MORE THAN THE DAY AFTER IT SHOULD HAVE ENDED, COP26 finally came to an end when 197 parties agreed to the recently named “Glasgow Climate Pact”. There have been several notable achievements. The countries have pledged to further accelerate their decarbonisation plans and, in particular, to strengthen their emission reduction targets for 2030 by next year, rather than 2025, according to the five-year timetable set by the Paris Agreement. Developed countries have been “encouraged” to double funding for adaptation in developing countries by 2025. The rules for creating a framework for the global carbon market have been approved, resolving an issue that has plagued negotiators since 2015. The need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a whopping 45% by 2030 has been officially recognized. Not the material of triumph; but also not a train wreck.
The final moments, however, were hardly joyful. Speaking from the Chamber at the final plenary session, India demanded a change in a particularly contentious point. Instead of advocating for “accelerating efforts to phase out coal and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels,” the country’s leading negotiator called for an escalation of “efforts to gradually reduce coal energy and phase out inefficient subsidies.”
This explicit recognition of coal and fossil fuels as major drivers of climate change has been marked as a major breakthrough. The European Union, Switzerland and many developing countries, which had previously strongly objected to the wording being diluted once through the qualifiers “immutable” and “ineffective”, expressed outrage. But in the end they decided they could not allow it to break the agreement. Alok Sharma, president of COP26, briefly burst into tears before handing over the modified package. “I apologize to all the delegates for the way this process unfolded. I am very sorry, ”he said. His voice broke when he concluded, “But I think, as you pointed out, it’s very important to protect this package.”
The feeling of compromises made in order to maintain some progress permeated the last hours of the summit. Many countries have spoken out about the seriousness of the concessions they are making in pursuit of consensus. Almost every developing country has expressed deep disappointment that no specific agreement has been reached to compensate vulnerable countries for the damage they are already experiencing due to climate change. (They also noted that the compromise on which the text settled – with the promise of further “dialogue” on such “losses and damages” – would be acceptable only if the dialogue takes place quickly.) Although in the finale he was mentioned a lot. hours, the inability of developed countries to give developing countries the long-promised $ 100 billion a year by 2020 was felt acutely and became a point of negotiation. (The final decision requires that it be delivered as soon as possible and increase the amount they give from 2025.)
In his latest statement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the decision stems from “the interests, conditions, contradictions and the state of political will in the world today.” Difficulties in assessing the fruit of the last two weeks in Glasgow largely reflect the difficulty of using such a sclerotic process as international diplomacy for such a pressing issue as climate change. The gap between the action taken and the action needed to guide the world towards the Paris Agreement – to keep temperatures below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels until the end of the century, and preferably 1.5 ° C – remains almost unbelievable. COP26 has managed to move into this unexplored territory, but much work remains to be done.
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