December 3, 2021
UN climate agreement clinched after late drama over coal use

UN climate agreement clinched after late drama over coal use

GLASGOW — United Nations (U.N.) climate talks ended Saturday with a deal that for the primary time focused fossil fuels as the important thing driver of worldwide warming, whilst coal-reliant international locations lobbed last-minute objections.

Whereas the agreement gained applause for holding alive the hope of capping world warming at 1.5 levels Celsius, lots of the almost 200 nationwide delegations wished they’d come away with extra.

“If it’s a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable,” US climate envoy John Kerry mentioned within the last assembly to approve the Glasgow Climate Pact. “And this has been, I think, a good negotiation.”

The 2-week convention in Scotland delivered a serious win in resolving the foundations round carbon markets, nevertheless it did little to assuage weak international locations’ considerations about long-promised climate financing from wealthy nations.

The British COP26 president, Alok Sharma, was visibly emotional earlier than banging down his gavel to sign there have been no vetoes to the pact, after the talks had prolonged extra time — and in a single day — into Saturday.

There was last-minute drama as India, backed by China and different coal-dependent growing nations, rejected a clause calling for the “phase out” of coal-fired energy. After a huddle between the envoys from China, India, the US and European Union, the clause was hurriedly amended to ask international locations to “phase down” their coal use.

India’s atmosphere and climate minister, Bhupender Yadav, mentioned the revision mirrored the “national circumstances of emerging economies.”

“We are becoming the voice of the developing countries,” he advised Reuters, saying the pact had “singled out” coal however saved quiet about oil and pure fuel.

“We made our effort to make a consensus that is reasonable for developing countries and reasonable for climate justice,” he mentioned, alluding to the truth that wealthy nations traditionally have emitted the biggest share of greenhouse gases.

The one-word change was met with dismay by each wealthy international locations in Europe and small island nations together with others nonetheless growing.

“We believe we have been side-lined in a non-transparent and non-inclusive process,” Mexico’s envoy Camila Isabel Zepeda Lizama mentioned. “We all have remaining concerns but were told we could not reopen the text … while others can still ask to water down their promises.”

However Mexico and others mentioned they’d let the revised agreement stand.

“The approved texts are a compromise,” mentioned U.N. Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres. “They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today.”

Reaching a deal was at all times a matter of balancing the calls for of climate-vulnerable nations, massive industrial powers, and people like India and China relying on fossil fuels to elevate their economies and populations out of poverty.

Mr. Sharma’s voice broke with emotion in response to weak nations’ expressing anger over the last-minute adjustments.

“I apologize for the way this process has unfolded,” he advised the meeting. “I am deeply sorry.”

The overarching purpose he had set for the convention was one which climate campaigners and weak international locations mentioned was too modest — to “keep alive” the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal to maintain world temperatures from rising past 1.5°C above pre-industrial ranges. Scientists say warming past this level may unleash irreversible and uncontrollable climate impacts.

In asking nations to set more durable targets by subsequent yr for chopping climate-warming emissions, the agreement successfully acknowledged that commitments have been nonetheless insufficient. Nationwide pledges at the moment have the world on observe for about 2.4°C.

The talks additionally led to a breakthrough in resolving guidelines for masking government-led markets for carbon offsets. Firms and international locations with huge forest cowl had pushed arduous for a deal, in hopes additionally of legitimizing the fast-growing world voluntary offset markets.

The deal permits international locations to partially meet their climate targets by shopping for offset credit representing emission cuts by others, probably unlocks trillions of {dollars} for shielding forests, increasing renewable power and different tasks to fight climate change.

Jennifer Morgan, govt director of the marketing campaign group Greenpeace, noticed the glass as half-full.

“They changed a word but they can’t change the signal coming out of this COP, that the era of coal is ending,” she mentioned. “If you’re a coal company executive, this COP saw a bad outcome.”

Growing international locations argue wealthy nations, whose historic emissions are largely accountable for warming the planet, should finance their efforts each to transition away from fossil fuels and to adapt to more and more extreme climate impacts.

The deal supplied a promise to double adaptation finance by 2025 from 2019, however once more no ensures. A U.N. committee will report subsequent yr on progress in direction of delivering the $100 billion per yr in promised climate funding, after wealthy nations did not ship on a 2020 deadline for the funds. Finance will then be mentioned once more 2024 and 2026.

However the deal left many weak nations despondent in providing no funding for climate-linked losses and damages, a promise made within the authentic pact referred to as the U.N. Framework Conference on Climate Change in 1992.

Wealthy nations as soon as once more resisted acknowledging monetary legal responsibility for his or her years of emissions that drove climate change as they rose to financial prosperity.

Whereas Glasgow agreement laid out a pathway for addressing the problem by establishing a brand new secretariat devoted to the problem, weak international locations mentioned that represented a naked minimal of acceptability.

“This package is not perfect. The coal change and a weak outcome on loss and damage are blows,” mentioned Tina Stee, climate envoy from the Marshall Islands. Nonetheless, “elements of the Glasgow Package are a lifeline for my country. We must not discount the crucial wins covered in this package.” — Reuters

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