COP27 has been described as the last chance to achieve a healthy future for humanity, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
This year the Conference of the Parties is taking place in Egypt.
As a collective, we are way behind in what needs to be done to rescue our climate and prevent catastrophes awaiting our planet.
No country is doing enough. However, developed countries, which ought to be resourcing and driving the desired change, are too slow to act.
There is clearly a lack of commitment and resolve.
The USA, for example, is very much held at political ransom by the powerful ‘fossil fuel’ lobby. Similarly, this can also be said about other developed nations.
It is against this background that we must assess the likely impact of the COP27 climate summit in Egypt.
Given the little progress following the COP26 summit in Scotland, the environmental preservation lobby, whilst welcoming the meeting of world leaders in Egypt, is naturally cautious about the likely outcomes.
World leaders are faced with three different sets of challenges.
Firstly, to get developed nations to dig deep down into their coffers, i.e, invest more in alternative sources of energy away from fossil fuels.
Secondly, to ring-fence sufficient resources for developing countries. This will protect them against climate-related catastrophes largely contributed by the developed world.
Thirdly, to support developing countries to make a transition from fossil fuel to other viable alternative energy sources, particularly as many developing countries are seeking to avail their fossil fuel reserves.
Pakistan is also represented at the COP27 by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Undoubtedly, he will be working closely with the leaders of other developing countries.
They will then plea to leaders of the developed world to share the burden of action required to save our planet.
Also, he should be lobbying for more international help for the reconstruction of Pakistan following the mass-scale destruction caused by the recent unprecedented flooding.
These are the areas the Prime Minister should be asked to report progress.
In his open address, the Secretary General of the UN said, “We are dangerously coming to the point of irreversible change.”
He added, “We know what to do. We have the tools to do what is required. What we need is commitment and action.”
The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, warned international leaders that the world could be facing a billion climate refugees if they fail to act.
The World Health Organisation issued a statement highlighting the importance of COP27. A snippet reads as follows;
‘Ahead of COP27, the stakes could hardly be any higher. The human and economic costs of climate change are overwhelming.
‘In a world of climate and ecological breakdown, we will fail to achieve every single Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
‘There is a deep interconnectedness in our world – from food and water and health to security, conflict, income, livelihoods and migration – that we have failed to understand and act upon.
‘We are at a critical moment in history because the health and climate crises are deeply connected, and climate change also affects the environmental and social determinants of health.
‘Both represent existential threats to humankind and all life on this planet. They require unprecedented coordination and a radical transformation from a business-as-usual attitude.
‘However, health has been effectively neglected in the COP negotiation process and its operational mechanisms.
‘Given the importance of health in the global economy, the high value of the health-related benefits (and co-benefits) of climate change mitigation, and the importance placed on this issue by the general public, it is overdue for health to have a more central place in the negotiations.
‘The likely health costs associated with climate change are already significant.5,6 Almost 25% of deaths worldwide are caused by environmental risk factors.
‘The death toll related to environmental factors in lower- and middle-income countries is higher than in high-income countries.
‘Current conservative estimates by WHO suggest that, between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
‘The direct damage costs to health (excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation) are estimated to reach some US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030.
‘These outcomes will be compounded by climate displacement which forces entire populations to abandon their homes in search of lands less affected by climate change, adding pressure to already overwhelmed health systems in other countries.
‘It is estimated that over 1.2 billion people could be displaced globally by 2050 due to climate change and conflict.
‘The first effects are already being felt mainly by lower-income countries in Africa, Central America10 and the Pacific.
‘To further complicate the situation, a spike in fossil fuel prices in a fossil fuel-dependent economy drives many people into energy poverty, food poverty and indeed overall poverty – with expected severe health impacts over their life course’.
To read more about what Islam says about the environment, click here.