London: The COP26 United Nations Climate Talks in Glasgow has ended and all 197 countries have agreed to the Glasgow Climate Pact. If the 2015 ‘Paris Agreement’ provided the framework for countries to tackle climate change, the Glasgow Conference six years later was the first major test for this important topic of global diplomacy.
What have we learned from the last signed Glasgow climate agreement with two weeks of leaders’ statements, massive protests over coal and unilateral agreements, funding for fossil fuels, and halting deforestation?
From phasing out dependence on coal to the loopholes in the carbon market, here are some key things we need to know:
Progress has been made on emissions reductions, but the Glasgow Climate Treaty is only modest progress and not the moment of success needed to halt the worst effects of climate change.
As host and president of COP26, Britain wanted to live up to the Paris Agreement’s strong goal of “limiting global warming to 1.5 °C”, but all we can say is to limit global warming to 1.5 °C. The target is as if on a ‘life support system’, it has a beat but it is almost dead.
The Paris climate agreement set a target of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C, but the pace at which emissions were increasing prior to COP26 was projected to reach 2.7 °C. But it has been projected to drop to 2.4 degrees Celsius this decade following COP26 announcements, including new commitments to cut emissions by some major countries.
Most countries have also announced long-term net zero emissions targets. One of the most important was India’s commitment to reach the target of net zero emissions by 2070. Fast-growing Nigeria has also promised net zero emissions by 2060. Countries, which account for 90 percent of the world’s GDP, have now pledged to reach the goal of net-zero emissions by the middle of this century.
Glasgow important meeting five years after Paris
The road to further reductions is open in the near future. The final draft of the Glasgow Treaty says that current national climate plans (NDCs) are far from what is needed to limit temperatures to 1.5 °C. New climate plans are required under the Paris Agreement every five years, which is why the Glasgow meeting was important five years after Paris (with delays due to COVID-19).
Rich countries shy away from their responsibility
Rich countries kept ignoring their responsibility. Developing countries have been demanding money for “damages and compensation”, such as increased costs due to the effects of cyclones and sea-level rise. Small island states and environmentally sensitive countries say that emissions from these major polluter countries have created such environmental conditions and hence the need for funding. Developed countries led by the US and the European Union have denied any liability for the loss and damage.
Flaws in carbon market regulations could undermine progress towards saving the environment. After a lengthy debate on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on market and non-market approaches to carbon trading, a consensus was finally reached. Thanks to climate activists for the progress – their next course of action will be decisive.