Gaia Movement Summing up Results of COP26
The Gaia Movement has followed the 2 week COP26 conference online in November 2021 in Glasgow Scotland. It has been a conference with intense meetings, negotiations and workshops - many people were gathered most inside but also many outside.
November 6th was “Global Day for Climate Justice” and 250,000 people gathered in Glasgow to demonstrate and to put pressure on the politicians and others working inside:
The pressure is on - it is now or never. The climate crisis is at “Code Red” threatening the very existence of humanity and nature.
World leaders signed a new climate change agreement. While some countries committed to more ambitious cuts to heat-trapping pollution, many nations did not agree to cut emissions fast enough for the world to avoid the worst damage from climate-driven storms, heat waves and droughts.
The agreement is built on compromises on many fronts, including a last-minute change by India to weaken efforts to” phase-out” coal. It was changed to “phase-down” coal. Still, it is new ground in creating a worldwide consensus to transition away from fossil fuels and to speed up countries' ambitions to cut emissions faster.
Emissions need to fall around 45% by 2030 in order to prevent by 2100 from heating up more than 1.5 Celsius degrees (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Instead, emissions are expected to rise almost 14% over the next nine years.
All nations were agreeing to do what it takes “to keep 1.5 goal alive." It is a question what that means.
Clear for all is that the poor countries are suffering the most.
For some Island nations it is a matter of survival.
Here are some of the commitments:
Compensation for climate change related “Loss and damage:”
The poor countries are facing intense droughts and changed in rain pattern and many other consequences already. They are suffering from a problem they have done little to cause. They proposed, that wealthier countries compensate them for climate change-related "loss and damage."
The U.S., Japan, Norway, Sweden and others announced new climate finance pledges this year, but the $100 billion goal from previous conference is still elusive and likely won't be met until 2022 or 2023. That amount is also far below the need. A U.N. report estimates that funding for climate adaptation should be 5 to 10 times greater than what's being spent now.
In the final compromise, countries agreed to begin a two-year work plan ending in 2024 to settle on how climate finance will ramp up to meet the needs of the most vulnerable nations in the future.
In the meantime, the wealthier countries agreed to collectively double funding for climate adaptation projects by 2025.
The wealthier countries failed to meet their commitment to deliver $100 billion annually starting in 2020 and at the same time they pay hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for fossil fuels each year.
A few countries promised to increase funding. One of them was Japan. They pledged an additional $2 billion per year for the next 5 year and Italy pledged an extra $1.4 per year for 5 years. Climate finance is expected to be included in the final COP26 agreement.
But in negotiations, the idea ran into a brick wall. Wealthier countries, including the U.S., didn't support it.
Methane - cut 30% in 2030:
More than 100 countries signed a pledge to cut methane emissions 30% by 2030. The potent greenhouse gas has 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide when first emitted into the atmosphere.
Deforestation - halt and reverse 2030:
More than 130 countries agreed to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, including the heavily-forested nations of Brazil and Russia.
US-China agreement - boosted cooperation:
US and China the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases agreed to boost cooperation on combating climate change over the next decade. They said they will work together on increasing the use of renewable energy, regulations, and carbon capture.
Zero-Emission Vehicles 2035 and 2040:
More than thirty countries including US, Japan, Germany and China, many states and cities and several automobile companies including Ford, GM, Volvo and Mercedes agreed to work to guarantee the new cars and pickup trucks sold are zero emission by 2035 in leading markets and 2040 globally.
Coal, oil and gas must stay underground by 2050:
Scientists warn, that to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (we are at 1.1 now), at least 90% of coal reserves and 60% of oil and gas reserves must stay underground by 2050. Only a few countries, states and cities have pledged here. Denmark and Costa Rica have been in the lead followed by Sweden, France, Greenland, Wales, Ireland, Quebec and California. None of the really big players.
Firms’ Net Zero Pledges 2050:
Just want to mention that 450 banks, insurance companies, pension funds and other firms have collectively managed $130 trillion and committed to use their funds to reach net-zero emission by 2050
Added up all the pledges will not reduce emissions fast enough to keep the world within the crucial limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, as agreed to in the Paris climate talks.
Instead, the world would be on track for 1.8 degrees Celsius of warming, according to an analysis from the International Energy Agency.
1.8 degrees Celsius is an improvement over the previous pledges. But it depends entirely on countries following through on their promises, and many have provided few concrete details.
Even with past commitments, many governments haven't backed up words with actions. Based on what countries are currently doing, the world is headed toward 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming.
In the end of the conference, the final agreement asks the countries to revisit and strengthen" their plans by 2022. There will be a meeting again in 2022 in Egypt.
World leaders have met 26 times since the 1990s to work out complex climate agreements. It is the first time the agreement has mentioned to stop using fossil fuels - phase out (or phase down).
Oil-and-coal-producing countries, like Saudi Arabia and Australia, have historically objected to any mention of “phasing them out” until now.
So, this is a step forward - even though we do not have time for these baby steps.