Some upsides to COP26 agreement, but experts say more is needed

Dust settled on the COP26 climate summit after two weeks of negotiations, events, talks and protests.

The UN conference began on October 31 and ended yesterday evening after negotiations took extra time.

All countries participating in the process agreed for a number of decisions as part of the Glasgow Climate Charter.

Countries agreed to return with updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) next year and included other terms considered relatively progressive, including explicit reference to fossil fuels.

However, activists and experts said the agreed plans are still insufficient to limit the effects of global warming.

Here are some key points about the COP26 result:

  • The package still leaves future global warming above the critical 1.5°C target based on current pledges.
  • In a last-minute change to the final agreement, China and India called for a change of wording around mention of coal. Instead of accelerating the «phasing out» of coal, the final text calls on countries to «reduce» coal use.
  • Despite this, this is the first time that coal and fossil fuels are mentioned in a COP deal.
  • Six years later, consensus has been reached on the details of carbon markets and transparency which means the Paris Agreement can now be fully implemented.
  • Developed countries are called to at least «double» their financing by 2025 to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
  • Several agreements were reached in the first week on methane, deforestation, phasing out coal in South Africa and ending fossil fuel financing abroad.
  • Countries agreed on the science – the debate is no longer about whether climate change is real but what to do about it.
  • The $100 billion fiscal target that developed countries long promised to developing countries has not been met.

Professor John Sweeney of the University of Maynooth’s Department of Geography said the text on fossil fuel and coal subsidies «doesn’t force anyone to do anything».

He said the final package had some positive «feelings» regarding adaptation funding and an indication of an increased focus on losses and damages in the future.

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«But really, I think the writing was on the wall when India and China were complaining about cutting coal,» Sweeney said. the magazine.

Among the various drafts, the fossil fuel subsidy formula has been watered down to the point that it is largely meaningless.

At the end of the day, it’s closer to Greta Thunberg blah, blah, blah than being a meaningful document in some ways.

People have gathered in Glasgow to demand financial compensation for people who have been severely affected by the effects of climate change.

Source: DPA / PA Images

He noted that India and China have some «legitimate arguments that their share of the remaining carbon budget should be recognized more than developed countries» due to historically low emissions.

«So it wasn’t an event, and while it would be successful, I think the truth is that it wouldn’t change the direction of global emissions significantly.»

COP26 President Alok Sharma said after the deal was agreed: “We can now credibly say we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But its pulse is weak and will only last if we keep our promises and translate commitments into quick action.”

Speaking to this week’s program on RTÉ radio, Environment Minister Eamonn Ryan described the change of wording around coal as «painful.»

“But what was really important in Glasgow, coming out of it, is that it actually took us six years, which is a very long time, and this is very slow, but it is actually laying the foundation for the Paris climate agreement,” Ryan said.

«It actually gives us real strong confidence that the entire economic system, the financial system, is going to have to shift to this zero-carbon direction.»

listen to science

Experts who attended many COP summits in the past noted that the crucial difference in this conference was that all countries were listening to the available science on climate change.

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Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Posted in August He showed that greenhouse gas emissions must be drastically reduced to avoid catastrophic levels of warming in the coming decades.

This was a very important report described as a «red symbol of humanity».

“The problem we face now is not climate denial anymore,” said Sathebeh O’Neill, associate professor in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University.

“It just didn’t make sense, I didn’t pick up on it anywhere in the conference. There was no point in arguing with anyone about whether climate change was real.

“The biggest problem we face is green washing. This is the denial of the new climate.”

Regarding the Glasgow deal, she said it was relatively predictable compared to previous COP summits.

“It has always been difficult to achieve the kind of major breakthrough that a lot of activists would like to see,” she said.

The complex structure of the Paris Agreement doesn’t really enable this kind of major breakthrough in the context of the agreement.

Moving forward requires consensus. Everyone must agree on everything, and the advantage of this is that everyone agrees with the outcome, whatever it may be.

“So even if the result is a little weak, you have to remember that this is something that Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, India and the United States have signed on to, and that is something that can never be ignored.

My instinct is that we need to rely on results. We need to take all the positives out there.

«Now, getting countries to do what they promised will always be the big challenge.»

Dr Diarmuid Trini, associate professor in the DCU School of Law and Government, said the agreement was «fairly robust as expected given the preferences of major players» such as China, India, the United States and the European Union.

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More broadly, it reflects the fact that governments around the world are not yet taking climate change seriously. The ambition of the comprehensive agreement is a reflection of where governments are the magazine.

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The reference to science through the texts, he said, is «really powerful» in specifically referring to the goal of cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 and putting the 1.5-degree temperature limit «in the center».

But despite some positive elements, Dr. Tourney added that he would «never argue with anyone who says it is not enough because, unequivocally, it is not enough.»

Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Watuti said the decisions reached at COP26 «protect business as usual, the interests of rich countries and the greed of the fossil fuel industry».

«It hurts to see delegates clapping and cheering an outcome that sacrifices the well-being and livelihoods of communities like mine,» she said on Twitter.

«The needs of the world’s most vulnerable people have been sacrificed on the altar of the rich world’s selfishness,» said Mohamed Addo, director of energy and climate at the PowerShift Africa think-tank.

«The outcome here mirrors the rich world’s conference of the parties and the outcome contains the rich world’s priorities.»

On the common criticism that COP summits are rhetoric without action, Sazebeh O’Neill said, «I don’t think we can afford to think that way.»

«I think we need to fight apathy and despair and adults have to kind of prove to young people that we are absolutely serious about implementing these cuts at home,» she said.

«The focus has been on the international process for the past two weeks, which is absolutely correct and correct, but the focus now has to be on the domestic level.»

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