was one of the first countries to submit its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). Last month, the Parliament of Bangladesh declared climate change a ‘planetary emergency’. The COP25 is an appropriate platform in which the concerns addressed in the resolution can be presented before the international stakeholders.
Another important point of discussion will likely be on funding. The developed countries have agreed to contribute an annual amount of 100 USD funding from 2020 onwards - the aspect of financial support from developed countries is crucial and the implementation of this agreement will be pertinent for Bangladesh and other developing countries. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) formed under the UNFCCC currently has about 10 billion USD of funding. With the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement and some other developed nations shying away from financially contributing to climate adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing nations, COP25 would have to address the way forward in raising and replenishing GCF and other financial mechanisms aimed at building climate resilience in vulnerable communities.
Saleemul Huq, the director of International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University, Bangladesh attended the meeting of the subsidiary bodies in June this year and from his experience, stated that Bangladesh, along with LDCs, decided to focus on the topic of loss and damage in the agenda for this year’s COP. This matter has been politically sensitive since its inception. Developing and vulnerable nations have been consistently advocating for ensuring liability of industrialised nations in anthropogenic climate change and its resultant harm in vulnerable countries. However, this has been strongly opposed by developed nations. The Paris Agreement, although providing for a continuation of the Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage, states that is does not ‘provide a basis for compensation’. Therefore, it is easy to assume that the negotiations will be difficult at the least.
Bangladesh would also benefit from discussions on easier access to finance and technology for a smooth transition to a sustainable energy system. Being one of the most densely populated country heading towards urbanisation and experiencing a great rise in GDP, it is natural that the government will want to ensure that its national interests regarding economic growth is protected. At the same time, it should also strive to meet its agreement to contribute in mitigation efforts and reduction of GHG emission.
From Law Desk.