Sustainable future

March 7, 2023In Sustainable futureBy Cecilia11 Minutes

After being addressed for many years in an overly technical way, far from citizens’ and companies’ needs, the wide-ranging topic of environmental sustainability, performance reporting and the fight against climate change is gradually assuming more and more relevance in the daily debate.
Hence, we decided to interview who has been involved in the comprehensive diffusion of these issues for a long time, despite the young age. Nadia Paleari, Innovation and Sustainability Strategist and consultant at Refe Milano (Redesign’s partners for over ten years) has summarized for us her experience at COP27, broadening the horizon on next year’s event and the Italian perspective on these issues.

COP27 was a pivotal event in charting the guidelines that will lead the planet through what many call “the most important challenge of the new millennium,” namely, safeguarding environmental sustainability and combating climate change. What were the key points and moments of the event?

N: COP27 has already become a milestone in the history of climate diplomacy, attracting, for the weeks of negotiation, the attention of the media and the general public. The Conference has been not only an high-level diplomatic event, extremely technical, but at the same time a mass demonstration with active involvement in the negotiations of all civil society. We already had this media trend during COP26 in Glasgow, justified by the fact that it was the first edition after two years of pandemic. COP26 also was the first diplomatic appointment on climate after the birth and affirmation of climatic movements such as Fridays For Future. This year COP27 took place in Sharm el-Sheik in Egypt and the geopolitical scenario was different and less favorable because of the conflict in Ukraine and the ensuing global energy crisis. Furthermore, 2022 has been a very important year for climate diplomacy: in June Stockholm hosted the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), exploring the state of the climate, what has happened in these 50 years and what needs to be done. During COP27, the absence of Putin and both Chinese and Indian leaders was negatively significant but, on the other hand, the positive attendance of Lula, leader of Brazil, and his environmental policy for the Amazon rainforest was very successful. This context alone is sufficient to make it clear how high the expectation for COP 27 was. “Together for Implementation” was the central theme of COP27 just to implement new actions for global environmental policies, as established by the Paris Agreement. The main goal of COP27 was to limit the fossil fuels and put greater efforts on finding better solutions to pollution in order to respect the limit of 1,5 degrees. We can say that finally COP27 turned out better than expected with the creation of a loss and damage fund and the recognition of the need for a revision of the global financial system. Despite major gaps in decisions regarding emissions and mitigation, COP27 led to the creation of a Loss and Damage Fund and made important strides on the economic front with the recognition of the need for an overhaul of the global financial system.

About Loss and Damage Fund, can you explain its main aspects?

N: The historic decision to establish a Loss and Damage Fund was undoubtedly the great victory of COP27. It is a measure already proposed and discussed during the previous COPs, but never formally approved until now due to the geopolitical deadlock between developing and industrialized countries, due to the related issues of responsibility and financing. The Loss and Damage Fund marks a historic milestone because it finally recognizes the right to compensation, through a global financial aid mechanism, for the consequences of catastrophic climatic events caused by climate change in the most affected countries. The fund provides financial support to countries for the repair and reconstruction of infrastructure, the protection of cultural assets and the safeguarding of human life and ecosystems. Sherry Rehman, Climate Minister of Pakistan, said It is an important step in the global climate justice movement. Once formally in force, I believe it has the potential to become one of the greatest examples of global cooperation.

After COP27, what do you think will be the most important future issues to be addressed at COP28?

N: At COP28 attention will necessarily need to turn to establishing commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to clean and renewable energy sources, and adaptation to climate change already underway, issues that were passed over too quietly at COP27. In particular, I can envision an increased focus on progress in the implementation of the national emission reduction commitments (NDCs) globally adopted at the 2015 Paris Agreement. Also discussed will be the actions needed to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and the creation of mechanisms for transparency and accountability for commitments made nationally and internationally. Unfortunately, there are already controversy in the run-up to COP28, and one wonders how much of this agenda can actually be discussed: Sultan Al Jaber’s appointment as COP28 chairman has raised quite a few criticisms and concerns about potential conflicts of interest, given his position as CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, one of the world’s largest oil companies.

In 2023, there will be a summit on climate focused on the measures to keep the rise in temperature within 1,5 degrees. In your opinion, how important will this topic be?

N: COP28 will be an important moment to discuss and decide the necessary measures about this issue, named “Keep 1,5 Alive!”. Mr Alok Sharma, President of COP26, reaffirmed the goal as the bare minimum to yearn for to allow a sustainable development and it will require a significant reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions and a greater transition to clean and renewable energy sources. COP28 will be the forum for discussion about the actions to be taken in order to respect these goals and how countries will adapt to climate change. Furthermore, it will also discuss how countries can adapt to climate change already underway and how they can prevent future risks. COP28 will also evaluate the Paris agreement and the progress made by countries in order to achieve the established objectives. This evaluation, known as Global Stocktake (GST) will help countries to act in order to avoid disastrous consequences of climate change. In other words, a “global inventory” will be carried out at COP28 to collect key information relating to the verification of progress made in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to identify gaps and opportunities for action that still exist. This global stocktake will help countries step up climate action with the aim of taking action to avoid the most dire consequences of climate change.

Let’s wrap up with a question more on the Italian as is: in the run-up to COP28, how will our country present itself at the 2023 event? What do you think is our general situation in light of the issues that will be discussed?

N: I believe that in light of COP28, Italy faces both challenges and opportunities with regard to combating climate change. Although it has set ambitious emission reduction targets, there is still significant progress to be made, especially in the transportation sector, which is still a notable source of emissions. In addition, Italy is facing profound challenges in climate change adaptation, such as in hydrogeological risk management and cultural heritage protection. However, there are also great potential for our country, particularly in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency, where significant progress has been made. Certainly, our country will have to work harder to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, and this will require a sustained commitment from government, the private sector and civil society to implement effective policies and actions. Recently, the Italian government published the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (PNACC), but the recent resignation of the Special Envoy for Climate, Alessandro Modiano, has raised concerns about the ongoing strategy undertaken and the implementation of the PNACC. Hence, we still need to know how the new executive will pursue these issues, and whether the emphasis on energy security will not come at the expense of the transition to clean sources. In this light, the confirmation of the Italian Climate Fund, a five-year financial measure of more than 800 million developed with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (Cdp) under the Draghi government, now inherited by the new executive, is reassuring.

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