With just three days to go before the next round of climate negotiations (COP28) is to begin in Dubai, things are not looking good on the climate front.

Three recent reports put out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) show that the global collective action on climate action is woefully inadequate compared with what it ought to be.

Emissions gap report

The Emissions Gap Report of 2023 notes that, as things stand today, global emissions of greenhouse gases will increase by 3 per cent in 2030, when they ought to decrease by 28 per cent, if the rise in global warming is to be limited to 2 degrees and 42 per cent for the ambition of 1.5 degrees.

If all the countries fully implement their unconditional promises (called Nationally Determined Contributions), the world will be warmer by 2.9 degrees by 2100, which is disastrous. If nations implement all the conditional promises (like, “I will do this, but only if you help me with this”), even then the planet will be hotter by 2.5 degrees over the benchmark average of the pre-industrialisation era.

UNEP’s Production Gap Report 2023 finds that governments plan to produce around 110 per cent more fossil fuels in 2030, which would be consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C and 69 per cent more for the 2°C target.

Adaption financing

The Adaptation Gap Report 2023 finds that “the adaptation finance needs of developing countries are 10–18 times as big as international public finance flows.”

Developing countries will need adaptation financing of $387 billion a year. In contrast, they got $21 billion in 2021, the report says.

“At the same time, adaptation planning and implementation appear to be plateauing. This failure to adapt has massive implications for ‘loss and damage’, particularly for the most vulnerable,” the report says.

The leading theme of the COP28 is ‘Global Stocktake’, which means the focus will be on checking what each country has done in terms of climate action vis-à-vis its promise. Going by the three UNEP reports, there is little for any country to boast about.

Clearly, climate action is going awry. To illustrate, as much as 110 GW of coal power capacity is still under construction outside of China, led by India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.

India seems to have hardened its stance. At the 6th Assembly of the International Solar Alliance, held in Delhi in October, the Union Power Minister, RK Singh, told the international gathering that it was understandable that the developed world was burning more fossil fuels in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war. He wanted a similar understanding from the developed world about India burning coal. “Don’t blame me if I burn coal—you have oil and gas; I have coal,” he said.