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G-7 Climate Club: A grand grouping that needs global outreach

Jul 02,2022 - Last updated at Jul 02,2022

At the conclusion of the G-7 summit in Germany on June 28, leaders of the world’s most advanced economies committed to creating an international “Climate Club” with the aim of forging cooperation on the fight against global warming with the hope of keeping average global temperature rise under 1.5°C.

According to the summit’s communiqué, leaders were committed to “a highly decarbonised road sector by 2030” as well as “a fully or predominantly decarbonised power sector by 2035”. They also pledged to work with partners and to prioritise “concrete and timely steps towards the goal of accelerating phase-out of domestic unabated coal power generation”.

There is no doubt that the creation of the Climate Club is a good step forward in the battle against rising temperatures and fulfilling commitments under the Paris Agreement. The global framework aims to keep the increase in the global average temperature well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and move ahead with efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The fact that the US and these major economies — which are responsible for 25 per cent of energy system’s CO2 emission — adopted the idea and have shown strong commitment to the rationale behind the club is a success in itself. The intention is good, but what is needed is concrete action. Progress is slow at various fronts be it mitigation or adaptation efforts. In its latest major report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounded the alarm calling for drastic acceleration to cut emissions or the Paris Agreement target will not be achieved by the end of this decade.

Details on how the club will function are yet to be announced but the process is to be completed by the end of the year. However, based on previous climate action efforts, there is a need for introducing incentives for non-members to join the club.

For the club to succeed, it needs mass support and to move beyond the G-7 and to follow a path that would complement all the previous climate efforts that have been exerted over the years under the UN umbrella.

The participation of major economies, including the EU and the US, is a good start but making sure that the club does not solely rely on “voluntary membership” is of paramount importance. Although several countries pledged commitments, the reality tells another story as there is a possibility for continued free riding on the basis that “if some countries are cutting emissions, why should other countries bother”.

It is necessary to move beyond imposing fines or sanctions on non-members as the focus should be more on empowerment and collaboration with non-members, especially the countries with less financial resources and less capabilities.

Supporting and empowering developing countries, including Arab states in need of such support to be active members of the club is key to the club’s success and thus climate funding for developing states, which falls short of promises, needs to be accelerated.

Some Arab countries, which lack the resources, fall in the same categories.

Figures by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) late last year show that climate finance provided and mobilised by developed countries for climate action in developing countries looks likely to reach $100 billion in 2023, a target they should have met in  2020.

The UN Environment Programme stated that the annual adaptation costs in developing countries alone are currently estimated to be in the range of $70 billion, with the expectation of reaching $140-$300 billion in 2030 and $280-$500 billion in 2050.

Thus, the financial needs are growing, so is the need to effectively engage with developing countries and empower them to win the climate battles.

The Arab region, which is greatly dependent on food imports and whose water resources are stressed in a rapidly increasing manner, is no different and the need is dire for direct empowerment and support by the developed countries in this regard. The Arab region, as UN Habitat puts it, is “one of the most vulnerable regions of the world to the negative effects of climate change and is now considered the planet’s most water-scarce region”.

The UN agency warned that the effects of climate change are expected to reduce renewable water resources by another 20 per cent by 2030 in the Arab region.

We do not have the luxury of time and eyes are on the 27th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) to be held in Sharm El Sheikh in November. It will be a venue to effectively engage in dialogue, collaboration and come up with concrete measures to render the club a success.

We are all bearing the brunt of a hotter climate. We are all in the same boat; there are no winners or losers. We either all win or all lose in the fight against rising temperatures whose impact goes beyond and affects all aspects of life.

The upcoming Sharm El Sheikh meeting is a great opportunity and we do not have the time to wait until another conference.

 

The writer is editor-in-chief of The Jordan Times and regularly writes for international media outlets.

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