GLASGOW — The international climate summit here has been billed as the “last, best hope” to save the planet. The United Nations conference is now in its second week. As negotiators of 197 countries get down to work to create a new agreement to address global warming, the attendees are divided on how much progress they have made.
There’s the optimistic view: Heads of state and titans of industry showed up in force last week with splashy new climate promises, a sign that momentum was building in the right direction.
“I believe what is happening here is far from business as usual,” said John Kerry, President Biden’s special envoy on climate change, who has been attending U.N. climate summits since 1992. “I have never counted as many initiatives and as much real money — real money — being put on the table.”
For example, 105 nations agreed to cut emissions of methaneThis decade, the planet-warming gas, has seen a 30% increase in its consumption. Other 130 countries vowed to halt deforestationThe effort will be completed by 2030, and billions of dollars will be committed to it. India for the first time joined the growing chorus of nations pledging to reach “net zero” emissions, setting a 2070 deadlineTo stop adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Then there’s the pessimistic view: All these gauzy promises mean little without concrete plans to follow through. And that’s still lacking. Or, Greta Thunberg (suede activist) put it, the conference has mostly consisted of “blah, blah, blah.”
Malik Amin Aslam, an adviser to the prime minister of Pakistan, scoffed at some of the distant net zero goals being announced, including India’s: “With an average age of 60, I don’t think anyone in the negotiating room would live to experience that net zero in 2070,” he said.
Critics noted that some of last week’s announcements turned out to be full of caveats. After signing the forest pledge, officials in Indonesia, home to the world’s third-largest rainforest, clarified that ending deforestation in their country by 2030 at the expense of economic development was “obviously inappropriate and unfair.” Another vow by more than 40 countries to phase out coal power featured vague timelinesIt left out major coal users like India, China, and the United States.
“The actual negotiations here are in danger of being drowned out by a blitz of news releases that get great headlines, but are often less than meets the eye,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a research institute based in Kenya. “There’s a lot of good talk and less real action.”
Mr. Adow stated that the summit should be evaluated on whether all 197 participants can reach a detailed, formal agreement that holds the governments accountable for their promises. It would be possible to reach consensus on important questions like how often countries should strengthen their short-term plans for reducing emissions, how much financial aid rich countries should provide to poorer countries in order to address the growing dangers of climate changes, and how to regulate them. booming global market in carbon offsets.
As they work to update and expand the landmark, negotiators continue to discuss key issues behind closed doors. 2015 Paris climate agreement. By tradition, a final agreement requires every single country to sign on — if any one of them objects, talks can deadlock.
The success of the Glasgow talks could depend on how these disputes are resolved by Friday’s summit.
“The reality is you’ve got two different truths going on,” said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics at the World Resources Institute. “We’ve made much more progress than we ever could’ve imagined a couple years ago. But it’s still nowhere near enough.”
When the conference opened last Monday, the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said Priority must be given to limiting global temperatures’ rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold, scientists have warnedThis is the limit at which the risk for calamities such as deadly heat waves and water shortages, and ecosystem collapse, increases tremendously. (The world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius.
The goal of Glasgow is unlikely to be achieved by any country. The big question is whether these lofty pledges, along with a formal agreement, will push them further.
Analysts at the United Nations tallied upAccording to all the formal plans submitted by countries to reduce their emissions over the next 10 years, the world was expected to heat up approximately 2.7 degrees Celsius more than preindustrial levels by 2100. That’s both an improvement over where things stood a decade ago and also far off-track.
The U.N. stated that global emissions from fossil fuels must be reduced by approximately half between 2010- 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Instead, the emissions are expected to increase over that time.
“Recent climate action announcements might give the impression that we are on track to turn things around,” Mr. Guterres said last week. “This is an illusion.”
However, the International Energy Agency will be open for business on Thursday offered a more hopeful picture. If you factor in some of the longer term, less-detailed promises that countries have made this week — including pledges to reach net zero emissions by most of the world’s biggest economies, as well as the global agreement to cut methane — then the world could potentially keep warming to as low as 1.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.
“I certainly never thought we’d get to next Friday confidently on track to 1.5 degrees, but if we can break the two-degree barrier, I think psychologically that will be huge and maybe give us more of a collective belief that we can go faster,” said Nigel Topping, chosen by the U.N. as its “high level climate action champion.”
Yet many environmentalists remained skeptical of the International Energy Agency’s projection.
“It’s assuming that countries like Australia and Saudi Arabia will get there by 2050, simply because they’ve said they will,” said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International. “When in reality they haven’t put in place the funding or policies to make this happen.”
This week’s topic is whether countries should return to the United Nations more often, maybe annually, with stronger short term pledges to reduce their emissions. At the moment, governments aren’t expected to submit new plans until 2025.
“That’s a bit too late for many countries to strengthen their pledges for this decade, since they’ll have built a lot of fossil-fuel infrastructure by then and will have locked in additional emissions,” said Jennifer Tollmann, an analyst for E3G, a climate research group.
Sabra Ibrahim Noordeen, the climate envoy to the Maldives is an archipelago made up of low-lying islands in India Ocean. It has been inhabited since thousands of years. could be inundated within three generations because of rising seas. She stated that countries like hers depended on the summit to make it right.
“Please get us to 1.5,” she said.
The money question is even more contentious. It has been a huge topic for a while. sticking pointParticipation in global climate negotiations
A decade ago, the world’s wealthiest nations pledged $100 billion per year by 2020 to help poorer countries transition to cleaner energy and protect themselves against the growing dangers from heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires as the planet heats up.
These promises have not been fulfilled so far. By one estimateThe wealthy countries continue to fall behind by tens and billions of dollar per year. And there are critics have saidEven this money has not been well targeted. A large portion of aid received to date has been in the form of loans, which are often difficult to repay by developing countries. Only a small amount of funding has been used to adapt to climate change.
As extreme weather risks increase, countries that are vulnerable say their financial needs have risen.
Sonam P. Wangdi, who heads a group of 47 nations called the Least Developed Countries, said that Bhutan’s home country is not responsible for global warming. The nation absorbs more carbon dioxide through its vast forests than it emits from cars and homes. With melting glaciers in Bhutan creating flash floods, and mudslides, Bhutan faces serious risks from rising temperatures. that have devastated villages.
“We have contributed the least to this problem yet we suffer disproportionately,” Mr. Wangdi said. “There must be increasing support for adapting to impacts.”
At the same time, vulnerable countries are arguing for a separate funding mechanism to help compensate them for disasters that they can’t adapt to, often referred to as “loss and damage.” But that proposal faces opposition from wealthier countries, which fear it could open the door to future compensation claims.
“So far the progress here is disappointing, and in a way frightening,” Mr. Wangdi said. “Our lives depend on decisions made here in Glasgow.”
Tens of thousands of protestors marched outside the conference center this weekend marched in lashing rains and bitter windsTo urge countries to take stronger measures to combat climate change.
Al Gore, the former Vice President of the United States, said in an interview that he sympathizes and sympathizes. “God bless them, it’s a needed element for this whole process,” Mr. Gore said. “That absolutely keeps the pressure on.”
But Mr. Gore added that the Glasgow summit was “already a success,” saying that “the direction of travel is toward net zero,” and that was encouraging.
Others argued that it was too simplistic to expect a single conference in order to stop global warming. The Paris agreement was intended to add transparency to countries’ climate plans and ratchet up pressure on world leaders to do more. But the real test is whether policymakers, businesses, and activists can make that vision a reality in their own countries.
“The day after Glasgow ends, there’s still going to be a lot of work to do,” said Kaveh Guilanpour, a vice president at the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions who has worked as a negotiator for various parties at past summits. “A new agreement could set the foundations for what comes next, but it’s up to all of us to maintain pressure after that. The problem is not going to be fixed in one go.”
“We may not really know how successful Glasgow was,” he added, “until a couple of years down the road.”