09 July 2024

BRICS Expansion: Opportunities for Climate Change Cooperation

BRICS is the acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa: a group of colossal strength both economically and politically with global ramifications. The BRICS nations recognize that in dealing with climate change, they need to work closely with international bodies such as the United Nations (UN) if any meaningful progress is to be made. 

BRICS has been expanding and a new concept of BRICS Plus has originated, in January 2024, BRICS admitted five new members, namely, Egypt, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. This has been known as BRICS Plus, this expansion holds great significance for a range of issues, one of the most important being climate change.

Collectively, these nations account for approximately forty percent of crude oil production and exports, this in turn shows how collective and collaborative efforts to mitigate the problem of climate change can be addressed through transitioning to green energy resources. Furthermore, since these countries account for 1/4th of the world’s GDP and nearly half of the world’s population, the amount of impact that these nations can bring together is significant. Since more countries are added into BRICS, the range of the impact diversifies. BRICS Plus acts as one of the most important milestones in BRICS evolution, where for the first time more countries have joined the same.

Moreover, BRICS Youth Energy Agency, established in 2015, is a youth-led agency that focuses on research and cooperation in the fields of renewable and green energy, climate change, green strategies, and sustainable development, amongst many others. BRICS YEA aims to foster an environment to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by employing strategies through its research and cooperation initiatives.

One of the main issues where BRICS countries collaborate is climate change. From backing the Paris Agreement, to advocating for sustainable energy usage, climate change continues to be one of the main concerns of BRICS.

Great opportunities arise for climate change cooperation through the expansion of BRICS, firstly, it is significant how all the countries in BRICS are in the Global South, raising chances for more collaborative efforts and decreasing the Global South and Global North divide. Secondly, the transition to green energy and resources has become easier through the joining of new countries, which can help bear the costs and logistics needed for such an important transition and achieve rapid climate development. Climate action is the need of the hour, therefore, robust policies and global cooperation are required to combat climate change, which can be done through BRICS Plus.

The new BRICS offers the right set of circumstances where the nations can collectively work on global climate issues and collaborate on initiatives to combat climate change. As mentioned previously, the energy sector plays a significant role in the transition to green energy resources, through new nations entering this intergovernmental organization we can navigate how these nations can achieve affordable and sustainable energy. 

Focusing on BRICS YEA, initiatives and collaborations like the launch of the BRICS YEA Sustainable Ideas Bank and BRICS YEA SDG Platform put forward the mission of BRICS towards climate change cooperation as well. Being key partners at events like BRICS YEA engagement in UN Climate Change Conferences (from Glasgow to Sharm-el-Sheikh and Dubai), ⁠and BRICS YEA at UN ECOSOC Youth Forum conveys how important climate change cooperation is in the global tableau.

While talking about the 15th BRICS Summit, which was conducted in South Africa from August 22nd to 24th, 2023, with the theme ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism’, multiple challenges were identified along with possible solutions for the same. The summit was youth centric and was an eye opener for everyone to understand the problems that Africa faced regarding energy solutions. The summit connected the attendees with the government as well as the industries. At the end of the summit, the Johannesburg II Declaration was adopted amongst the BRICS nations. 

The declaration focused on a multilateral world and identified various issues to focus on, one of the most critical being sustainable development. It was concluded that multilateral cooperation amongst the nations is necessary to mitigate the issues of climate change and move forward with sustainable development. Identification of solutions of these issues were to be of top priority, issues like climate change, preparedness, pandemic protection, and response hold great significance.  It was also attributed that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gets achieved through implementing strategies in three dimensions, namely, social, economical, and environmental, in a balanced and equitable manner. In the declaration, it has been reiterated that promotion of employment opportunities and capability building are necessary for sustainable development. Furthermore, social protection policies and gender responsive employment play a huge role in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for BRICS nations. Lastly, it was agreed upon that integration of culture into national developmental policies is done to enable the goals for the same and raise awareness about culture and creative economy as a global public good.

To conclude, BRICS+ creates a symposium of various sectors, including climate change, energy trade, international finance, technological research, supply chains, and monetary policies. It provides the opportunity to collaborate on global issues such as climate change and promote a stable and peaceful environment with economic development and growth. It holds serious and positive implications for the world while focusing on the needs of the Global South as well.

Author: Nandita Lata, The Geostrata

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BRICS Expansion and Opportunities for Climate Cooperation