The Glasgow Climate Pact - A Step Forward in the Fight Against Climate Change- COP 26 - Seeker's Thoughts

Recent Posts

Seeker's Thoughts

A blog for the curious and the creative.

The Glasgow Climate Pact - A Step Forward in the Fight Against Climate Change- COP 26

At the Conference of Parties 26 in Glasgow, world leaders took swift and decisive action, along with making several key decisions. It was signed on 
13 November 2021. 

The global leaders came to an agreement on setting targets that aim well below 2C, increasing adaptation financing and reconsidering carbon markets.

The Glasgow Climate Pact includes language that could help mitigate coal's impacts, end fossil fuel subsidies and protect forests.

A new commitment to net zero emissions by 2050

At this early stage, it's difficult to ascertain if the Glasgow Climate Pact - announced at the conclusion of UN climate talks in Scotland on Saturday - will prove successful or not, but one thing is clear - this document represents just the first step on a long path toward combatting climate change.

At the core of the document lies an ambitious pledge to reduce net carbon dioxide emissions from all sources - including fossil fuels - to zero by 2050. That would represent a massive reduction, cutting fossil fuel use from four-fifths to one-fifth and shifting towards renewables and other low-carbon technologies.

The Paris Climate Pact includes an unprecedented commitment to cutting non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions such as methane and nitrous oxide emissions while protecting, conserving and restoring "nature-based solutions." Additionally, the agreement to halt unabated coal use and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies was an outstanding feat that came backed with increased funding for adaptation initiatives in developing nations.

Faced with rising temperatures, the Paris Agreement calls on nations to strengthen national development plans (NDCs) every five years in order to increase ambition. At COP26 this test was put to the forefront as its "ratchet" mechanism provided a means to speed up action; most nations introduced more ambitious targets and policies while some were slower to act, leaving collective collective action lagging significantly behind for limiting global warming to 1.5C.

But the Paris Climate Pact requires countries to submit revised Nationally Determined Contributions by 2022 and align these with Paris climate goals, while taking into account individual national circumstances. Furthermore, it encourages them to disclose these contributions on an ongoing basis, which would foster transparency and help raise ambition levels.

The Pact also reiterates the necessity of allocating $100 billion annually by 2025 - double previous levels - to assist developing nations cope with climate change impacts and move beyond fossil fuel ages. While this commitment should be welcomed, rich nations have not always met their obligations consistently and numerous developing nations still require significant assistance.

A new goal of doubling climate finance by 2025

Glasgow's Pact represents only a modest advance. Its most important contribution lies in keeping 1.5degC alive; this goal may only survive if countries move faster to reduce emissions, and wealthy nations provide support through an indemnity fund to compensate for climate impacts from actions they take.

The commitment to double climate finance by 2025 is significant as it sets an explicit goal and calls on wealthy nations to provide concrete plans on how they plan to reach it in the coming years. While UK hosting and President of COP26 have made strides toward this end goal, more commitments from rich countries need to be seen before any real progress can be seen being made towards meeting it.

There has been renewed attention on the need to increase support for climate vulnerable nations - those that will be hit hardest by rising sea levels, desertification and other climate threats - by creating a dedicated "loss and damage" funding facility. However, this remains controversial because compensation from rich countries for their own historical climate pollution might result in compensation funds; opponents claim such a fund will waste valuable time that could otherwise be spent developing effective mitigation strategies.

At COP26, an agreement was reached to provide enhanced technical assistance to these countries; however, an international loss and damage fund may take years or never come into existence at all. Fiji, Antigua & Barbuda and Marshall Islands all fear losing land due to rising sea levels; low-lying island states were dissatisfied that no progress had been made on creating one at this conference.

At Paris, it was decided to call upon all countries to review their 2030 targets within five years - five years post-Paris - and bring them in line with the climate target of 1.5degC. All major emitters will be required to evaluate how their goals could be strengthened by setting more aggressive methane and coal-related goals for 2030.

A new agreement on phasing out coal

Though disappointed that the agreement did not set us on track to halve emissions by 2030, significant progress is made through this deal. Notable among these is its commitment to phase out coal, one of the most polluting fossil fuels, in favor of renewable energy sources like solar or wind power - along with language encouraging nations to accelerate efforts to "phase down" unabated coal use by increasing efforts at "phasing down," while still permitting its use when coupled with carbon capture and storage technology. Furthermore, nations are encouraged to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies - another significant step forward

This step marks a small but crucial achievement that underscores the criticality of ending this century's dependence on fossil fuels - especially given climate change - while signalling how rapidly our world is shifting away from coal use, even as funds remain tight to make this happen.

The new deal makes headway on poor and vulnerable countries' demand that wealthy countries accept responsibility for climate change's impacts, by calling on all nations to submit climate protection plans by 2025 and encourages their periodic review and update. Furthermore, it creates specific regulations for reporting greenhouse gas emission reductions making reporting transparent and comparable.

One final important achievement was reached during Glasgow, when an agreement was reached to create a framework for dealing with loss and damage caused by climate change. This issue has dominated climate talks since 2010, when rich countries led by the US and Australia blocked progress here; but progress was achieved at Glasgow when an agreement was made to establish an access channel for climate finance that will aid developing nations cope with its effects.

After two weeks of intensive and exhausting negotiations, the final agreement reached is an improvement but far from ideal. While it will keep alive the 1.5degC goal, an even more ambitious target will only become feasible through increased emission cuts by nations themselves - thus the importance of calling for climate plans to be submitted next year as opposed to five years from now.

A new commitment to protecting forests

The Glasgow Pact marks a key step forward in our fight against climate change. It provides a more precise roadmap of what must happen to reach Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as well as outlining industries and sectors requiring changes for just transition.

This includes calling on forest owners and managers to protect these vital carbon sinks, which help absorb about one-third of annual global CO2 emissions. But forests continue to be cut down, especially in Brazil's Amazon under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's far-right government; such actions harm both trees as carbon sinks as well as monoculture crops or livestock that release greenhouse gasses into the environment.

A timely move, the Glasgow Pact calls on countries to update and strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of next year to reflect temperature targets set out in Paris Agreement. This mechanism has proven its value during previous COPs by holding political leaders accountable for climate actions or lack thereof; and renewing pressure on climate laggards such as Australia, US and Saudi Arabia to increase ambition.

It also calls for a doubling of finance to assist developing countries in adapting to climate change impacts and building resilience, though this won't provide all of the funding required. It will also ensure that climate finance doesn't act as an excuse for polluting nations or businesses to pollute by closing loopholes related to carbon offsetting.

A work program to establish a new global climate adaptation target has also been established, yet this does not address the loss and damage experienced by vulnerable groups, particularly in small island states. Climate Action Network UK's Catherine Pettengell accused the Scottish Presidency of overemphasizing mitigation, thus wasting precious time that could have been spent advocating for positive action against loss and damage.

No comments:

Post a Comment