There are a lot of expectations from COP26 because due to the pandemic in 2020, the conference was missed. But much of the outcome will depend on agreement on international carbon markets. It is too early to talk about final decisions, but some activists express a general feeling that the situation with Article 6 negotiations is better than expected. So there is hope!
The topic of climate finance is also essential, for example:
- setting a new target for international climate assistance from developed countries. The previous one was $100 billion a year, and it could not be reached. At the same time, there is a consensus that the next one will be significantly larger;
- forms of financing – a large share is provided on normal terms, rather than in the form of grants or soft loans, which increases the debt of developing countries.
And many other nuances. In addition to negotiations, this Cop is rich in initiatives:
- Global Methane Initiative. Under the agreement, countries are committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030;
- The Powering Past Coal Alliance is not new, but 28 countries announced their accession at the conference. Coal abandonment is expected by 2035;
- Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero is a global coalition of leading financial institutions committed to supporting the decarbonization of the economy by 2050.
Of course, the main thing is that all this was not for the sake of ticking the box but resulted in real action. Speaking about negotiations, the second week will be more intense, but some activists hope that some crucial issues will be closed after its completion.
In addition to the climate conference, which brings together world leaders, an alternative conference is organized every year on the occasion of the COP, where the floor is given to representatives of the public. This year’s People`s Summit started on November 7 and took place online. You can attend all the events for free – just register, receive a letter with the entire program and a link to Zoom to each of the events and join everything that interests you.
This year’s climate conference COP26 is rich in essential statements by countries to achieve climate neutrality. E.g., more than a hundred countries have supported the initiative to create a more interconnected global grid. This initiative was called One Sun One World One Grid. The idea of the initiative is to design global power lines that cross borders and connect different time zones to transmit solar energy.
Further for its realization, it is necessary:
* develop action programs for global cooperation
* create working groups of interested governments, regulators, financiers, agencies, companies, legislators and researchers
The authors of the statement believe that implementing the One Sun One World One Grid will allow the world to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, accelerate the transition to clean energy and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This global action can stimulate green investment and create millions of jobs.
More about the initiative is here.
The scientists have rocked themselves in the chain. How climate demonstrations happened around the world
In Glasgow, scientists chained themselves, and in Melbourne, a staged koala funeral was held.
Tens of thousands of people worldwide staged actions and demonstrations on November 6 as part of the Global Day for Climate Justice. Actions demanding to take measures to protect the environment took place in the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium, The Guardian reports.
The critical protest was a demonstration in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, where the main climate summit, the 26th UN World Climate Conference (COP26), takes place from October 31 to November 12. The organizers of this far from the first protest in Glasgow had hoped that the demonstration would bring together 100,000 people. People from other cities in Scotland and the rest of Great Britain came to the march. For example, 18-year-old Alex Sidney came to Glasgow from Manchester, cycling 214 kilometers to prove that you can travel without carbon emissions.
Before the march into Glasgow, about 20 people in lab coats from the Scientist Rebellion chained each other and blocked the King George V Bridge, urging people to “rebel against the system that kills everything.”
"We´re taking this action to encourage others, scientists and all people, to rise up in rebellion against the system that is killing everything. This COP has failed, just like the previous 25 COPs have failed, and we cannot rely on our leaders to save us anymore." (3/3)
— Scientist Rebellion (@ScientistRebel1) November 6, 2021
The Scottish police confronted the protesters on the bridge, writes BBC News. During the march, participants with flags and banners marched through the streets. Some were holding posters like “I haven’t seen a polar bear, but I would like to” and “Every disaster film starts with someone ignoring a scientist.”
During the World Climate Conference, world leaders pledged to limit deforestation, gradually cut coal consumption, end funding for fossil fuels, and cut methane emissions by 30%. These measures are far from what countries need to do to
Reducing the rise in global average temperature within 1.5° C is the goal of the parties to the Paris Climate Agreement, adopted in 2015. 196 countries signed it.
Cop26: African nations seek talks on $700bn climate finance deal
Negotiators say funding is needed to speed up decarbonization and help developing countries to adapt, The Guardian states.
African nations want Cop26 to open discussions this week on a mega-financing deal that would channel $700bn (£520bn) every year from 2025 to help developing nations adapt to the climate crisis.
Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale, the chair of the African Group of Negotiators on climate change, said the increased finance was needed for the accelerated phase of decarbonization required to hold global heating to 1.5° C.
These funds would also be essential, he said, to cope with the impacts, including fiercer heat, widening droughts and more intense storms and floods, which are using up an increasingly large share of GDP. According to a recent study, some African nations are already spending more on climate adaptation than on healthcare and education.
“The work on this needs to start now,” said the climate diplomat from Gabon. “Talks about finance take time so we need to have a roadmap now with clear milestones on how to achieve targets after 2025 to ensure the money flows every year.”
It is also a question of justice. The climate problem was largely created by Europe, North America and east Asia, but the worst impacts are in the southern hemisphere. In 2009, rich nations promised $100bn a year, which was considered a downpayment and an essential gesture of trust.
Under the 2015 Paris climate accord, nations committed to restricting global temperature rises to ‘well below’ 2 C
Until now, they have welched on the deal by providing only 80% of what they had promised. For the African group, Glasgow is a time to make amends and lift the level of support in line with the greater urgency demanded by science.
The money is needed immediately, say negotiators. According to a recent study by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Cameron devotes close to 9% of its GDP on climate adaptation, Ethiopia 8%, Zimbabwe 9%, while Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ghana are all more than 7%. Even with these high shares of domestic funding, the study found a gap of about 80% between need and expenditure.
Gahouma-Bekale, who also serves as special adviser to the Gabonese president, Ali Bongo, said the opening phase of Cop26 had pushed the world in a more positive direction, but words needed to be backed by actions in the second week.
“We have received some assurance during the world leaders’ summit that they really want to close the gap and we have seen strong announcements on deforestation and methane,” he said. “What we want to see now is implementation. Only implementation can give us the assurance we need that we can keep warming to 1.5C.”
Africa accounts for less than 4% of historical global emissions, compared with 25% for China, 22% for the EU and 13% for China. But it has suffered many of the most devastating effects of climate disruption, recently including droughts in the Sahel and floods in the Nile delta. In future, it is expected to be among the most vulnerable regions of the world to heatwaves and crop failures.
Some African countries have shown leadership. Gabon is among a handful of nations that already have a carbon-negative economy because its vast tropical forests in the Congo Basin absorb more greenhouse gases than its factories, cars and cities emit. It has recently passed an ambitious climate law that aims to ensure the country remains dependant on forests and agriculture rather than the fossil fuel industry. To achieve this goal, it needs outside support so that the government can continue to raise living standards.
Many African nations depend on coal for electricity and did not join a declaration this week by more than 40 countries to quit this most polluting of fossil fuels. Gahouma-Bekale said this pledge was an important step forward, but developing nations would need more time.
“This is very good news for the world,” he said. “If we want to succeed with the Paris goals, then we must phase out all fossil fuels, and coal is among them. But our situation in Africa is different. We are still on our way to be developed. We can’t drastically stop coal and oil. For now we need to use it to eradicate poverty and access to energy. We will need support for the transition. And we need to be flexible. For five to 10 years, we must do the two together [coal and renewables] so the transition can be smooth.”
That transition will depend on a flow of funding. African nations insist wealthy countries are held as rigorously to account on their finance promises as they are on emissions reductions. That means regular reporting on the levels of support provided, needed and received.
“What we want to achieve at this Cop is a transparency framework with strong rules on accounting,” said Gahouma-Bekale.
Cop26: what’s still to be resolved in the week ahead
The ratchet issue is among several sticking points still to be finalized as negotiators return to the Cop26 table, The Guardian states.
Countries that have failed to come up with national plans on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with limiting temperature rise to 1.5° C must be forced back to the negotiating table every year from now on, poor countries have said ahead of crunch talks at the Cop26 climate summit.
Current pledges are inadequate and would lead to heating of 2.7° C, according to UN calculations. But under the Paris agreement, countries are only required to ratchet up their pledges – known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, with the next deadline falling in 2025. Developing countries say this is much too late.
Lia Nicholson, lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, told the Guardian: “Major emitters have to step up their climate action now, not in 2025, backed by concrete steps like ending fossil fuel subsidies in the next few years. Scaled up, accessible climate finance needs to happen now for more ambitious climate action in developing countries, through grants and not debt. It’s time to get to work and live up to our grand pledges.”
However, the UK’s environment secretary, George Eustice, suggested in an interview with Times Radio on Sunday that a commitment on bringing countries back to the table with fresh pledges would not be included in the final decision from Cop26.
Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who oversaw the Paris agreement, told the Guardian that countries returning every year was possible under the Paris agreement, and a plan to do so should be agreed in Glasgow.
“The most vulnerable countries have called for an annual reporting on increased ambition for all governments, especially the major emitting countries. This could be done as a new regular component of the yearly Cops, and is allowed under the Paris agreement,” she said. “[This] should be part of the agreed outcome of Cop26.”
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, made up of 55 developing countries most affected by the consequences of the climate crisis, has also called for a “Glasgow Emergency Pact” from the summit, which would include a requirement from all countries for annual reporting on emission reductions, on a voluntary basis.
“The climate emergency requires an annual review, and not just every five years,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh.
Ed Miliband, Labour’s shadow business secretary, and a veteran of the 2009 Copenhagen Cop, added: “If George Eustice represents the position of the government, it is deeply worrying and cannot be allowed to stand. All the evidence suggests we will leave Glasgow with a chasm between where we are and where we need to be to halve global emissions this decade and keep 1.5° C alive. If the world decides not to revisit commitments on halving emissions until 2025, it will deliver a devastating blow to the prospects of keeping 1.5° C alive.”
Some others have estimated that heating could be reduced to 1.9° C or 1.8° C, given other pledges made outside the Paris agreement, but these are controversial as they rely on many untested assumptions about countries fulfilling voluntary, and sometimes vague, promises. Only pledges made through the UN can be counted on, developing countries insist.
The discussion over when countries should return to the table – known as the acceleration, or ratchet, issue – is one of the key sticking points to a potential deal that the UK presidency is trying to put together in the second week of the Glasgow talks.
The first week was dominated by announcements of deals on preserving forests, galvanising climate finance from the private sector, and phasing out coal. The second week will focus on some of the hardest elements of the talks, including issues around the ratchet and:
Regulations on how countries measure and report on their emissions.
Whether, and how, carbon trading can play a role in how countries meet their commitments, under article 6 of the Paris agreement.
How countries can be helped to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis, and how they can receive financial help for any impacts too great to be adapted to – known as loss and damage.
However, cracks are already appearing in the goodwill and constructive approach that appeared to characterise the first week of the talks.
Greenpeace accused Saudi Arabia of leading efforts to ensure that a commitment on accelerating the review of NDCs was off the table. Jennifer Morgan, executive director, said this was familiar behavior from the oil producer: “Saudi Arabia is at the chess board, manipulating the pieces in an effort to stop an outcome that keeps 1.5° C within reach. Other governments now need to isolate the Saudi delegation if they want this Cop to succeed for everyone, not just fossil fuel interests.”
Mohamed Adow, director of the Power Shift Africa thinktank, warned that developing countries would not accept a poor outcome. He criticised rich countries for failing to deliver $100bn to poor countries in climate finance, a target that was originally set for 2020 and now looks likely to be met only in 2023.
He warned: “The mood among developing countries is sour. Real progress needs to be made on adaptation funding and the setting up of a loss and damage mechanism to address those growing needs. Unless we get that developing countries will wonder why they bothered coming.”
Cop26 legitimacy questioned as groups excluded from crucial talks
Communities and groups say being shut out of key negotiations will have dire consequences for millions, The Guardian reports.
The legitimacy of the Cop26 climate summit has been called into question by civil society participants who say restrictions on access to negotiations are unprecedented and unjust.
As the Glasgow summit enters its second week, observers representing hundreds of environmental, academic, climate justice, indigenous and women’s rights organisations warn that excluding them from negotiating areas and speaking to negotiators could have dire consequences for millions of people.
Observers act as informal watchdogs of the summit – the eyes and ears of the public during negotiations to ensure proceedings are transparent and reflect the concerns of communities and groups most likely to be affected by decisions.
But their ability to observe, interact and intervene in negotiations on carbon markets, loss and damage and climate financing has been obstructed during the first week, the Guardian has been told.
“Civil society voices are critical to the outcome of Cop, but we’ve not been able to do our jobs. If participation and inclusion are the measure of legitimacy, then we’re on very shaky grounds,” said Tasneem Essop, the executive director of Climate Action Network (CAN), which represents more than 1,500 organisations in over 130 countries.
CAN is one of two environmental “constituencies” – loose networks of NGOs including youth groups, trade unions, indigenous peoples, business, agriculture, and gender – recognised by the UNFCCC.
Gina Cortes, a member of the Women and Gender Constituency, representing women’s groups, said they also had to “call out the deep inequities and deep injustices of this Cop”.
“There are thousands of activists who should be here but who are missing and there is a shocking degree of closing space for civil society and frontline voices … it is offensive, unjust and unacceptable,” said Cortes.
In the run-up to Cop26, the UK government had boasted that Glasgow would be the most inclusive summit on record.
In reality, about two-thirds of civil society organizations who usually send delegates to Cop have not traveled to Glasgow due to “vaccine apartheid”, changing travel rules, extortionate travel costs and Britain’s hostile immigration system.
Observers say the situation was most critical during the two-day leaders’ summit at the start of last week, when they were limited to one or two tickets per constituency despite six negotiating rooms operating simultaneously. In addition, work stations, offices and restaurants were also cordoned off, preventing observers from having face-to-face contact with negotiators.
“The level of restrictions was unprecedented,” said Sebastian Duyck, from the Centre for International Environmental Law. “It’s alarming, because the relationships we build at the start of Cop are crucial to the work we do after … the limited participation absolutely undermines the credibility of Cop.”
Access has improved since the ticketing system was lifted, with one observer per constituency now technically allowed in each meeting room – if there’s enough space according to social distancing rules. But their ability to participate meaningfully remains limited.
Observers are particularly concerned about negotiations over carbon trading protocols, as governments and corporations look for ways to achieve net-zero commitments using offsets.
“There’s a real risk that decisions made in these rooms will impact human rights in the most dramatic fashion, like we saw happen under the carbon trading mechanism under Kyoto. If we get a bad rule, it’s almost impossible to fix afterwards. The scale of carbon markets means there’s a greater threat to communities,” said Duyck.
This is a considerable worry for indigenous communities, who comprise 6% of the global population but protect 80% of the planet’s biodiversity. “Without our voices this risks the creation of rules that will continue to violate human, territorial and spiritual rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Eriel Deranger, an observer for Indigenous Climate Action.
The UK government points to the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, and says access has been boosted by the new online platform that has so far been used by 12,000 people.
But for some, trying to follow what’s going on virtually, technical glitches have made access a “logistical nightmare,” said Hellen Kaneni, regional Africa coordinator for the international nonprofit Corporate Accountability. “Cop has never been credible but this year it’s much worse, access has been limited in so many ways, it’s horrible.”
Aderonke Ige from Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, who made it to Glasgow from Nigeria for her first Cop despite the Covid restrictions, said she felt “disappointed and unfulfilled” after failing to get online and being denied access to the meeting rooms and offices of the African group negotiators.
A spokesperson said: “The UK is committed to hosting an inclusive Cop. Ensuring that the voices of those most affected by climate change are heard is a priority for the Cop26 presidency, and if we are to deliver for our planet, we need all countries and civil society to continue demonstrating their ideas and ambition in Glasgow.”
The success of this Cop will be judged over years to come. But according to Nathan Thanki from Demand Climate Justice (the second environmental constituency), the summit’s legitimacy had been seriously undermined by restrictions in access and how rich countries had used Cop26 to make headline-grabbing announcements outside the UNFCCC’s pledge and review framework.
“It’s impossible to monitor these announcements, which means there’s no accountability to civil society or other countries. That’s the sorry situation at this summit.”
One hundred thousand participants gathered in the climate march in Glasgow at COP26: read about the seventh day of COP26 here.