COP26 Concludes with Watered-Down Joint Agreement

The nearly 200 countries that signed the Glasgow Climate Pact agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and phase down coal. Critics say not enough was accomplished.

Photo: COP26
Nov. 16, 2021
By Paolo DeAndreis
Photo: COP26

Recent News

COP26, the inter­na­tional sum­mit on cli­mate change ended with the Glasgow Climate Pact, an agree­ment signed by almost 200 coun­tries.

If the world is going to beat back the cli­mate cri­sis, no one can sit on the side­lines.- Ani Dasgupta, pres­i­dent, World Resources Institute

The key point of the final text is that all coun­tries will work to bring down their own green­house gas emis­sions. They also will rein­force their pre­vi­ously announced plans to achieve sig­nif­i­cant reduc­tions by 2030.

One of the biggest issues on the table, the des­tiny of coal, was not fully resolved. In the first drafts of the agree­ment, the text asked coun­tries to phase out coal.

See Also:World Leaders Pledge Billions to Restore Earth’s Forests

However, sig­nif­i­cant pres­sure from Australia, China, India and other coun­tries where coal remains a major eco­nomic resource led phase out” to be replaced with phase down” in the final text. Although, all the coun­tries agreed to reduce their reliance on coal.

They also agreed to speed up the end of the fos­sil fuel sub­si­dies which were described as one of the major hur­dles fac­ing the devel­op­ment of renew­able ener­gies.

According to the pact, national plans to cur­tail the most rel­e­vant con­tri­bu­tions to global warm­ing will be reviewed every year instead of the pre­vi­ously-agreed inter­val of every five years.

The annual review of the national plans to act on cli­mate change means that the sign­ing coun­tries have not yet given up on keep­ing global tem­per­a­tures below 1.5 ºC above pre-indus­trial lev­els.

Agreeing to cap ris­ing global tem­per­a­tures at 1.5 ºC was one of the key ten­ants of the Paris Agreement and is con­sid­ered by sci­en­tists as the thresh­old above which the worst con­se­quences of cli­mate change would become irre­versible.

However, that tar­get is cur­rently not being met by the national cli­mate plans that were pre­sented and dis­cussed at the global sum­mit.

According to most obser­va­to­ries, cur­rent actions meant to slow down global warm­ing are pro­jected to see tem­per­a­tures rise by 2.4 °C by the cen­tury, which is less than the 2.7 °C fore­casted before COP26, but still greatly exceeds the Paris Agreement tar­get.

The new plans that will be pre­sented in the com­ing year will also have to focus on reduc­ing emis­sions in line with the 1.5 °C tar­get.

That means those gov­ern­ments who fall short will have to jus­tify why to their cit­i­zens,” the New Scientist observed. Australia, Brazil and Indonesia are among many coun­tries whose exist­ing plans are inad­e­quate and will need to be strength­ened.”

The final text of the Glasgow Climate Pact also urges devel­oped coun­tries and his­toric pol­luters to come good on their pre­vi­ous pledge to pro­vide $100 bil­lion (€87 bil­lion) per annum to devel­op­ing coun­tries.

The funds, which have not yet been pro­vided by the wealth­ier coun­tries, would be used to help develop envi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able economies and help coun­tries that are most strongly affected by the con­se­quences of cli­mate change to adapt.


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke at COP26

Despite its crit­ics and short­com­ing, COP26 President Alok Sharma hailed the pact as a his­toric achieve­ment.”

We kept the 1.5 °C tar­get within reach. We closed off the Paris Agreement, which for six years had eluded the world,” he told the BBC. We’ve ensured more money for cli­mate-vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries. I think we can say we are on the way to con­sign­ing coal to his­tory.”

The train is mov­ing and all coun­tries need to get on board,” added Ani Dasgupta, pres­i­dent of the World Resources Institute. If the world is going to beat back the cli­mate cri­sis, no one can sit on the side­lines.”

See Also:Climate Change Coverage

Many oth­ers among the COP26 par­ties also reacted pos­i­tively to the news of the agree­ment.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wel­comed the pact as a big step for­ward,” while Switzerland expressed pro­found dis­ap­point­ment” in rela­tion to the lim­ited com­mit­ment on coal.

Shauna Aminath, envi­ron­ment min­is­ter of the Maldives, an arch­i­pel­ago in the Indian Ocean, expressed con­cerns sim­i­lar to those of many island nations that are cur­rently threat­ened by ris­ing sea lev­els.

The pact is not in line with the urgency and scale required,” she said. What looks bal­anced and prag­matic to other par­ties will not help the Maldives adapt in time. It will be too late for the Maldives.”

Her coun­ter­part in Madagascar, Vahinala Raharinirina, added that devel­op­ing coun­tries played the game in order to not stop the process. But let’s say there is a dis­ap­point­ment because of this ques­tion of cli­mate finance to help us to adapt. Let’s say, it was for­got­ten.”

However, the pact was wel­comed by the European Commission, which said the global com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to move in the right direc­tion but added there was still plenty of hard work ahead.

We have made progress on the three objec­tives we set at the start of COP26,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. First, to get com­mit­ments to cut emis­sions to keep within reach of the global warm­ing limit of 1.5 ºC. Second, to reach the tar­get of $100 bil­lion per year of cli­mate finance to devel­op­ing and vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries.”

And third, to get agree­ment on the Paris rule­book,” she added. This gives us con­fi­dence that we can pro­vide a safe and pros­per­ous space for human­ity on this planet. But there will be no time to relax: there is still hard work ahead.”

According to the United Nations’ exec­u­tive sec­re­tary Patricia Espinosa, the pact is a very com­plete pack­age of deci­sions,” which could keep the world on track with the Paris Agreement tar­gets.

Still, she warned that this decade is absolutely cru­cial. We need to get to 2030 with at least 45 per­cent reduc­tions.”


Related Articles

Feedback / Suggestions