Wanted: New leaders to tackle climate change challenge
Vikram S Mehta writes: COP27 should be led by a collective of experts, who can accelerate the implementation of the action plan towards net zero.
I did not intend to write about COP26. Much has already been written about the subject and I am no climate change expert. But I changed my mind after reading Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk. The book triggered the reflection that the current gap between the ambitious rhetoric of climate change summitry (“blah blah” in Greta Thunberg’s words) and action can only be bridged by shifting the loci of responsibility and authority for climate change governance from those fixated on the short-term and, in the larger scheme of matters, inconsequential details like the next elections, to those who have a track record of bringing about radical change in the face of adversity. I know this reflection goes against the structure of the present international order and I will be critiqued for engaging in an academic parlour game. But I believe, on occasion, there is merit in arguing the counterfactual. That is why I share my thoughts.
After 26 meetings, it is clear COP summitry can make incremental progress. The world has, however, run out of time. It must accelerate the implementation of the action plan towards net zero. For that, it must redesign the nature of climate change governance.
COP26 was not all “blah blah”. Ninety per cent of the world committed to a net carbon zero target; 23 countries agreed to stop financing fossil fuels by the end of 2022; 100 countries committed to end deforestation; the accounting systems for calculating carbon emissions were finalised and notably, the phase down of coal and inefficient fuel subsidies was accepted. On the substantive issue of climate finance, however, it was still “blah blah”.
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