Significant role COP27 plays in South Asia

Apoorva Pathak
10 Min Read

The Conference of Parties (COP) is the annual meet up of the parties to the UN Climate Change agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention (UNFCCC). All nations which are Parties to the Convention make representations at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal obligations that the COP adopts and take decisions which are found necessary to promote the effective execution of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements.[1]

This was the 27th meeting under this agreement, wherein the parties have discussed the impending climate issues and declared their pledges to tackle climate change. More than 200 governments have been invited to the Conference. The said pledges were to be submitted before the Conference; however, only 25 parties did so. The Conference held from 6-18 November 2022 in Sham el-Sheikh in Egypt. Last year’s Conference was held on the heels of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and this year’s conference progressed under the dark clouds of Russia-Ukraine War. One of the significant economic impacts of the war is on the price of crude oil, which has sent shock waves to the economic status of various developing nations. Therefore, now, more than ever before, the parties realised the need to switch to cleaner energy sources.

COP27 had thematic days focussing on critical topics. November 9 was Finance Day, November 10 was Science Day & Youth and Future Day, November 11 was Decarbonisation Day, November 12 was Adaptation & Agriculture Day, and November 14 was Gender Day & Water Day, November 15 was Ace & Civil Society Day and Energy Day, November 16 was Biodiversity Day, and November 17 was Solutions Day.[2]

The Conference picked up from COP26 and saw negotiations upon some points that remained inconclusive after Glasgow meeting. Among other top agendas were the discussion on compensating the poor or developing nations for the “loss and damage” due to climate change. As a concept, loss and damage is the idea that rich countries, having emitted the most planet-warming gases, should pay poorer countries who are now suffering from climate disasters which they did not create. This has remained controversial because wealthy nations are concerned that paying such a fund could be seen as an admission of liability, which may trigger legal battles. Developed countries such as the US have pushed back on it in the past and are still tiptoeing around the issue.

At COP27, the biggest debate was, whether to create a dedicated financial mechanism for loss and damage – in addition to existing climate finance meant to help countries adapt to climate change and transition to clean energy. COP27 reached a historic agreement on a fund to compensate developing countries for losses and damage caused by the climate crisis.[3] The agreement sets up a transitional committee, with representatives from 24 countries, to establish how the fund should work and where the monetary source should emerge from. The group would then present its recommendations at the COP28 in the United Arab Emirates in 2023, with a view to getting the fund up and running.[4]

Topics such as the establishment of a global carbon market – to price the effects of emissions into products and services globally and strengthening the commitments to minimise coal usage were also discussed.

A significant part of the discussions revolved around financing. The global climate finance target, set at COP15 by developed nations, was supposed to be US$100 billion yearly from 2020 onward. So far, the pledge has not been fully met. The British International NGO ‘Oxfam’ estimates US$21 to US$24.5 billion as the “true value” of climate finance provided in 2020, against a reported figure of US$68.3 billion in public finance that developed countries said was provided — alongside mobilised private finance bringing the total to US$83.3 billion.[5] A strong message from COP27 is to reform multilateral development banks to provide more climate finance without pushing developing countries deeper into debt.[6]

This year’s summit was crucial for the South Asian states as they have witnessed some very intense natural disasters caused by climate change. According to the World Bank, by the end of the current decade, South Asian nations would incur costs of around US$160 billion (€163 billion) per year because of climate change. The financial institution also estimates that in the next three decades, the region will experience at least 40 million climate migrants.[7] South Asians are living under intensifying heat waves, cyclones, droughts, and floods. The scale and frequency of these events are testing the limits of governments, businesses, and citizens to adapt to the new normal.

Pakistan’s recent flood, which inundated that nation was one of the worst floods in living memory. It became the reason as to why some countries are fighting for a so-called “loss and damage” fund. Earlier this year, Pakistan also suffered from a deadly heat wave that climate change made 30 times more likely, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Pakistan is responsible for lesser than 1% of the world’s planet-warming emissions, but it is paying a heavy price.[8]

At COP27, India highlighted the most recent IPCC reports to emphasise that reaching the 1.5 or 2 degree Celsius temperature targets required the phase-down of all fossil fuels, not just coal. It is being termed as an effort to counter the pressure on coal, which is likely to come its way again.[9] However, the countries fell short of agreeing to a phase-down of all fossil fuels, which speaks on the energy crisis and the hold of the oil and gas lobby at this COP.[10] In addition, India has also emphasised the sub continent’s ‘lifestyle for the environment’ or LiFE mission, which refers to adopting a sustainable lifestyle, to position the country as going beyond policy-making, as it advocates for individual and community-level change to help the global fight against climate change.[11]

India joined the “Mangrove Alliance for Climate” (MAC) launched on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, on the side-lines of the UN climate summit COP27 along with Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Australia and Spain, spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It has been set up for the conservation of mangroves with cross-boundary cooperation to meet the intentional climate goals.[12]

Another point raised by an Indian representative was of technology, saying that Technology Needs Assessment for Sustainable Life” to identify technology needs and their assessment for adoption for the sustainable well-being of global citizens in the future.[13] Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed establishing an International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka with an ancillary institute in the Maldives to counter obstacles in implementing climate action plans.[14] Nepalese representative highlighted the need for enormous resources, technology and capacity to achieve the climate obligations and urged development partners to ensure adequate technical and financial support to economically and environmentally vulnerable countries such as Nepal.

In conclusion, the biggest win from the Conference was the successful establishment of a separate ‘Loss and Damage fund’, the mechanism of which will be discussed in the Conferences that are scheduled to take place ahead. It was something that all the South Asian countries, including Bangladesh, were pursuing, resulted in success. However, no decision on phasing out fossil fuels by the parties that still leave a considerable gap to realise the goal of reducing emissions.


Apoorva Pathak

(Apoorva Pathak is a doctoral candidate at Faculty of Legal studies, South Asian University, New Delhi. She has done her LLM with specialization in intellectual property rights laws at Gujarat National Law University, and completed her BALLB (Hons) at Maharaja Saiyajirao University of Baroda, India. Her interest area for research is human rights laws, international environment laws, conflict of laws.)





[4] Ibid


[6] ibid










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