COP-ing with the climate crisis: Top stories that you should not miss

Some of Frontline’s finest coverage of the climate emergency engulfing our planet.

Published : Dec 21, 2022 13:38 IST

Bill Gates, trustee and co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation, at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Bill Gates, trustee and co-chair of the Global Commission on Adaptation, at the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit in New York. | Photo Credit: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Much was made of the “loss and damage” fund announced in November 2022 at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. In simple terms, the fund would compensate countries vulnerable to the adverse impacts of a warming climate for the costs they have borne to recover and rebuild from the loss and damage they have already suffered.

But as C.P. Chandrasekhar writes in his analysis of the COP27 proceedings: “Calling on developing countries to make large contributions to mitigation and adaptation spending—even though their contribution to cumulative emissions is a small proportion of the total and their adaptation burden large—is not just unjust” but “also postpones and defeats progress with regard to mitigation and adaptation”.

In an unflinching assessment, R. Ramachandran points out that even though the creation of the fund is being seen as a major “breakthrough” and a “major victory for poor and developing countries”, the logistics of getting it operational is far from clear at the moment. Questions remain: Who contributes to this fund? How much does one contribute? And how exactly does calculate such contributions? One can only hope that COP28 will present some concrete answers.

On our part, we recognise that the climate emergency poses a very real threat and should we choose to ignore it, we do it at our own peril. That reflects in our reportage as well, and the following are some of the best pieces that have featured in Frontline in the recent past:

Poor, low-emitting regions bear brunt of economic burden of extreme heat

A study showed how much of the loss to the global economy between 1992 and 2013 because of climate change—estimated to be between $5 trillion and $29.3 trillion—was borne by low-income countries of tropical regions, which are not the primary drivers of human-induced global warming.

Bengaluru floods: When lakes overflowed

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed helps us understand how the loss of lakes, the destruction of natural canals, rampant corruption in land use changes, and the unholy nexus of politicians-bureaucrats-builders fundamentally altered the natural lay of the land in the suburbs, leading to the floods in Bengaluru earlier this September.

Kuttanad: The next vanishing wetland?

M. Gopakumar’s report delves into why Kuttanad, a unique wetland ecosystem in central Kerala, and the resilient community inhabiting it are now on the brink of disaster as a result of climate change, and the danger is exacerbated by a policy stalemate.

Climate finance: A costly dodge

C.P. Chandrasekhar argues why the burden of climate finance must be shared fairly while spelling out how much of these finance flows originate in the developed countries that are responsible for an overwhelmingly large share of cumulative carbon emissions.

Are hornbills in danger due to extreme weather conditions?

Hornbills are vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of their unique breeding habits. Aparajita Datta writes about how the Asian hornbills in Arunachal Pradesh’s tropical forests seem to be feeling the heat as rising temperatures are resulting in a host of other climate-linked consequences.

PHOTO ESSAY | Changpas in Ladakh see life disrupted by climate change

Living at an altitude of nearly 15,000 ft (around 4,500 m), the Changpas have coexisted with their livestock for generations in an unpredictable landscape lashed by wild winds and heavy snow. But in the last decade, the conditions in the cold desert have been getting harsher, more punitive, throwing them off balance.


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