January 21, 2022 6:20 pm

COP26 closes with a “compromise” climate agreement, but insufficient, says António Guterres

After prolonging the negotiations at the Conference on Climate Change, COP26, for another day, the almost 200 countries meeting in Glasgow (Scotland) adopted on Saturday a final document that, according to General secretary de la ONU, reflects interests, contradictions and the state of political will in today’s world.

“It is an important step but it is not enough. We must accelerate climate action to keep alive the goal of limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees,” António Guterres said in a video statement published at the end of the meeting of two weeks.

The UN chief added that it is time to go into “emergency mode”, ending fossil fuel subsidies, eliminating carbon, putting a price on carbon, protecting vulnerable communities and meeting the commitment of 100,000 million. dollars of climate finance.

“We have not achieved these goals at this conference. But we have some elements to move forward,” he said.

Guterres also had a message for youth, indigenous communities, women leaders, and all those leading climate action.

I know you are disappointed. But the path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches. But I know we can do it. We are in the fight of our lives, and this fight must be won. There is never give up. Never back down. Keep pushing forward. “

A snapshot of the deal

The final document, as the results of these UN meetings are known, asks 197 countries to report on their progress towards greater climate ambition next year, at COP27, to be held in Egypt.

A last-minute amendment by China and India softened language that had previously circulated in a draft text on “phasing out unstabilized carbon energy and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” As adopted on Saturday, the text cites a “phasing out” of coal use.

The agreement also calls for stricter deadlines for governments to update their emission reduction plans.

On the thorny issue of financing from developed countries to support developing countries in adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change, the text underlines the need to mobilize climate finance “from all sources to achieve the level necessary to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including significantly increased support to developing countries, beyond $ 100 billion a year“.

The least bad result

During the last plenary balance session, many countries regretted that the agreed package of decisions was not enough. Some called it “disappointing”, but overall recognized that it was balanced for what countries could agree to at this time and given their differences.

Countries such as Nigeria, Palau, the Philippines, Chile, and Turkey stated that, although there are imperfections, they broadly support the text.

“It is an incremental step forward, but it is not in line with the necessary progress. It will be too late for the Maldives. This agreement brings no hope to our hearts“said the Maldives’ chief negotiator in a bittersweet speech.

US climate envoy John Kerry said the text “is a powerful statement” and assured delegates that his country will engage constructively in a dialogue on loss and damage and adaptation, two of the most difficult issues. to get countries to agree.

“The text represents the least bad result,” concluded New Zealand’s top negotiator.

UN News // Laura Quinones

A group armed with protest banners poses for photographers in the main corridor of the blue zone at the Climate Conference, COP26, in Glasgow.

Other key achievements of COP26

Beyond negotiations and political leaders, COP26 brought together some 50,000 participants online and in person to share innovative ideas, solutions to global warming, attend cultural events, and build partnerships and coalitions.

Many encouraging announcements were made during the conference. One of the most important was that the leaders of more than 120 countries, representing about 90% of the world’s forests, pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030.

There was also a commitment on methane, led by the United States and the European Union, whereby more than 100 countries agreed to reduce emissions of this greenhouse gas by 2030.

On the other hand, more than 40 countries – including large coal consumers such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile – agreed to abandon coal, one of the largest generators of CO2 emissions.

The private sector also showed strong commitment to nearly 500 global financial services companies that agreed to align $ 130 trillion – about 40% of the world’s financial assets – with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting warming. global to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Also, something that took many by surprise, The United States and China pledged to boost climate cooperation over the next decade. In a joint statement, they said they had agreed to take action on a number of issues, including methane emissions, the transition to clean energy and decarbonization. They also reiterated their commitment to stick with the 1.5 degree target.

Regarding green transport, more than 100 national governments, cities, states and large companies signed the Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars and Vans to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in the world’s major markets in 2040. At least 13 countries also pledged to end the sale of heavy duty vehicles powered by fossil fuels by 2040.

In the last two weeks, there have been many “smaller” but equally inspiring commitments, such as the 11 countries that have created the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA). Ireland, France, Denmark and Costa Rica, among others, as well as some sub-national governments, launched this alliance, the first of its kind, to set a completion date for national oil and gas exploration and extraction.

COP26 attendees hang promises and petitions to world leaders in the form of different colored sheets at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

UNFCCC/Kiara Worth

COP26 attendees hang promises and petitions to world leaders in the form of different colored sheets at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

A quick review of how we got here

In 1992, the UN organized a large event in Rio de Janeiro called the Earth Summit, in which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted.

In this treaty, nations agreed to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” to avoid dangerous interference from human activity in the climate system. Currently, the treaty has 197 signatories.

Since 1994, the year the treaty came into force, the UN brings together almost all the countries of the planet every year in a Conference on Climate Change or “COP”, which means “Conference of the Parties”.

This year should have been the 27th annual summit, but due to COVID-19, the Conference had to be delayed a year due to last year’s postponement, hence COP26.


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