COP26, Day 10: U.K. hosts published a draft text that urged countries to improve their climate targets by next year

    11 Nov 2021

    The endgame of COP26 has begun. In the early hours of November 10 morning, the U.K. hosts published a draft text that urged countries to improve their climate targets by next year. Now the other 196 nations are digesting its contents and starting to push back.

    One of the most contentious clauses is a commitment to accelerate the phase-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels. The draft also seeks to boost cash for poor countries to cope with the worst impacts of climate change.

    Already, India has said it won’t agree to the fossil fuel language, while former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said the draft “fails on key asks of the most vulnerable nations.” Saudi Arabia rejected accusations that it’s blocking progress.

    The talks on an accelerated phase-out of coal use and fossil fuel subsidies could have future implications for the U.S. and international climate litigation.

    If it remains in the summit communique, the reference suggests that the COP26 outcome could strengthen arguments for an international law requiring fossil fuels to remain in the ground, Catherine Higham, coordinator for the Climate Change Laws of the World Project at the Grantham Research Institute in London, said in an interview.

     

    Summary by BBC:

    • PM Boris Johnson is to give an update on progress during a news conference at COP26 in Glasgow.
    • It comes as the first draft of an agreement from COP26 setting out how the world will tackle climate change has been published.
    • The draft agreement “expresses alarm and concern” that humans have caused warming of 1.1° C already and says impacts are being felt everywhere.
    • It also calls on governments to strengthen their climate targets by the end of 2022, putting pressure on big emitters.
    • Saudi Arabia denies it is obstructing progress towards a strong deal, calling such allegations “a cheat and a lie”.
    • Meanwhile, dozens of countries promise to phase out petrol and diesel-powered cars but the US, China and Germany don’t sign up.
    • COP26 aims to keep global temperature rises under 1.5° C to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
    • But with only a few days remaining, analysts say there is a big gap between long-term targets and shorter-term action.

     

    COP26 Climate Summit: environmental ambitions and main conclusions of the first week

    A large-scale UN climate conference is taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, attended by 30,000 participants from around the world. In particular, country leaders, members of the public and the media. There are many issues on the agenda, but the main thing is how to keep the planet’s warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    European Truth journalist Anastasia Zagoruychyk talks about the first week of the conference and what the countries have committed to do to preserve the environment.

    Climatic ambitions

    Many countries have made ambitious statements. For example, India has set itself the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2070, ie, when CO2 emissions equal the amount of gas absorbed.

    India is the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, the United States and the European Union. Two-thirds of India’s energy production depends on coal. Brazil has promised to achieve zero emissions by 2050 – ten years earlier than previously stated.

    A dozen smaller countries have also committed to carbon neutrality, including: Mauritania (by 2030, subject to international support); Israel, Vietnam, Rwanda, Lithuania and Montenegro (until 2050); Nigeria (until 2060); and Ukraine (until 2060). Nigeria’s statement is particularly important as oil and gas production is now a major part of its economy.

     

     

    Overall, countries responsible for more than 70% of global emissions have now set zero-emission targets in legislation or as a clear political commitment. At the same time, the latest UN report, which analyzes nationally determined contributions from countries, states that they will lead to an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 by about 13.7%. Such forecasts are forcing governments to act more actively.

    Finances

    At the Paris COP21 in 2015, it was agreed that developed countries should mobilize $ 100 billion annually by 2020 to combat climate change and adaptation policies for developing countries. It is now clear that the $ 100 billion goal will not be reached before 2023.

    The UK has increased its liabilities to £ 11.6 billion over the next four years. The United States, Germany and Canada have also increased their commitments.

    Climate financing, both public and private, is provided through loans, guarantees, export credits, bilateral financing and funding from donor governments through funds. For example, the Green Climate Fund, created specifically for this purpose, or more general, such as the Asian Development Fund or the World Bank.

    More than 450 firms from 45 countries, joined by the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), can provide the more than $130 trillion in funding needed for carbon neutrality over the next three decades.

     

     

    Coal

    The abandonment of coal energy is crucial to maintaining global temperatures, as coal is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gases.

    That is why more than 40 countries have promised to abandon coal as part of the Powering Past Coal Alliance initiative. This is an international campaign aimed at phasing out such fossil fuels.

    Countries have pledged to get rid of coal by 2030-2040, depending on the capacity of the economy.

    Methane

    Methane heats the planet much faster than carbon dioxide. For the first 20 years after methane enters the atmosphere, it has a heating capacity 80 times greater than CO2.

    This gas is responsible for 25% of global warming, and one of its largest sources is the oil and gas industry.

    At the same time, because methane decomposes much faster than carbon, the reduction of its emissions can best affect the planet’s temperature in a relatively short period of time.

    To this end, 105 countries responsible for 70% of methane emissions have signed the Global Methane Pledge by 30% by 2030.

    This can reduce global warming by at least 0.2 ℃. The agreement was signed by 11 of the 20 countries that are top methane emitters. The other major polluters, China, Russia and India, have not done so.

     

     

    Forests

    World leaders did not forget forests at the summit. 134 countries, which cover 91% of the world’s forests, including Brazil, the United States and Canada, have promised to end deforestation by 2030.

    The goals are planned to be achieved with the support of $ 19.2 billion in public and private funding. Deforestation is causing climate change as it depletes forests, which absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide.

    In addition, 28 countries have pledged to exclude several foods from world trade, including palm oil, soy or cocoa. These industries lead to the destruction of forests for the cultivation of crops.

    (How does palm oil affect the environment? Read the full article on Ecolife here).

    The countries have also promised to set up a fund of more than a billion pounds to protect the world’s second-largest rainforest in the Congo River basin.

     

     

    Conclusions of the first week

    In some places, environmental activists do not see progress in the 26th COP. For example, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg called the summit a “greenwashing festival”, ie when loud statements about the importance of the environment do not lead to action, but rather serve as an image tool.

    The paradox is that the 11 companies selected as the “main partners” of the COP26 climate summit in 2020 caused more greenhouse gas pollution in the world than was produced in the UK.

    An analysis by The Ferret showed that these companies had a total carbon footprint of almost 350 million tons in 2020. These are SSE, ScottishPower, Sky, Sainsbury’s, Unilever, NatWest, National Grid, Microsoft, Hitachi, Reckitt and GlaxoSmithKline.

    ***

    Results of the first week of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow in the context of the negotiation texts

    Let’s read the member of the Ukrainian delegation, Iryna Stavchuk opinion.

    The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, UK, has crossed the equator, and certain conclusions can be drawn as to where countries can make progress and reach a solution.

    After a week of expert talks this Monday and two days, ministerial consultations are underway, during which ministers are trying to agree on positions.

    What are the main discussions about?

    Transparency of climate reporting

    One of the main tasks of these negotiations for the parties is completing the “Katowice Rules Book,” which deals with the mechanisms of implementation of the Paris Agreement and began to be developed at the COP24 negotiations in Poland in 2018. The first essential task is to put in place a Transparency Framework System, which is to introduce a single GHG inventory system for all countries and a single format for reporting tables to track progress towards the objectives of the IER. Why is this important? The Paris Agreement provides for mechanisms for trading in emission reduction units, so all systems should be as appropriate as possible. There is a chance to persuade developing countries to agree to such changes, including expanding program assistance and funding the Global Environment Facility to prepare such reports.

     

    Common NDC timeframes

    Countries cannot agree on a single format for presenting their climate goals. How often to apply and for what period. Of the 9 options discussed last week, 2 were made today:

    • Every five years submit an updated NVB for the next 10 years and so on;
    • Every five years, the NVV is updated for the next 10 or 15 or 20 years.

    Institutional support and climate finance for countries with economies in transition.

    As a result of the discussion, the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) approved and referred to COP26 a draft decision stating that “countries with economies in transition, which are currently receiving assistance, regardless of the progress made, need further support for institutional development, in particular to regularly update and meet its emission reduction targets, to regularly update and implement its climate change adaptation strategies, and to develop and implement national long-term low-carbon development strategies in line with their national priorities.” Thus, countries with economies in transition will be able to continue receiving financial assistance.

    The Global Environment Facility, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international organizations, multilateral development banks, international financial institutions and the private sector or any other donors are invited to continue to support institutional capacity building for climate policy in transition economies for at least the next 5 years.

     

     

    Finances

    Regarding the New collective quantified goal on climate finance, which developed post-industrial countries undertake to provide to those with economies in transition and / or most affected by climate change, it has been decided that the new target should be set by 2024 and that it should be significantly increased from the current level of $ 100 billion per year.

    Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – international mechanisms

    The comprehensive rules of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which will allow for transparent accounting of emission reductions and the creation of an international carbon market, continue to be hotly debated. Significant progress was made on the text last week, but there are still many essential elements that the international community needs to address.

    Several key issues are currently being discussed in the drafting of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

    • In particular, the “adaptation rate” is the proposed provision for the transfer of 2 or 5% of emission reduction units when they are issued to the Adaptation Fund to finance adaptation projects in developing countries.
    • On the transfer of emission reduction units received under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from 2013 to 2020 to the period after 2020.
    • Allow considering new requests from CDM projects for registration, renewal and issuance of emission reduction units after 2020 under the CDM on a temporary basis until the Article 6.4 mechanism becomes operational. This option is being promoted by developing countries.

    This is not an exhaustive list of issues at the conference, the agendas include dozens of items and draft documents.

    On the UNFCCC Convention

    The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is a UN global treaty that aims to coordinate support for international efforts in response to the threat of climate change. The Convention has universal membership – it includes 197 parties – all officially recognized countries, and is the parent agreement for the 2015 Paris Agreement. The main goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the growth of the average global temperature in this century as close as possible to 1.5° C relative to the pre-industrial level and to prevent the growing catastrophic climate change.

     

     

    Buttigieg: Don’t blame God for climate change

    One must blame humanity, not God, for climate change’s “sinful” harms, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says.

    Negotiators at the Glasgow climate talks have an obligation to people, not just the planet, to stop “those sinful choices of humankind,” that cause climate change, said the U.S. cabinet secretary. Buttigieg made his religious beliefs part of his aborted presidential run.

    Buttigieg was chatting on November 10 with The Nature Conservancy climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian who is married to a pastor, about the religious calling to protect humanity as well as the planet. Buttigieg, a former Indiana mayor, talked about an unnamed religious Indiana Republican official blaming God for climate change and saying it was not for people to deal with.

    “What greater sin could there be (than) to blame God” for climate change? Buttigieg asked.

    The British official chair of the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow says time to resolve key differences is running out.

    Alok Sharma told negotiators Wednesday that he still intends to conclude the two-week talks Friday.

    “My big, big ask of all of you is to please come armed with the currency of compromise,” he said. “What we agree in Glasgow will set the future for our children and grandchildren.”

    “I request us all collectively to please roll up our sleeves and get to work,” he added.

    The European Union’s climate chief, Frans Timmermans, echoed the sense of urgency. “Consider my sleeves rolled,” he told Sharma.

    In a swipe at major polluters like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, whose commitments are seen as being far below what’s needed, Timmermans insisted that “major emitters have a major responsibility.”

    Ahmadou Sebory Touré of Guinea, speaking on behalf of 77 developing countries and China, said they were “extremely concerned with the lack of progress” on the issue of financial aid for poor nations to cope with climate change.

    Brazil’s environment minister has demanded that richer countries provide the US$100 billion annual funding agreed upon to help developing countries switch to clean energy and handle the impact of climate change.

    “The $100 billion target has not been met,” Joaquim Leite said in a speech in Glasgow Wednesday. “And this amount is no longer enough for the world to build a new green economy with a responsible transition.”

    The minister added that “More ambitious volumes with easy access and agile execution are needed for inclusive transformation to take place in every territory around the world.”

    The Biden administration and Democrats are making progress on climate in all kinds of ways, House Democrats said Wednesday, despite congressional troubles that are making passage of President Joe Biden’s $555 billion climate legislation a struggle.

    Members of a U.S. congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke to reporters during a press conference at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

    With only the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, and a key coal-state Democratic senator opposed to many of Biden’s clean-fuel efforts, Democrats have struggled for months to pass Biden’s main climate legislation. At the climate summit, the U.S. has joined some other countries pledging to phase out overseas financing of fossil fuel infrastructure but declined to sign up alongside countries that pledged to wean themselves off coal.

    “We wish we could do all kinds of things,” Rep. Jared Huffman of California told reporters at the talks. “But instead of just throwing up our hands because of these political roadblocks and not taking action, we are finding ways to navigate these problems and still take action.”

    Representatives cited U.S. investment in cleaner energy and transportation, a Biden administration crackdown on methane leaks, and the growing competitiveness of clean energy in the marketplace.

    “The coal industry is dying in the United States, not necessarily because of regulations that Donald Trump unwound, but because of economics,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said.

    A group of nations and companies has announced plans to make the switch to emissions-free cars by 2040 and by no later than 2035 in leading auto markets.

    The announcement was made Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Glasgow. It was backed by countries including Canada, Chile, Denmark, India, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

    Ford, General Motors, Mercedes Benz and Volvo, as well as several states and cities in the United States and elsewhere, signed the plan. Some companies, such as Volvo, already have even earlier targets to phase out combustion engines.

    Separately, a number of countries are pledging to phase out the use of trucks and buses with internal combustion engines.

    Companies involved in road haulage are signing up, including delivery giant DHL, truck-maker Scania and Dutch brewer Heineken.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading back to COP26 to press negotiators from around the world to “turn promises into action” in the summit’s closing days.

    Johnson attended a world leaders’ summit that kicked off the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow last week, and will return to the Scottish city Wednesday.

    So far the conference has produced headline-grabbing announcements in areas including ending coal power, funding green technology and reversing deforestation. But the almost 200 nations attending remain far from sealing a deal that could limit global warming to the internationally agreed goal of 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.

    Johnson’s office says issues still being hammered out include “a common time frame for national commitments on emissions reductions and agreed methodology for countries to report on their climate action” – mechanisms that can be used to hold countries to their commitments.

    There is also an unkept promise from rich nations to give more money to the countries most vulnerable to climate change – often developing nations that have done least to cause it.

    Johnson, along with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, will meet with government officials, negotiators and civil society groups in an attempt to inject momentum into the talks.

    Johnson said climate change “is bigger than any one country and it is time for nations to put aside differences and come together for our planet and our people. We need to pull out all the stops if we’re going to keep 1.5C within our grasp.”

    COP26 is due to end Friday, though the talks could stretch on longer.

     

    Cop26 draft calls for tougher emissions pledges by next year

    Move is recognition of gap between current pledges and goals but critics say it does not go far enough, The Guardian states.

    A draft of the Cop26 negotiation outcome published overnight urges countries to strengthen their 2030 greenhouse gas emissions targets by the end of next year in a recognition of the yawning gap between current pledges and the landmark 2015 Paris agreement.

    The text, released by the Cop26 president, Alok Sharma, called on all countries to increase their short-term commitments in 2022, which would be a step forward. It also asks them to agree to an annual high-level ministerial round table focused on raising ambition further starting next November.

    However, it refers to the Paris temperature goal, which could limit temperature rises to 2° C, rather than the more ambitious goal of 1.5° C that many countries and campaigners were hoping for. Campaigners also argued that the text was also far too weak on the critical issues of clean development, adaptation, and loss and damages.

    It followed widespread dismay on Tuesday after a projection by Climate Action Tracker found, based on analysis of countries’ current 2030 targets, that global heating was likely to soar to 2.4° C above pre-industrial levels. Scientists warn a temperature rise on the scale would lead to devastation across the globe due to worsening heatwaves, floods, drought, storms and sea-level rise.

    The draft, released before dawn in the UK on Wednesday and to be negotiated by countries over the final three days, is likely to form the basis for the main outcome at the summit, which aims to clarify and build on the Paris agreement.

    It proposed that countries agree to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels – a potential first acknowledgement of fossil fuels’ central role in the climate crisis in a UN agreement – and called on all developed countries to at least double climate finance commitments to help those worst affected across the globe.

    On the pace of cuts, it recognized the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that limiting global heating to 1.5° C by 2100 would require “meaningful and effective action” by all countries in this “critical decade” to achieve a 45% cut in global emissions by 2030 on the way to net-zero by “around mid-century.” The draft “noted with serious concern” that based on current commitments emissions were instead on track to rise 13.7% by 2030.

    Developing countries at the talks have been pushing hard for countries to be forced to revise their commitments, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), as soon as possible – next year, according to many.

    Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 1992 parent treaty to the Paris accord, a Cop (conference of the parties) takes place every year. But under the Paris agreement, countries have to revise their NDCs only every five years.

    For the High Ambition Coalition, made up of developed and developing countries including the US, the EU, the Marshall Islands and many of the other countries most at risk from climate breakdown, waiting five years for a revision is too long. The coalition put out a statement – not yet signed by all members, but approved by the US and more than 30 others – calling for countries to have to update their NDCs every year if they were not aligned with the 1.5° C goal.

    Observers said the draft fell substantially short of what was needed. Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said it was a little more than an agreement to “all cross our fingers and hope for the best”, and said stronger action was needed on finance and adaptation, including “real numbers in the hundreds of billions”.

    “It’s a polite request that countries maybe, possibly, do more next year,” she said. “That’s not good enough, and the negotiators shouldn’t even think about leaving this city until they’ve agreed to a deal that meets the moment. Because most assuredly, this one does not.

    Morgan acknowledged the text called for an accelerated phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies, but said it was likely “wreckers like the Saudi and Australian governments will be working to gut that part before this conference closes”.

    “The text currently put forward by the UK presidency is extremely problematic, as it does not actually address the crucial need to scale up adaptation finance and mitigation finance,” said Eddy Pérez, at Climate Action Network Canada.

    “It is not enough to just acknowledge that there is a need for loss and damage finance. There needs to be greater clarity that, if we are to keep 1.5C within reach, the resources need to be there so that developing countries and emerging economies have access to the trillions of dollars that are needed to really close the gap,” he said.

    Alden Meyer, at the thinktank e3g said: “We’ve particularly not seeing the EU and US step up to push for the financial support they need to deliver for vulnerable countries to bring balance to the [Cop26] package.”

    “To get what [the EU and US] say they want in Glasgow on [emissions cuts] and transparency from countries like China and others, they need to build a much stronger high ambition coalition by giving the vulnerable countries what they need and deserve on adaptation and finance and loss and damage. And for both the US and the EU, that means crossing some of their red lines.”

    Bill Hare, the chief executive of Climate Analytics, one of the organisations behind CAT, said the draft did not recognize the urgency needed to close the 2030 emissions gap.

    He said the Cop president should have called out all countries that had not submitted targets in line with the 1.5C goal of the Paris agreement, and cautioned that the current wording implied further action could be pushed out until 2023.

    Ed Miliband MP, Labour’s shadow business secretary, commenting on the draft Cop26 text, said: “The last 24 hours have been a devastating reality check on what has actually been delivered at this summit. We are miles from where we need to be to halve global emissions this decade.

    The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, who is preparing to return to Glasgow for a day on Wednesday, has urged countries to “pull out all the stops” as the summit enters its final days.

    ***

    The draft text is the most important document that will emerge from the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow. Unlike the last major climate conference, in Paris in 2015, what emerges here will not be a new treaty, but a series of decisions and resolutions that build on the Paris accord.

    Those Cop decisions have legal force in the context of the Paris agreement, so this is a powerful document. But it is also a document that can only be accepted by the consensus of all parties, therefore much of the language is cautious and some is ambiguous or open to interpretation, to the frustration of the countries who want to move faster.

    The document was drafted by the UK presidency, but does not represent the UK’s view – rather, it is a reflection of what the UK has been told by all the parties in Glasgow. Delegations here are now consulting with the leaders of their countries and other senior officials.

    The key aim for Cop26 is to “keep 1.5° C alive”. There are a few notable victories in this text: a mention of phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies – the first time that has appeared in a Cop decision – and strong language on the scientific imperative to stay within 1.5° C of global heating. But whether this text is enough to achieve that overarching goal is still up for debate.

    Katie White, the executive director of campaigns at WWF, said for The Guardian: “It’s essential that we recognize this as the start line, not the finish. If we are to come close to reaching our 1.5C target in time, ambition and momentum need to accelerate across the board.”

    The UK hosts face an uphill task in agreeing all elements of the Paris rulebook at this Cop. There are ongoing discussions over carbon markets and their role in cutting emissions (under article 6 of the Paris accord) and how countries must verify and report on their emissions, known as transparency and accountability.

    It would be an extraordinary achievement if the UK can get the outstanding elements of the Paris rulebook finalized at this Cop. Without it, however, the Cop can still be a success if enough progress is made on the substantive issues on improving NDCs and keeping 1.5° C alive.

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