COP26, Day 7: “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”

    08 Nov 2021

    One hundred thousand participants gathered in the climate march in Glasgow at COP26, BBC states.

    Saturday at the climate summit was dedicated to agriculture and conscious land use.

    Industrial agricultural production is one of the primary sources of CO2 emissions on the planet, with 1/3 of all manufactured products we simply throw away, WWF states.

    As part of this discussion, 45 countries decided on urgent measures in the transition to sustainable cultivation of cereals, vegetables and fruits.

    95 large companies have agreed to join the program to reduce the negative impact on nature and, conversely, to invest in its restoration!

    69 countries have signed an agreement to protect 30% of the world’s oceans through the introduction of protected marine areas and other effective measures, under the so-called 30by30 target.

    Environmental activists and Greta Thunberg are preparing new protests, demanding deeper changes.

    COP26: Indigenous peoples, protests, and a call to end the war on nature

    As millions took to the streets of cities around the world on Saturday, demanding greater climate action, some countries taking part in the COP26 negotiations, made new pledges to invest in nature-based solutions and a greener approach to farming.

    Mother Nature, or “Pachamama”, as they say in Latin America, took centre stage as the pivotal UN climate conference reached the halfway point.

    Nature is critical to our survival: it provides the oxygen we need to breathe, regulates weather patterns, supplies food and water for all living things, and is home to countless species of wildlife, and the ecosystems they need to survive.

    According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), human activity has disrupted almost 75 per cent of the earth’s surface and put some one million animal and plant species on the endangered list.

    We have overexploited nature’s resources, deforested lands for agriculture and the cattle industry, while climate change is now exacerbating that process faster than ever, increasing erosion and desertification.

    Oceans have become polluted, which absorb around one-third of our carbon emissions, meaning they are losing the ability to be ‘climate change buffers’, according to the UN scientific agency, UNESCO.

    It is clear humanity is “waging a war on nature”, as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said several times in recent months, urging greater action.

    “We can’t continue to push nature into a corner and expect it to deliver. We want it to sequester carbon, to provide the buffers for the high storms and mangroves and to be the lungs of the world.

    “But when we mess with nature, nature will send us these invoices in the forms of greater intensity storms, more fires, more heatwaves and more droughts”, the Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, told UN News at COP26 on Saturday.

    Call for nature-based solutions

    Solving climate change cannot be done without solving the challenge of biodiversity loss and degraded ecosystems, a high-level panel that included Ms. Andersen heard.

    She called for unity and cooperation to find the solutions needed to restore nature and address climate change.

    “The social-economic transformations we need, will only happen when we reset our relationship with nature, understanding that we can no longer invest in that which harms our planet”, she said.

    As countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a big push for nature-based solutions against climate change, and in terms of aiding economic recovery. These are initiatives that provide benefits for nature and for people, UNEP’s chief explained to UN News.

     

     

    “How can nature help us, and how we can help nature…There are two billion hectares of degraded land and we all need to eat. So, the question is if we are going to cut down virgin forests, or restore that land into a working landscape”, she underscored.

    Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (RCA) is a natural protected area of 402,335.96 hectares managed by 10 harakbuts, yines and machiguengas communities in Madre de Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon. UNDP Peru

    Amarakaeri Communal Reserve (RCA) is a natural protected area of 402,335.96 hectares managed by 10 harakbuts, yines and machiguengas communities in Madre de Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon.

    Protecting the original nature experts

    No one knows more about how best to protect nature, than the indigenous peoples of the world, which have been very active inside and outside the COP venue in Glasgow this week, working to influence negotiations in every way possible, including street protests.

    “The indigenous culture teaches us to respect rivers, lakes, plants, animals and the spiritual beings who live in these places. You can’t solve the climate crisis without including indigenous peoples and without protecting their territories”, activist Eloy Terena told UN News.

    UN News also caught up at COP26 with Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, former UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, who reminded that indigenous communities really are the experts on living in harmony with nature, one fundamental reason why their territories currently contain 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

    “We really use nature to solve all of our problems of food security, of water or climate change and other services and we have done it in a way that doesn’t destroy nature, so we have a lot to share with the dominant world and we need support to stop governments from criminalizing us, for protecting our territories,” she highlighted.

    The international environmental activist said that while indigenous communities had strict laws and customs, to protect nature, States have conflicting laws.

    “For example, in the Philippines, we have an Indigenous Rights Act, but we also have the Mining Act and well as an Investments Agreement who pushes them to extract our resources”, she said.

     

     

     

    Ms. Tauli-Corpuz explained that during COP, indigenous representatives are moving their strategy to influence some of the decisions that are going to be made by the end of the week, including Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which will establish rules for carbon markets and other forms of international cooperation.

    “The push is to really say that we cannot have market-based mechanisms if they violate indigenous people’s rights”.

    Life or death

    Although ancestral communities contribute next to zero to climate change, they have become one of its most vulnerable victims.

    Daniela Balaguera comes from the Arhuaco indigenous community in the North of Colombia. An ancestral indigenous tribe which lives in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, an isolated mountain range separate from the Andes, that runs through the centre of the country and serves as the source for 36 different rivers downstream.

    “Our territories are supposed to be sacred, they are for environmental conservation, but they are not really being treated that way and that is where we must delve deeper. If they are protected areas, they should be given the guarantees and rights that have been recognized but that they are not exercising”, she says.

    For her, and many other activists that have expressed their voices at COP, climate change is a matter of life and death.

    “We are being threatened with the second extinction of our cultural practices, which is extremely worrying because it would be the second massacre, the second annihilation of our people”, she said.

    Negotiations underway

     

     

    Ms. Balaguera’s concerns are being echoed on the streets of Glasgow this Saturday, and in many other parts of the world such as London and Paris, where activists from all ages and backgrounds have called for a Global Day of Action.

    Meanwhile, the COP hosts announced that 45 governments are pledging urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming.

    The new commitment aims to transform agriculture and food systems through policy reforms, research and innovation, in order to reduce emissions and protect nature, whilst securing food and jobs.

    This includes leveraging over $4 billion in new public sector investment in agricultural innovation, including the development of climate-resilient crops and regenerative solutions to improve soil health, helping make these techniques and resources affordable and accessible to hundreds of millions of farmers. 

    Approximately a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry, and other land use.

    COP26 President Alok Sharma, also announced on Saturday that the Glasgow Forest Declaration presented earlier this week, has been now signed by 130 countries, covering 93% of the world’s tree cover.

    He gave an update on the current negotiations at COP26 to journalists, informing them that many agreements have been reached, on topics such as gender, agriculture, and national adaptation.

     

     

    COP26: Thousands of young people take over Glasgow streets demanding climate action

    Young climate activists take part in demonstrations at the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

    “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” echoed throughout central Glasgow on Friday as thousands of protesters took the streets during the dedicated “Youth Day” at COP26.

    Although the march was initially organized by Fridays for Future, the youth-driven movement inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, people of all ages gathered at George Square to demand climate action.

    From small children waving their handmade picket signs, to older adults demanding a better future for those that will come after them, the COP26 host city saw citizen activists in unprecedented numbers rallying to get their message heard.

    An even larger march was expected on November 6.

    Welsh citizen Jane Mansfield carried around a sign that read: “Code red for humanity”, the signature phrase UN Secretary-General António Guterres used after the latest IPCC report published earlier this year warned of a looming climate catastrophe.

    “I really care about the world that we are passing on to future generations, and what we are doing to the Global South. I live in southwest Wales and climate change is clearly happening, but we don´t even grasp what is happening in so many other parts of the world and I am scared,” she told UN News.

    Latin-American Indigenous leaders were also among today’s demonstrations. They were the ones leading the march and several of them sent a loud message to world leaders: stop extracting resources and to ‘leave carbon in the ground’.

    “Indigenous people are dying in the river; they’re being washed away by massive floods. Houses are being washed away, schools full of children inside, bridges, our food our crops, everything is being washed away”, they said at a stage in George Square.

    Meanwhile, some activists wore bobblehead masks of presidents and prime ministers and depicted them as being arrested with signs that read “climate criminals”.

     

     

    More real action, less ‘greenwashing’

    Swedish activist Greta Thunberg was the last to appear on the protest’s stage, where she criticized world leaders for their continued “blah, blah, blah” after 26 years of climate conferences and put in doubt the transparency of the commitments they have made during this COP.

    “The leaders are not doing nothing; they are actively creating loopholes and shaping frameworks to benefit themselves, and to continue profiting from this destructive system. This is an active choice by the leaders to continue the exploitation of nature and people and the destruction of presents and future living conditions to take place”, she said, calling the conference a “greenwashing event”.

    Other Fridays for Future members, speaking to UN News, asked for more participation and better youth representation in the negotiations that are underway at COP26.

    “Every year we have been disappointed by COP, and I don’t think this year will be different. There is a sliver of hope but at the same time we don’t see enough action, we can’t achieve anything with just pledges and empty promises”, said a representative of Youth Advocates for Climate Change in the Philippines 

    “Negotiations are happening and yet we are here in the street, because we haven’t been included. The richest people come in their private jets and take the decisions. We are here and we won’t be ignored. We will make our own space”, another climate advocate added.

     

     

    The Youth Statement

    The same call was made inside the conference’s Blue Zone, where climate activists from YOUNGO, the Children and Youth Constituency of UN Climate Change, delivered to the COP Presidency and other leaders a statement signed by 40,000 young people demanding change.

    The statement raised several points of concern, among them inclusion in climate negotiations. It also asked Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to support young people’s efforts to have a paragraph mentioning the importance of the youth included in the final declaration that is expected to be adopted at the end of COP26.

    “We will be bringing these issues and demands to the attentions of the delegations, all of them are absolutely reasonable and justifiable,” she vowed during a panel discussion with young leaders. 

    The statement, which was handed over to Ministers, also asks for action on climate finance, mobility and transportation, wildlife protection and environmental conservation.

    “Wherever I have been in the world, I have been struck by the passion and the commitment of young people to climate action. The voices of young people must be heard and reflected in these negotiations here at COP. The actions and scrutiny of young people are key to us keeping 1.5 alive and creating a net-zero future”, said Alok Sharma, COP26 President.

    Meanwhile, the UK and Italy, in partnership with UNESCO, Youth4Climate and Mock COP coordinated new global action to equip future generations with the knowledge and skills to create a net-zero world. 

    As Education Ministers and young people gathered, over 23 countries put forward national climate education pledges, ranging from decarbonizing the education sector to developing school resources.

    The youth are right: the new commitments aren’t enough

    The UNFCCC published its latest updates of the national commitments thus far to reduce carbon emissions, and although some advances have been made during the conference, they are still not enough.

    “A sizable increase, of about 13.7%, in global greenhouse emissions in 2030 compared to 2010 is anticipated”, the report says.

    Before COP, the increase was calculated at 16%, but for the world to be able to curb global heating and avoid disastrous consequences, emissions must be cut by 50% in the next nine years.

    For Carla Huanca, a young activist who traveled all the way from Bolivia to be in Glasgow with her friend, the dinosaur “T-Resilient”, another extinction can’t be a possibility.

    “We young people will be the ones that will inherit this planet, and that is why it is so important that our voices are heard. We demand government actions so we can all have the planet we want,” she told UN News.

     

    So what has Cop26 achieved so far?

    Agreements on deforestation, methane and coal were welcome news. Less so was some countries’ absence from major initiatives, The Guardian states.

    In terms of national carbon pledges, India provided the best news last week, with prime minister Narendra Modi announcing that the country – currently a significant polluter – intends to generate half its electricity from renewables by 2030 and achieve net-zero emission status by 2070.

    Most experts rate the latter target as extremely ambitious and, according to the journal Nature, many suspect it is more likely that India’s plan is to reach net-zero only for carbon dioxide by 2070, with other greenhouse gases coming later. Nevertheless, the move is significant and contrasts sharply with the poor emission commitments made to date by Saudi Arabia, the planet’s second-biggest oil producer, and by Russia, its second-biggest gas provider. Much, in short, remains to be done.

    Forests

    Felling trees contributes to climate change because it depletes forest cover, which is vital for absorbing carbon dioxide. Forests are, it’s said, being cleared at a rate of 30 football pitches’ worth a minute. An agreement to call a halt to this staggering level of deforestation – reached on Tuesday – was one of the high points of Cop26’s first week. As part of the deal, more than 100 world leaders agreed to reverse deforestation by 2030. Crucially, Brazil – which has cut down vast stretches of the Amazon rainforest in recent years – was among the signatories. However, observers have pointed out that a previous international agreement, in 2014, failed to slow deforestation in any way. On the other hand, the latest pledge is being backed with some serious money: almost £14bn ($19.2bn) of public and private funds. Some of this money will go to developing countries, to restore damaged land and help tackle wildfires.

    Methane

    Carbon dioxide may be the principal driver of global warming, but methane is also a potent greenhouse gas, and atmospheric levels have surged over the past decade. The commitment – by an alliance of more than 90 nations, representing two-thirds of the global economy – to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% from current levels by 2030 is therefore considered an important, albeit belated, step forward.

    “Cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective things we can do to reduce near-term global warming and keep it to 1.5°C,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. Methane is emitted from gas and oil wells, pipelines, livestock, and municipal landfill sites, and much of the effort – to be led by the US – will involve companies being obliged to plug leaks in more than 3 million miles of pipelines. Significantly however, China, India and Russia have not pledged to cut their methane emissions.

    Coal

    Greenhouse gases produced by burning coal are the single most significant contributor to climate change. Weaning the world off coal is considered critical in limiting temperature rises across the planet.

    “I think we can say the end of coal is in sight,” said Alok Sharma, British president of the two-week summit, detailing an agreement to phase out existing coal-fuelled power plants and stop building new ones. Signatories of the non-binding pledge include major banks and, he said “46 countries … 23 of which are making commitments on ending coal for the first time”.

    However, the absence of Australia, India, the US and China from the pledge to drop coal has drawn criticism. “The key point in this underwhelming announcement is that coal is basically allowed to continue as normal for years yet,” said Jamie Peters, director of campaigns at Friends of the Earth.

    Future warming

    The International Energy Agency (IEA), the world’s energy watchdog, reacted fairly enthusiastically to the pledges made so far. “New @IEA analysis shows that fully achieving all net-zero pledges to date & the Global Methane Pledge by those who signed it would limit global warming to 1.8C,” the agency’s director, Fatih Birol, wrote on Twitter last Friday. But Selwin Hart, the special adviser to the UN secretary-general on climate action, challenged the assertion. “Fatih, I heard your numbers,” he said in Glasgow. “But based on the nationally determined contributions that have been submitted, the world is on a 2.7 degree pathway – a catastrophic pathway.”

    Counter climate summit kicks off as activists lament Cop26 inaction

    Coalition aims to give voice to ideas and solutions it believes are mainly absent from the Cop talks, The Guardian reports.

    A counter climate summit kicks off in Glasgow on Sunday amid mounting criticism from activists about greenwashed solutions and stalled action from corporations and rich nations inside Cop26.

    The People’s Summit for Climate Justice will bring together movements and communities from across the world to amplify voices, ideas and solutions it believes are largely absent from Cop – including the global green new deal, polluters’ liability, indigenous ecological knowledge and the gulf between net zero and real zero emissions.

    Organisers hope that sharing expertise on equitable and transformative non-market solutions to the climate emergency will help create a powerful grassroots collective to force governments to be more ambitious and less beholden to big business.

    The summit comes after world leaders last week failed to commit to phasing out fossil fuels fast enough to contain global heating to 1.5C. It follows several days of protests in Glasgow, London and another 200 cities globally, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets to demand bold, fast and fair climate action.

    “Building power outside the Cop is essential if we are to hold world leaders to account inside the Cop, and force them to do what we know needs to be done,” said Asad Rehman, the director of War on Want and co-founder of the Cop26 Coalition which organised Saturday’s global protests and the summit.

    “We’re creating a movement of movements in order to deepen and reshape the understanding of the climate crisis in the global north through a climate justice lens.”

    The four-day summit includes participants from indigenous and frontline communities, trade unions, racial justice and migrant rights groups, youth strikers, landworkers, NGOs, feminist movements and faith groups, as well as progressive lawmakers such as Caroline Lucas, Mercy Barends and Rashida Tlaib, who support the green new deal.

    It opens with a People’s Tribunal in which activists and former Cop negotiators will hear evidence on charges against the UNFCCC, including the failure to come up with appropriate climate finance for planetary and social survival and a failure to regulate corporations.

    Participants will share personal stories about the impact of climate-related land loss, water shortages and forced displacement, which they argue will get worse if governments and corporations forge ahead with unjust climate solutions such as carbon capture and mass reforestation.

    “Putting a price on natural resources is an act of colonialism and inhumanity. But there are other ways, humanity-based alternatives that we’ll share so they can’t say that they didn’t know,” said Calfin Lafkenche, a Mapuche organiser from Chile in Glasgow with the Minga movement, an indigenous solidarity network taking part in an event on false climate solutions.

    While some summit delegates are also participating at Cop26 as observers or panelists, the Minga movement refuses – arguing that the terms and conditions of participation violate their rights as autonomous peoples. Still, organizers hope the people’s summit will help build bridges between civil society groups inside and outside the UN talks to create a more unified and powerful movement.

    Another central theme will be net-zero – the concept of offsetting or neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions (rather than ending them) through carbon markets, new as-yet-undeveloped technologies and massive reforestation programs.

    Pledges to achieve net-zero by 2050 have been heavily promoted by world leaders at Cop26 as signs of progress, despite warnings that the numbers don’t add up, and that in any case this would be too little too late to avoid catastrophic climate disasters in some parts of the world.

    “They are trying to sell net zero as a Cop26 success, but it is nothing more than the next more sophisticated phase of climate denial to protect business as usual. It’s mitigation denialism,” said Scott Tully from Glasgow Calls out Polluters.

    At the people’s summit, the Real Zero, Real Solutions panel will also focus on liability, and why countries and corporations responsible for greenhouse gas emissions should compensate communities who’ve lost their homes, land and livelihoods to rising sea levels and climate disasters such as floods and drought.

    Rich countries including the US and UK oppose the inclusion of liability in negotiations about averting and minimising loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, even though many communities are already living with the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions they did not contribute to.

    Hellen Kaneni, the Africa region director for the US nonprofit Corporate Accountability, said: “People want big polluters to be held to account, and liability measures to guide governments exist but it’s not being discussed at Cop because of conflicts of interest. Polluters should leave the room when we’re creating checks and balances to regulate them, instead it’s like they own the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) space while we cannot get in.”

    Kaneni, who is based in Kampala, Uganda, was unable to attend in person as she could not access a Covid vaccine. About two-thirds of civil society organisations who usually send delegates to Cop have not travelled to Glasgow due to “vaccine apartheid”, changing travel rules, extortionate travel costs and Britain’s hostile immigration system.

    Migrant rights groups will also be heard at the summit. The climate crisis and environmental destruction are already fuelling internal displacement and forced migration in communities around the world, yet such stories have been largely absent inside the Cop negotiating rooms.

    “Talking about climate change in terms of fossil fuels is a Eurocentric perspective, it should be viewed through a human rights lens which recognises that everyone has the right to thrive, not just survive,” said Yvonne Blake, social justice advocate at Migrants Organising For Rights and Empowerment (More) in Glasgow – a dispersal city for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.

    “Unless we shift the focus to people, we’ll replicate the same colonial structures in which black and brown people’s bodies and lands will be sacrificed,” added Blake.

    In all, more than 200 events – panels, people’s tribunals, workshops and artistic performances – will take place at venues across the city and virtually, covering diverse yet interconnected topics such as health, indigenous traditional knowledge, gender, nuclear power, land rights, food sovereignty and green jobs.

    In a virtual all-day event on Sunday, a people’s health hearing will hear the voices of those who “embody the impact of extractivism, corporate greed and climate change,” said Tammam Aloudat, a Syrian doctor and director of the Global Health Centre in Geneva. Speakers from India, West Papua, Ecuador, Nigeria and the Philippines will describe the health impacts of mining, toxic waste, oil drilling and climate disasters in their communities.

    Aloudat added: “The people’s summit is not only about shifting power, it’s a pronouncement of mistrust in our leaders. This is a symbolic act of dissent.”

    With COP26 credibility at stake, some urge ratcheting up schedule

    Behind the headlines touting new emissions and finance commitments, the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow are facing a battle for credibility, The Guardian states.

    Over the last week, rich countries were accused of repeatedly breaking promises. Big polluters traded barbs. And environmental campaigners have cried betrayal, as years of U.N. climate negotiations to rein in climate-warming carbon emissions and protect the world’s most vulnerable have had little effect.

    “We have not seen sincerity in the commitments and progress made by developed countries, and have heard far more slogans than practical results,” Chinese delegate Gao Xiang wrote in Saturday’s official Shanghai newspaper, Guangming Daily.

    Emissions are rising, and global temperatures – already 1.1° C higher on average than in pre-industrial times – continue to climb. Rich nations that failed to meet a 2020 deadline to extend $100 billion a year in climate finance to poorer nations now say they won’t meet that pledge until 2023.

    Activists have dismissed the first week’s fanfare as “greenwashing,” even as country delegates and U.N. negotiators are still working on the details for implementing old and new promises.

    But with the history of climate diplomacy littered with broken promises, many have asked: what needs to change beyond this year’s two-week conference to ensure accountability?

    Tighten the ratchet

    Negotiators from nearly 200 countries return to the COP26 table on Monday, with just five days left to cut deals needed to cap global warming at 1.5° C – the limit beyond which the world will be courting devastating climate change impacts.

    Among the big issues to resolve are: setting reliable rules for carbon markets, assessing how industrialized countries should pay for climate-linked losses incurred by the rest of the world, and working out financing to help developing countries adapt.

    But one idea has gained traction: making countries review and, if necessary, update their emissions-cutting pledges every year, rather than on the current five-year schedule.

    “It’s an emergency. Every five years? That’s not treating it like an emergency,” said Saleemul Huq, advisor to the 48-country Climate Vulnerable Forum, which began lobbying for more frequent reviews before the Glasgow talks even began.

    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates last week that, if COP26 fell short, countries should be required to revisit their climate plans every year.

    U.S. climate envoy John Kerry also backed more regular reviews.

    “I hope we come out with a very good framework. Whether it’s five years (or) less, I can’t tell you today,” Kerry told journalists Friday. “But I definitely believe it should be as short as we can.”

    Supporters say such a change is crucial. With just 10 years left to bring global emissions down by 45%, which scientists say is vital to keeping the temperature rise in check, countries must be held accountable on an annual basis, they say.

    “It would be negative in my mind to come out of here with too long a horizon,” Kerry said.

    Capacity challenge

     

     

    For poorer countries with limited government capacity, an annual initiative could prove a strain.

    “One year is too short,” said Chioma Felistas Amudi, the assistant chief scientific officer in the climate change department of Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment.

    She said many of country pledges, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), spanned a wide range of policy areas, energy plans, and government initiatives that needed both political will and financial backing.

    “So a one-year check-in would disrupt the process of implementation,” she said. “Five years gives us broader time to implement, and also do the stock-take.”

    Britain’s environment minister questioned whether formal changes to the U.N. process were needed, saying it was already designed for incremental progress.

    “I am not sure whether the technicality around a ratchet is something that we would push for or would be in the final text” this year, Environment Minister George Eustice told Times Radio. But he didn’t rule it out.

    “When you have these annual events … there is a lot of referring back to previous agreements.”

     

     

    Big crowds rally in rainy Glasgow for COP26 climate action

    Tens of thousands of protesters marched on Saturday through rainy downtown Glasgow, and in many other cities around the world, to demand bolder action at the U.N. climate conference, Reuters reports.

    Students, activists and climate-concerned citizens linked arms as they moved slowly through the streets of the Scottish city, host of the COP26 meeting that began on Monday.

    Some pushed children in strollers, some danced to stay warm. Police watched the procession from the flanks.

    “It’s good to have your voice heard,” said Kim Travers of Edinburgh. “Even with the rain, I think it makes it a bit more dramatic.”

    Just a few blocks from the procession, back-room negotiations continued at the COP26 meeting. On stage, speakers sounded the alarm over the threat of global warming to food security.

     

     

    Since the climate talks began, national delegations have been working to agree on technical details for the final pact, to be announced at the end of the conference after more negotiations this week.

    The first week also saw countries make a slew of promises to phase out coal, slash emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane and reduce deforestation. Business leaders and financiers, meanwhile, pledged to invest more in climate solutions.

    But activists have demanded that the meeting make more progress.

    Ros Cadoux, a grandmother from Edinburgh, said she came to march for future generations. “If you’ve got kids and grandkids – my God, What else could you do?”

    Colorful banners bore slogans ranging from earnest calls for “Climate Justice Now,” to the more comical: “No planet = no beer”.

     

     

    One group bounced along to the sound of a drum and chanted “Get Up, Get Down, Keep that Carbon in the Ground.”

    “The climate crisis is about the survival of humanity as we know it,” said Philipp Chmel, who traveled from Germany for the march. “It’s up to the youth and the workers, the working class, to bring about the change that is necessary.”

    One group of youths – some with bullhorns – blamed companies for the climate crisis and chanted calls in favour of socialism while punching their fists in the air.

    Around midday, the rain cleared for a few hours, and an enormous rainbow streaked across the sky.

    “If ever there was a time for activism, and if ever there was a time for the people to come out onto the streets, then it is today,” said University of Glasgow student Theo Lockett, 20.

     

     

    Climate activists held rallies in many other cities, including Seoul, Melbourne, Copenhagen and London.

    Conference halls

    During a panel of speeches on Saturday, Democratic U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse urged companies to rein in groups lobbying politicians to block climate action.

    “Corporate members who made big promises here at this COP have got to get their trade associations under control so they’re not undercutting our work in Congress,” said Whitehouse, who was at COP26 with a bipartisan group of Congress members.

     

     

    He also told journalists that it was crucial to resolve a carbon price for carbon markets – one of the key sticking points in the negotiations.

    Earlier at the conference, actor Idris Elba acknowledged that he had few credentials to speak on climate change, but said he was at COP26 to amplify the climate threat to global food security.

    Sitting on the same panel, climate justice campaigner Vanessa Nakate of Uganda implored the world to stop burning fossil fuels, the main cause of rising global temperatures.

    “We are watching farms collapse and livelihoods lost due to floods, droughts and swarms of locusts,” she said – all of which scientists say are being exacerbated by climate change.

     

     

    “The climate crisis means hunger and death for many people in my country and across Africa.”

    Civil society leaders and representatives from companies like Unilever and PepsiCo spoke about corporate responsibility in making trade and commerce less of a burden on nature.

    Speaking about using satellite technology to monitor global landscapes, the director and founder of Google Earth Outreach (GOOGL.O) urged better stewardship of the world’s forests.

    “We don’t want to be writing the obituary of our planet in high resolution,” Rebecca Moore said.

     

     

    U.S. sets a goal to drive down cost of removing CO2 from atmosphere

    On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration set a goal for driving down the cost of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as part of a U.S. plan to decarbonize the economy by 2050, Reuters states.

    The Department of Energy’s Carbon Negative Earthshot seeks to slash the cost of carbon removal to $100 a tonne by the end of the decade, either through Direct Air Capture (DAC) or helping forests and other natural systems capture and store the gas.

    It is the department’s third “Earthshot”, meant to help achieve Biden’s climate goals, by driving innovations in the toughest technologies to crack. The first two set goals on lowering costs of green hydrogen and long-term utility scale battery storage of energy from renewables. read more

    “We have already poisoned the atmosphere, we have to repair and heal the Earth and the only way to do that is to remove carbon dioxide permanently,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said while introducing the initiative at the COP26 U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.

     

     

    In Iceland, Swiss startup Climeworks AG in September opened the world’s largest plant to suck carbon dioxide from the air and pump it underground where it eventually becomes rock, one of 15 global DAC plants. But costs can hit $600 a tonne and the plants now only remove an amount of carbon equivalent to that emitted by 2,000 cars.

    Fatih Birol, head of the Paris-based International Energy Agency, praised the initiative as an example of how governments can help push down technology costs that energy markets cannot do alone. “We need governments to push the magic button of innovation,” he said.

    Jennifer Wilcox, head of the DOE’s office of fossil energy and carbon management, said using natural systems to remove carbon must surpass hurdles, such as making sure forest fires or future farming do not simply return carbon back to the atmosphere. “Part of this work will be defining what metrics (are) in order to monitor and verify storage on a long term scale” for nature-based approaches, Wilcox said.

    The carbon negative initiative will be funded through the Energy Department’s annual appropriations. In addition, the bipartisan infrastructure bill has about $3.5 billion in incentives for DAC demonstration projects. That bill has already passed the U.S. Senate and that the House of Representatives could vote on it as soon as Friday.

    Carbon Engineering, a Canada-based company, plans to open a DAC plant in West Texas in 2024.

    Microsoft, Occidental and billionaires Elon Musk and Bill Gates have all invested in DAC.

    Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s first chief environmental officer, said carbon removal markets need to mature significantly and the new U.S. price target can lead to “learning by doing”.

    Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund nonprofit said, “We don’t know which technology will work, frankly we don’t know if any of them will work, but we damn well should be investing and trying to get the price under $100.”

     

     

    Analysis: Glimmers of hope seen for global carbon market deal at COP26

    Cautious optimism has emerged that COP26 in Glasgow can clinch a global carbon market deal unlocking trillions of dollars of green investment, with even hold-out nation Brazil signaling a desire for compromise.

    With world leaders having left the UN climate summit after a flurry of speeches and announcements early this week, diplomats at COP26 are in the midst of two weeks of negotiations on how exactly to implement key parts of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

    Among the many details left open by the Paris deal six years ago, one of the most important and trickiest items still to be settled is how to fix rules on carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

    Article 6 aims to set the byzantine rules needed to govern global carbon markets and creates a new mechanism for offsetting carbon emissions. Settling the rules could help unleash trillions of dollars in investment.

     

     

    Many fear that if bad rules are agreed, carbon trading could amount to “greenwashing” – the appearance of action without actually reducing global emissions.

    Article 6 envisages linking the emissions trading schemes globally, allows for the international transfer of carbon credits and aims to establish a new mechanism to trade carbon credits from emissions reductions generated from low-carbon projects.

    Brazil is seen by some carbon market experts as the most outspoken hold-out on certain issues under Article 6 viewed by many nations as an impediment to a deal, notably on a specific rule for accounting for trades and honouring credits from an older emissions trading scheme.

    But Brazil’s top negotiator Leonardo Cleaver de Athayde told Reuters the country had come to COP with a desire to compromise.

    “We’re willing to make significant concessions, as long as, of course, our flexibility is also reciprocated by other delegations,” Athayde said, adding it would be a bad negotiating tactic to reveal what those concessions could be.

     

     

    “We can allow ourselves to be more optimistic this time around in respect of the Article 6 negotiations,” he said.

    Old credits

    Brazil disagrees with most of the world on how to account for trades between two countries, said Pedro Martins Barata, a carbon markets expert at Environmental Defense Fund and former negotiator from Portugal.

    The EU and other countries want to ensure there is no double-counting, whereby the emission reduction is counted both by the country that has bought the credit and the selling country where the emission reduction took place.

     

     

    But Brazil argues that not allowing the credit to be counted by the selling country unfairly penalizes it.

    Brazil also argues that old credits under the Kyoto Protocol, which preceded the Paris Agreement, should be carried forward and honoured under the new system.

    While India and China have made the same argument in the past, most countries say the huge number of Kyoto credits would flood the new market. Countries could then buy cheap credits rather than taking action to limit their emissions.

    “We’re willing to consider a partial carryover,” Athayde said.

    Brazil’s offer to possibly compromise on these issues means a deal could be reached if other countries meet it in the middle, said Yamide Dagnet, a former EU negotiator.

    “If Brazil truly comes with a view to compromise to get the deal, then there is hope,” Dagnet said.

     

    https://twitter.com/UN/status/1457107021472231429

     

    Lukewarm

    To be sure, Brazil’s issues are only a few of a laundry list of concerns held by all of the countries involved, with every word and turn of phrase in the agreement under intense scrutiny.

    Overall reaction to a first draft of the Article 6 rules issued on Monday was “overwhelmingly lukewarm,” Barata said, who observed some of the open proceedings.

     

     

    “But they were willing to work on the basis of that. At this stage of the negotiations that’s the best you can hope for,” he said.

    A second draft of the deal text, taking into account initial feedback from countries, was issued on Friday for delegations to pore over.

    Another disputed item is that the Paris Agreement stipulates that a share of the proceeds from the carbon market should be diverted to a fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change, the former negotiators said.

    The question about what percentage should be taken is more political than scientific, however, so progress can only be made next week when environment ministers arrive with the aim of closing a deal.

    “The progress we’ll see this week is narrowing and clarifying the options a bit further and making sure that those options are expressed as clearly as possible, and negotiating text so that the work of the ministers is easy,” said Jacob Werksman, a top EU negotiator.

     

     

    Negotiators also must settle how to deal with a demand from countries like New Zealand and Canada to address human rights issues in Article 6, according to carbon markets expert Brad Schallert with the non-profit World Wildlife Fund.

    That could draw objections from countries including Iran, China and Egypt, Schallert said.

    All countries will have to make concessions for a deal to be possible, Athayde said.

    “The best compromise solution or solutions, in my opinion, would be those that would leave the largest number of delegations possible dissatisfied,” he said. “You need to make sure everyone is walking away somewhat unhappy.”

    ***

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has joined the Global Methane Pledge at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, building on its position as one of the least methane intense nations in the world. You may read more here.

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