Is COP26 the turning point that will see the demise of the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in a few years?
It is a likely scenario. I’ve noticed how conversations and debates are now less about climate change and more about how developed nations want to change the global energy generation landscape and end-user power usage. The wording of agreements remains a sticking point and financing the commitments, but COP appears to have lost the plot overall.
Much has already been written about what transpired at COP26. All very informative, but words failed me on learning how the COP President, Alok Sharma, was brought to tears at the last-minute weakening of the text by India.
Should the world now blame India, a developing nation, for wanting to do what’s best for its industrial development? Or should we address how developed countries can work around this, considering their decades of fortune gained from fossil fuels?
The Glasgow Climate Pact urges developed countries to increase funding for developing countries to around $40 billion annually by 2025. The rich must commit to helping the poor. But urging the rich to act on this need has never been impactful.
COP26: The wording is important
The text in question in the final agreement was the call to “phasing-out of unabated coal”, which pertains to coal used without carbon capture and storage technology.
The amended text now reads “phasing-down”. Does this make a difference to coal-powered countries? – yes. But it doesn’t make a difference in the greater scheme of climate change because there is no date by when it must be achieved.
In a synopsis of the proceedings, Michael Jacobs, professor of political economy at SPERI, University of Sheffield, explained that the agreement requires rich countries to “at least double” funds for adaptation, which means coping with present climate change impacts such as floods and drought. This is what poor countries need the most; presently, it’s only 25% of finance flows.
Jacobs adds that in total, “developed countries have resisted the demand that they make up their failure to hit $100bn by 2020 by providing more than that in 2024 and 2025. The text sticks at $100bn a year. Beyond 2025 there will be a new process to define how much they should pay.”
What we have achieved is a greater level of public awareness. For that, I am grateful.
What about COP27?
In 2022, Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt will play host to COP27. Originally, Glasgow’s COP26 was to take place in 2020 but was postponed because of COVID-19.
The 2020 gap year was detrimental to negotiations, which indicates that this yearly meeting of minds has relevance. Besides debates about who is to finance what, and the measures needed to reduce carbon emissions, what would you like to see addressed at COP27?
As a social, economic and environmental threat, climate change has already caused loss and damage. It will, therefore, be necessary that COP27 takes decisive steps on a loss and damage fund. I believe addressing this issue must be high on the COP27 agenda.
Until next week.
Editor, ESI Africa