Some call it successful, others fail, and many others are somewhere in the middle. Let’s see what it’s all about so you can make your own decision.
First ever mention of fossil fuels… with lots of caveats
Alok Sharma, President of COP26, was seen asking for opinions on the floor in the plenary to see if other people would support the change that would essentially save the article.
“It’s meek and weak, and the 1.5C goal only just lives, but it is a signal that the coal era is over. She said that this matters.
Sharma was asked about his handling of the last-minute change. He later apologised.
“This will not get us closer to 1.5 but it will make it more difficult for it to reach,” Simonetta Sommarug, Swiss Environment Minister, said after receiving a round of applause.
Bhupender Yadav (Indian Environment Minister) said that while poverty reduction efforts are underway, it would be difficult for India to stop coal use and subsidy for fossil fuels.
“How can anyone expect developing nations to make promises about phasing away coal and fossil fuel subsidies?” He asked.
“Subsidies provide much-needed social security support,” he stated, citing the example of India’s use of subsidies to provide liquified petroleum gas to low income households.
2022 – A year where the world can get its act together
Perhaps the most significant change was language that requested parties to come to Egypt’s COP27 next year with updated plans on how they would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Paris Agreement only required countries to update their goals by 2025.
The idea is to have countries increase their ambitions more frequently, which should result in an acceleration to net zero — a state when the amount of greenhouse gases emitted does not exceed the amount that is removed from the atmosphere.
The UN’s latest landmark climate science report was published in August. It calls for emissions to be roughly cut by 2030, and for the world net zero by mid-century if there is any hope of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Now, the question is, will countries actually do this?
“By agreeing on this emergency package they have responded climate damage rising with an action plan for keeping 1.5C within reach,” said Nick Mabey. He is co-founder of the E3G and executive director.
“But the real challenge begins now, as every country must return home and fulfill their Glasgow promises.”
Over ten years ago, rich nations agreed to transfer $100 million a year to developing countries in order to aid their transition to low carbon economies and adapt to the climate change. Adaptation can be as simple as building sea walls to prevent flooding or moving communities away from the coast to retrofit homes to better withstand extreme climate events.
The $100 billion that the rich world promised to deliver by 2020 was not met. However, the developing countries claim it is far below what they expected. They were calling for a 50-50 split of mitigation (measures to reduce emissions) and adaptation (measures that help them deal with the effects of climate change). More money has flowed towards measures to reduce emissions.
The Glasgow Climate Pact calls for a doubling of money to adapt by 2025. This is progress in this field. However, the $100 billion target is unlikely to be met by 2023 as a COP26 President’s report has shown. There are also questions about whether developed nations will continue to fund this level annually.
Ani Dasgupta is the president and CEO at the World Resources Institute.
“It is significant to note that the final outcome of COP26 places developed countries on the hook for reporting on their progress towards the $100 Billion goal. A number of countries made significant progress in developing a new financial target that goes beyond 2025. Nations also agreed to at minimum double the funding for adaptation by 2025. This is a significant step forward.
There is no ‘liability fund’ to pay for climate catastrophe destruction
This is a disappointing point for many countries that are climate-vulnerable and developing. There was high hope that a dedicated fund would soon be set up to help pay for the destruction and the damage caused by climate crisis to the hardest-hit nations.
It was envisioned that rich countries would contribute to it. If a country is affected by an event such as floods that cause damage to their homes, the money could be used to rebuild. This is known as “loss or damage” in climate terminology.
The agreement acknowledges the importance loss and damage and offers technical assistance to countries that are affected. Instead of agreeing to a fund dedicated for this purpose, the agreement calls for more dialogue. This means that an actual fund may be years away, if at all.
John Kerry, the US climate ambassador, confirmed that his country opposed such a fund. The European Union had previously stated it would not support it.
Rachel Cleetus is the policy Director and Lead economist in the Climate and Energy Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. She said that Australia was also preventing progress. CNN reached out the delegation.
Cleetus reported that the proposed Glasgow Loss and Damage Facility, which would have channeled additional funds to loss and damage, was blocked by richer nations like the United States and Australia.
“The final COP26 decision was overwhelmingly compromised by countries who have contributed the most to the climate crisis and denies justice for climate-vulnerable developing countries.”
It took six years, but the Paris rulebook was finally completed. It’s almost complete
If there is any indication of how slow consensus can progress, it was Saturday when the world agreed on the rules for the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Concerns were raised about the creation of carbon emission market, also known as Article 6, which is so technical that the entire world couldn’t agree on its substance and wording over the past five years. Concerns were raised about a loophole that could allow some countries to double-count their carbon credits. This would be a disaster as the world would soon lose track on how much greenhouse gas is being removed or offset and sold on the markets.
One way to offset greenhouse gasses is to pay countries with high forest cover to not log their forests or to plant more. Trees can absorb large amounts of carbon, and lock it away. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by burning them or cutting them down. A country could also pay another country to build a windfarm, for example, in place of an oil or coal plant.
It’s good to know that the rules were finally agreed upon and that some loopholes were closed. However, experts warn against too much offset, saying that it is only an incentive for countries and businesses to continue emitting as usual. This is especially true for rich nations and large business that can afford large offsets. Concerns are also raised about the implications of the system on Indigenous peoples, who are concerned about the commodification and destruction of their lands. The UN states that while Indigenous people account for less than 5%, they protect 80% global forest biodiversity.
Although it was adopted, there are still some details that were not agreed upon.
“We are very pleased that the countries taking part in COP26 have agreed how global carbon trading can be used to accelerate climate action. The progress made at Glasgow is a significant step towards keeping global average temperatures below 1.5C,” James Roth, Conservation International senior vice president for international policy and government affairs, said.
Roth stated, “After six years’ worth of negotiations, the rules that allow countries to trade carbon credit with each other, known under Article 6.2, were agreed with the exceptions of some operational elements.”
“This level of certainty will encourage new investments to scale climate actions that we desperately need across all sector sectors, including halting deforestation or promoting other natural climate solutions.”