COP26: The Hits & Misses
The final deal at COP26 moves countries closer to controlling global temperature rise but falls short on climate finance.
Mumbai: In the Glasgow Climate Pact at the 26th climate summit, developed countries agreed to double funding for climate adaptation but did not increase climate action finance from the $100 billion a year promised to developing countries in 2009, says an analysis by the GSCC Network of communications professionals in the field of climate, energy and nature.
Historical emitters have also not agreed to pay poor countries as remedy for the damages from extreme weather events caused by global heating.
The pact, announced on November 13, brings countries closer to keeping global temperature rise under 1.5°C by 2100, and has closed some loopholes on carbon markets that let polluters continue emitting greenhouse gases, and set in place a reporting mechanism to ensure greater transparency in countries' progress on their climate pledges.
Specific agreements on forests, coal, cars, methane and a $24 billion agreement to stop overseas fossil fuel finance, all signed at COP26, can make significant strikes towards cutting emissions, the pact said.
Here's a summary of the hits and misses, and what they mean, explained with charts and graphs.
Finance: By 2025, developed countries will double finance for adaptation
Developed countries' pledge to double finance towards climate adaptation by 2025 over the 2019 level is a good start, experts say, as currently less than a quarter of climate finance is spent on it.
Climate action has two parts: mitigation, which requires countries to cut back on fossil fuels, protect and expand forests, and promote clean infrastructure; and adaptation, which includes building critical infrastructure to deal with extreme climate events such as cyclonic storms, droughts and floods. Developed countries had demanded that climate finance be divided equally between the two.
As for the $100 billion for climate action per year pledged in 2009 that has not yet been delivered, the pact urged developed countries to "fully deliver" it "urgently through 2025".
The $100 billion target itself is now inadequate -- developing countries are estimated to need $600 billion a year from 2020 to 2050 to decarbonise just their energy sectors. Rich countries had provided only about 65% of the $100 billion, on average, between 2013 and 2019, 80% of it as high-interest loans, and not grants, indebting poorer countries.
Vulnerable countries had sought at least $500 billion between 2020 and 2024. India alone had demanded $1 trillion by 2030. This finance is critical to repair global trust, India's lead negotiator had said on November 8.
Loss and damage: Rich countries won't pay, yet
India, Indonesia and Bangladesh and other countries in the G77 grouping, as well as China, had called for a "Glasgow loss and damage facility" through which historical emitters would pay poor countries to remedy the loss and damage caused by extreme weather events such as cyclones. No deal has been reached on this, though the next COP in Cairo in 2022 will focus on this.
India 5th Most Vulnerable To Climate Change Fallouts, Its Poor The Worst Hit
Source: Global Climate Risk Index
Note: The index ranked 181 countries in 2018, 124 in 2017, 182 in 2016, 135 in 2015 and 138 in 2014.
Countries did agree to operationalise the Santiago Network of Loss and Damage set up in 2019, at the COP25 in Madrid, to provide technical support to developing countries to avert the damage caused by extreme weather. The deal says the "Santiago network will be provided with funds to support technical assistance for the implementation of relevant approaches to avert, minimize and address loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change in developing countries" but it does not specify the amount and nature of the funding.
Carbon markets: Some loopholes fixed
The Glasgow pact has closed some of the loopholes in the Clean Development Mechanism for carbon trading, such as one that allowed double counting of carbon credits for reduced emissions. The pact says that the countries that generate carbon credits by reducing emissions will decide whether to authorise them for sale to other nations or to count them towards their own climate targets -- they cannot do both.
A carbon market allows countries and companies that are unable to meet their emission reduction targets to buy carbon 'credits' from those that have reduced theirs to earn tradable credits.
The earlier CDM that allowed countries and companies to invest in green projects in developing countries to earn carbon credits had been called a flawed system as it led to double counting as well as corruption and human rights violations in developing nations.
Paris Rulebook: More transparency, NDCs to be updated sooner
Paris rulebook guidelines on transparency and accountability hold countries accountable to their pledges (NDCs, or nationally determined contributions) and on reporting updates on their emissions. By 2024, a transparency and accountability mechanism under the Paris Agreement will be set up. This means that future emissions reductions will be assessed based on a 2024 baseline.
In a new move, the Glasgow pact asks major emitters of greenhouse gases, such as the US, EU and China, to explain to the UN, in 12 months, how their economy-wide policies and plans are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The pact calls upon all countries to raise climate targets to align with the 1.5°C goal by 2022.
The NGO Climate Action Tracker had reported in November that the 2030 NDCs put forth by countries were inadequate and, taking into account long-term net-zero targets, would lead to an increase in world temperature by 2.1°C by 2100, higher than the 1.5°C cap.
Projected Temperature Under New & Updated NDCs
Source: Climate Action Tracker
By October 2021, more than 140 countries--nearly 70% of Paris Agreement signatories that account for 57% of global emissions--had submitted their updated NDC targets. India revised a list of targets in the 'high-level segment', including boosting the share of India's electricity generated from non-fossil fuel sources from 40% to 50% by the end of the decade.
Contrary to the Paris Agreement's requirement that countries enhance their NDCs in successive updates, several governments only resubmitted the same targets as in 2015 (Australia, Indonesia, Russia), or submitted even less ambitious targets (Brazil, Mexico). Some have not made new submissions at all (Turkey and Kazakhstan).
Fossil fuel phase 'down' not 'out'
Negotiations had reportedly stumbled on a 'phase out' of coal and fossil fuels, as India opposed this wording and asked for a 'phase down' instead. Small island states, such as the Maldives and Mauritius, and countries including Switzerland and Mexico disagreed with this change, calling it a "bad economic choice."
As the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, phasing out coal is crucial for limiting global heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. In 2019, coal-fired power generation was responsible for 30% of global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Countries will present plans on sector-specific emissions at COP27 in Egypt next year.
During the negotiations, 450 financial institutions in 45 countries said they would invest $130 trillion for clean energy and net-zero emissions under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). In another joint statement, the UK, US and 20 other countries said they would end international public finance for fossil fuels by 2022. Also, 42 countries and 32 companies have signed COP26 president Alok Sharma's call to end new coal plants and for a just and inclusive transition to clean energy for communities.
Methane emissions: Some curbs announced but biggest emitters not in
Commitments announced during the 12 days of negotiations, before the final deal, had logged some progress on cutting methane emissions, phasing out fossil fuels and coal, saving forests and transitioning to electric vehicles.
As many as 103 countries have signed the Global Methane Pledge that targets a 30% cut in methane emissions by 2030 from 2020 levels, but India, China and Russia have not signed the pledge. Reducing methane emissions can keep us on track for reducing global temperatures by 0.2°C by 2050, we had reported.
Electric vehicles: India signs pledge to go all-electric by 2030
India has said it will move to electric vehicles by 2030, while more than 100 entities, including countries, such as Kenya and the Netherlands, signed the Glasgow Accord on Zero Emissions Vehicles to phase out new fossil fuel vehicles by 2040. But, the impact of this will be limited as the world's top three auto markets--the US, China and Japan--with two-third of global car sales, have not signed it.
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