L.APPEALS IN MINUTES often occur in the weeks preceding CS, UNannual climate summit. Green groups are urging world leaders to promise bold action. Poor countries are asking for money from the rich. Ahead of this year’s event, which starts in Glasgow on October 31, a group representing indigenous peoples is asking to donate jackets, underwear and waterproofs. It notes that the indigenous people of the Amazon, who plan to take part, “did not experience a climate similar to the Scottish winter.”
This year’s summit CS26-26th Conference of the Parties UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. These are the most important climate talks since 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed. This is largely due to what the countries have promised to do so far. It is expected that all countries have announced new tight targets for reducing emissions. Rich countries are supposed to help the poor fund green schemes. On both fronts, the world is short. The process in Glasgow can be really cold.
The Paris Agreement was accepted by the vast majority of countries. They promised to try to keep the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s surface at a level “well below” 2 ° C compared to pre-industrial levels, and ideally – no more than 1.5 ° C. In terms of the detrimental effects of global warming, the gap between the two goals is large. But since the invention of the steam engine, the temperature has risen by 1.1-1.3 ° C. So limiting the heating to 1.5 ° C is a colossal task. To have a good chance of achieving this, the world needs to make net carbon emissions 45% lower in 2030 than they were in 2010, and reduce them to zero by the middle of this century.
The Paris Agreement did not require such cuts – and could not do so. Instead, countries have committed to implementing emission reduction strategies known as nationally defined contributions (NDCc). The NDCbrought to the table in Paris did not meet the lofty aims of the agreement. They brought to 2100 the world 3 ° C higher than the pre-industrial baseline. But the agreement required that every five years all parties improve their game with new, more ambitious NDCs. The conference in Glasgow (which takes place a year later than planned, due to Covid-19) is the deadline for the first round of reinforced promises.
Governments began announcing new promises last year. Rich countries were more ambitious than poor ones. European Union (EU) promises that by the end of the decade it will reduce emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels. Earlier, he promised only a 40% reduction. America says it will cut emissions by 50-52% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. Previously, it was proposed to reduce by 2025 only 26-28%. These two parties account for 23% of global carbon emissions.
Lots of hot air
Australia is an outsider among rich countries. Its original NDC was not particularly ambitious. And not new. Meanwhile, many emerging economies have set vague goals. Russia and Indonesia do not promise any new efforts. Using creative carbon accounting, Mexico and Brazil have developed new strategies less ambitious than their original plans.
India, which is responsible for 7% of carbon emissions, has not yet released a new climate strategy. It also does not have China, which accounts for 28%. Last year, she said she plans to reach peak emissions “before” 2030, having previously stated only that she would reach that milestone “approximately” by this time. Many would like this date to be postponed, but Lee Shu of Greenpeace believes it is unlikely to happen any time soon. He says there is a better chance that China can bolster its promise by announcing an absolute figure above which its annual emissions will not increase.
Taken together, the new goals are not happy. According to the International Energy Agency, the promises made by the middle of this year give a 50% chance to keep warming below 2.1 ° C, but only 5% – to keep it below 1.5 ° C (IEA), weather forecaster (see chart). And this implies that all promises have been fulfilled, which is far from guaranteed.
At the tail end of these vague statements is a failure to fund developing countries. In 2009, rich countries pledged that by 2020 they would allocate $ 100 billion to the poor for climate finance each year. Approximately equal amounts had to go to adapting and reducing emissions. The figure is a fraction of the $ 2 trillion annual investment IEA believes that developing countries need. But the promise must show the willingness of richer countries to sacrifice for the benefit of the planet.
According to data, in 2019, only $ 80 billion was provided OECD, a club of rich countries. This year at the last minute, perhaps the total could exceed $ 100 billion before the conference. But poor countries are annoyed. The initial deadline was 2020 – when due to the pandemic the total amount was probably less than in 2019. And only about 25% of the money goes to funding ways to adapt to climate change, not the promised 50%.
All these disappointments will cause a hall of arms at the summit. Rich countries can once again emphasize their willingness to lend. They can offer a cumulative figure over several years, for example, $ 500 billion between 2020 and 2025. NDC. Their development takes months of work and coordination between government agencies.
Instead, progress in Glasgow is likely to come from agreements concluded in a narrower debate, the results of which will help countries implement their existing climate strategies and increase their ambitions in the future. One challenge is to harmonize rules for international carbon markets, for example, which means double-counting when it comes to carbon credits.
The second discussion is about “loss and damage”, which means how much the countries most affected by climate change should receive compensation. The topic is taboo among rich countries. In Paris, they eventually allowed this concept to be mentioned in the agreement, but resisted languages that could actually lead to something being done. Poor countries hope to put it on the agenda and lay the groundwork for more concrete discussions in the future.
Third, efforts to persuade governments to live up to sector-level promises, such as stopping coal burning, banning the sale of internal combustion engines and stopping deforestation. Global Methane Pledge, a promising new pact, calls for a reduction in global methane emissions of at least 30% compared to 2020 by 2030. It is supported by America and EU. Measured in 20 years, a tonne of methane causes warming 86 times more than a tonne of carbon dioxide, but gas is naturally removed from the atmosphere much faster than CO.2. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, made up of governments and lobby groups, argues that halving man-made methane emissions by 2050 could reduce temperatures by about 0.2 ° C.
The fourth topic is what Helen Mountford of the Institute of World Resources, a think tank, calls “keeping 1.5 ° C alive.” Green groups and some governments want countries to recognize that the world is failing to slow global warming, and have made it clear that they want to keep growth below 1.5 ° C. China and India have refused to support such a statement Mr.20th summit in July. They believe that if the temperature is revised, the same should happen in order to finance the climate.
The global shortage of energy provides an unfortunate background for debate. In Asia, coal shortages are forcing plants to hold back production. European gas and electricity prices have gone wild. Governments are watching as Joe Biden tries to get through Congress legislation that contains support for clean energy firms. The disputes are a reminder of the difficulties that democracies face when they seek to carry out major climate reforms.
Covid-19 has increased the costs and risks of attracting negotiators to the summit. In particular, poor countries can send less than usual. Even in ordinary times they are at a disadvantage in affluent places that can send hordes of technocrats. The fact that many rich countries seem to have survived the worst pandemic, and the poor are still struggling with it, only further irritates such inequality.
All this could deepen the usual factionalism. Delegations present at CS usually form three blocks. Poor countries are asking the rich for more ambition and money. Rich countries are trying to persuade developing countries, which account for the lion’s share of emissions growth, to pollute less. And developing countries are trying to tell rich countries that they are in fact part of poor and vulnerable groups, while reminding rich countries that they have reached the place where they are today, polluting the environment.
However, there are some signs that these old alliances are weakening. Emerging economies have fewer excuses for inaction than when Donald Trump was in the White House, says Lawrence Tubian of the European Climate Fund, a lobby group (Mr. Trump withdrew America from the Paris Agreement; it rejoined in February) . Some, such as South Africa, are becoming more ambitious. In September, China said it would no longer fund new coal-fired power plants outside its borders. Natural disasters in rich countries, such as floods in Germany, which have killed nearly 200 people, could bring a new sense of urgency.
Any progress made in CS26 is likely to be a cumulative rather than a “big leap” like what John Kerry, America’s climate envoy, promised. This will lead to the anger of grassroots activists. And that hardly fits the scale of the challenge. Two years from now, the Global Review, scheduled under the Paris Agreement, will examine how well governments are implementing their climate plans. If their latest climate promises are some indication, then an inventory can reveal a fairly bare closet.■