Progress and disappointment on climate change at COP27

Instead of ‘justice and ambition’ let’s talk about equity and consumption

The report projects the average calorie consumption of Indians remaining at the current level of 2,600 kcal per capita (Unsplash)

At the conclusion of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 19 November 2022 the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “From the beginning, this conference has been driven by two overriding themes: justice and ambition. Justice for those on the frontlines who did so little to cause the crisis – including the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan that inundated one-third of the country. Ambition to keep the 1.5 degree limit alive and pull humanity back from the climate cliff.

“This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period. Clearly this will not be enough, but it is a much-needed political signal to rebuild broken trust. The voices of those on the frontlines of the climate crisis must be heard. The UN system will support this effort every step of the way. 

“Justice should also mean several other things: Finally making good on the long-delayed promise of US$ 100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries; Clarity and a credible roadmap to double adaptation finance; Changing the business models of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. They must accept more risk and systematically leverage private finance for developing countries at reasonable costs. 

“But let’s be clear. Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now – and this is an issue this COP did not address. A fund for loss and damage is essential – but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map – or turns an entire African country to desert. The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.” 

Although there is a fledgling agreement on rich nations financing poor and vulnerable nations for loss and damage caused by climate change historically, there is disappointment in the non-agreement of cutting back on all fossil fuels. Climate change will greatly affect Asia and Africa’s food production and consumption. Since the bulk of the packaging industry in emerging economies is based on the hygienic supply of food, this should be a concern.

Hunger to rise in India and East and South Africa

The number of Indians at risk from hunger in 2030 is expected to be 73.9 million in 2030 and if the effects of climate change were to be factored in, it would increase to 90.6 million, with the aggregate food production index likely to drop from 1.6 to 1.5. India’s food production could drop by 16% and those at risk from hunger could increase by 23% due to climate change, says the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) report on climate change and food systems. 

These projections are part of a model to evaluate the impact of climate change on aggregate food production, consumption (kcal per person per day), the net trade of major food commodity groups, and the population at risk of going hungry. The IMPACT model simulates national and international agricultural markets. It was developed with inputs from scientists from the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) and other leading global economic modelling efforts.

The report projects the average calorie consumption of Indians remaining at the current level of 2,600 kcal per capita per day by 2030 even with climate change. Baseline projections indicate that global food production will grow by about 60% over 2010 levels by 2050, with demand projected to grow more rapidly in developing countries, particularly in Africa, than in developed countries, due to anticipated growth in population and incomes.

However, the long-term impacts of Covid-19 and other current geopolitical factors have not been incorporated in these projections. Also, diets are also shifting to higher-value foods, including more fruits and vegetables, processed and animal-source foods, outside the developed economies. Meat production is likely to double in South Asia and West and Central Africa by 2030 and triple by 2050. Despite this growth, the per capita consumption levels in developing countries will remain less than half of those in developed countries.

By 2050, production of fruit and vegetables is projected to double in Africa and West Asia while production of processed foods is expected to more than double in Southeast Asia and West and Central Africa. By that year, the average dietary energy consumption is projected to increase by about 10% globally to more than 3,000 kcal per capita per day.

However, regional differences in access to food mean that nearly 500 million people will remain at risk of hunger. About 70 million more people will be at risk from hunger because of climate change, including more than 28 million in East and Southern Africa, says the IMPACT report.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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