Abdul Gani Malik, a 75-year-old goldsmith living in Kashmir’s capital, Srinagar, has witnessed eras of tranquility and turbulence in the Himalayan region. What he has not seen, however, is a snowless Kashmir during the winter.
Najboon Khatun looks up at the sky every day, searching for the possibility of rain. Clouds come and go without a drop of water. “Winter crops like wheat and vegetables need water, but like last year, there has been no rainfall yet,” says 65-year-old Khatun, expressing her anguish.
In her village in Dhanusha, one of the agricultural hubs in the southern plains of Nepal, farmers mostly depend on rain as a source of irrigation. However, they are facing yet another year of drought, affecting winter crops, including wheat, mustard, lentils, and vegetables.
The road to COP29 has begun in earnest in the backdrop of a global climate report indicating that not only was 2023 the warmest year in a 174-year climate record, it was the warmest by far. Record-breaking temperatures, combined with El Niño, pushed vulnerable and poor nations in the Global South to the frontlines of extreme and severe weather events.
Alpine skier, 28-year-old Muhammad Karim, has spent the winter with his eyes skyward, wishing and hoping for deep and abundant snow. “My bread and butter depend on the snow,” said the Olympian, who is also a ski trainer, at Naltar Ski Resort, in the valley by the same name nestled in the Gilgit-Baltistan’s Karakoram mountain range.
In the tranquil village of Kotiang, perched on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya's lakeside region, Yvonne Atieno, a dedicated mother in her early thirties, tends to her fish pond under the relentless equatorial sun. Her young daughter eagerly joins her mother in this nurturing endeavor. Yvonne, a certified accountant by profession, reflects on how her decision to embrace regenerative farming has not only enriched her life but also imparted invaluable life lessons.
At high cost and with dubious efficiency, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have increased private profits at the public expense. PPPs have proved costly in financing public projects.
As a child on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Yamide Dagnet dreamed of launching rockets into space.
She stuck to science, discovering her path in chemical engineering. She became a scientist focused on critical reactions to solving real-world problems like improving water quality in the United Kingdom.
The year 2023 has brought so much tragedy, with incomprehensible loss of lives, whether from wars or devastating ‘natural’ disasters, while our planet has seen yet more records broken as our climate catastrophe worsens.
And so as the clock ticks towards the (mostly western) New Year, readers are traditionally subjected by media outlets like ours to the 'yearender'—usually a roundup of main events over the previous 12 months, one horror often overshadowed by the next.
Five years ago, farmer Sehlisiwe Sibanda would walk into a nearby forested area to fill a scotch cart with huge wood logs for cooking and heating; a pile of firewood would last her a week during the summer.
But now she does not need a cartful of huge logs. Small branches and twigs are enough to last for more than a month.
Conflicting emotions greet the outcomes of COP28. After 28 years of climate conferences, an agreement has, for the first time, proclaimed that fossil fuels are the biggest culprit behind the warming of our planet and stated that it would encourage all nations to “accelerating action in this critical decade so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science." The agreement calls for, among other things, a tripling of renewable energy by 2030, but also an increased pace in the work to develop technical solutions for the separation and storage of carbon dioxide, an extremely expensive and, so far, limited effort.
"The rich world has caused the climate change that is drying up our water sources, and here we are doing everything we can to recover them because otherwise we will die," said Juan Hilario Quispe, president of the small farming community of Muñapata, just over 50 kilometers from the Peruvian city of Cuzco.
While the outcomes of COP28 are being hotly debated in both the scientific and social justice arenas, the climate conference has taken an unprecedented step forward toward a just transition, says Yamide Dagnet, Director for Climate Justice at the Open Society Foundations.
It was an extraordinary COP Summit in a year characterized by record-breaking temperatures combined with El Niño, producing a climatic carnage in Africa—deaths from fatal floods in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, and Libya, where floods wiped out a quarter of a city.
Deadly cyclones in Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe; a severe drought in Kenya, Niger, Somalia, Ethiopia, Mauritania, and Djibouti; and a months-long winter heatwave in southern African countries—the need for COP28 to deliver the highest ambition on all items.
On November 30, the first day of COP28, the much-awaited Loss and Damage Fund—a landmark decision to compensate the world’s most climate-affected and climate-vulnerable people—was declared operational. Announcing the decision, COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber said, ‘the fact that we have been able to achieve such a significant milestone on the first day of this COP is unprecedented. This is historic.”
During his childhood, Joshua Amponsem spent a lot of time in his dry rural community collecting water from the streams. “It was normal,” the co-director of the Youth Climate Justice Fund says in an interview on the sidelines of COP28. “We didn’t talk about climate change.”
Wealthier nations must deliver the finances so developing countries can adapt—the time for excuses is over, says Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Bangladesh's Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Prime Minister's Office.
It is a global catastrophe of astounding proportions that millions of children are on the run today, forcibly displaced from their homes. As conflict and climate change increasingly become the most pressing challenges facing the world now, the number of displaced children has doubled in the last decade alone, reaching a record high of 43.3 million children.
An award-winning international development expert and a climate justice expert have called for a rethink of the global financial system that would bring reparatory justice to small, climate-vulnerable nations while offering concessionary development financing to the countries most in need of assistance.
Hannah Ryder, the Chief Executive Officer of international development consultancy Development Reimagined, and Yamide Dagnet, Director of Climate Justice at the Open Society Foundations, for a side event on the margins of the Dubai Climate Talks on December 7.
A record-breaking drought is unfolding in the Horn of Africa, where millions of people are trapped in the world’s worst acute food insecurity emergency. Food insecurity and malnutrition in West and Central Africa are on track to reach a 10-year high as coastal countries edge even closer to the debilitating effects of climate change.
Across the African continent, many first-born children in poor and vulnerable households do not go to school as they spend their school days collecting biomass fuel. The regional average of the amount of time spent collecting firewood is 2.1 hours, robbing women and girls in particular of hundreds of hours in a year and crippling their capacities to engage in learning and productive activities.
Women bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and inclusion at both the highest level and in the community is key to mitigating its impact. Today, the announcement of the COP28 Gender Responsive Just Transitions and Climate Action Partnership put women at the centre of climate solutions—with a collective endorsement that symbolized a paradigm shift in global commitment.