The results of the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), as formulated in the Glasgow Climate Pact, is disappointing. The pact is insufficient to halt the present rate of global warming.
LUKI AULIA/AHMAD ARIF/KRIS MADA
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GLASGOW, SUNDAY — After two weeks of negotiations at the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, 196 countries agreed to the Glasgow Climate Pact on Saturday evening (13/11/2021) local time, or early Sunday morning Western Indonesia Time. Their commitments offered hope for an accelerated end to fossil fuel subsidies and reduction of coal. However, it has been deemed inadequate to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
One important point of the Glasgow Climate Pact is the acknowledgement that the commitments countries have made so far to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been insufficient to prevent the planet from warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial temperatures. For this reason, all countries are obliged to beef up their targets by the climate meeting at the end of next year in Egypt, rather than every five years as previously.
Besides, pressure has been growing since COP26 on developed countries to demonstrate their contributions to mitigating the causes and impacts of climate change. Without their contributions, small countries feel they are being victimized for the sake of the greater interests of the world population. This pressure is contained in the Glasgow Climate Pact.
COP26 president Alok Sharma said in his closing speech: “Today, we can say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees within reach. But its pulse is weak. And it will only survive if we keep our promises.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that more urgent work was needed. “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode, or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero,” he said.
When countries return for negotiations next year to begin an annual process of revising national emissions targets, the process will be demanding. Several countries maintain that they have done their best.
Haggling over coal
The most intense disagreement in the last hours of COP26 talks concerned the wording “phase out” of coal in paragraph 36. India intervened as regards the wording, which was finally amended to “phase down”.
US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry said India’s request was fulfilled in order to reach an agreement at COP26. Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav described New Delhi’s request as compatible with the needs of developing countries.
Nonetheless, COP26 mandates all countries to evaluate and increase their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on emissions cuts. The new emission reduction plans to limit emissions by 2030, to be proposed next year, must be in line with 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. Indonesia is among the many countries whose present emissions targets are deemed as inadequate and need ramping up.
COP26 also noted concern over the lack of financing for developing countries to adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change. This appears on pages 2 and 5 of the Glasgow Climate Pact. COP participants noted with deep regret that developed countries had not fulfilled their pledge to provide US$100 billion in annual funds from 2016 to 2020.
As outlined on page 5 of the pact, COP26 negotiators urged developed countries to immediately clarify their commitments to adaptation financing, with their budget to be available before 2025. Developed countries were pressed to be transparent in keeping their promise.
Assistance through the provision of mitigation funds is one of the demands of developing and poor countries. This because developed countries are prosperous today as a result of centuries of emitting trillions of tons of greenhouse gases through various industrials activities.
Also on page 5 of the pact, developed countries are obliged to share their technology and knowledge with developing countries for purposes of climate mitigation. Technology and knowledge sharing is expected to be voluntary and pose no burden on developing countries, because many developing and poor countries are now under the pressure of debts and other impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the formulators of the initial draft of the Paris Agreement, Laurence Tubiana, said COP26 failed to protect the people who were suffering and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. “Their losses and damage should be the priority of the next conference,” he said.
Among the failures of COP26 was the rejection of the US and several other global car-producing countries like Germany, China and Japan to sign the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars.
Another failure was revealed in the “Fossil Fueled 5” report, compiled by University of Sussex researcher Freddie Daley along with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, highlighted Britain, the US, Norway, Canada and Australia. Daley and peers found that these five countries had disbursed $150 billion on fossil energy projects during recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, the US and six other G7 countries only invested $147 billion in renewable energy projects during the recovery phase.
Looking to 2022
Climate expert Edvin Aldrian from the National Research and Innovation Agency, who is concurrently deputy chair of Working Group I at the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), said the new edition of the climate agreement was not solid enough to prevent major disasters that would occur due to continued global warming. The IPCC warned that the commitments of the world’s countries to reduce emissions today only constituted one-third of what was needed to halt global temperatures from rising no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“The Paris Agreement was indeed already ambitious, but it remains unclear how it will proceed,” said Aldrian, referring to the 2015 climate accords. “This was actually what was expected from COP26, but it failed to be achieved and has to wait until next year.”
The Paris Agreement was indeed already ambitious, but it remains unclear how it will proceed.
Climate researcher Siswanto from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) also expressed pessimism about halting the rate of global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees compared to 1850. “The latest report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) shows that the global temperature in 2020 rose 1.2 degrees Celsius. There was a 0.1 degree increase over the previous year,” he said.
Siswanto added that the La Niña phenomenon in 2020-2021, which should have been in a cooling phase, had failed to counter the pace of global warming. The same was true of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had slightly reduced emissions but failed to halt the global temperature rise. (AFP/REUTERS)