One of the most awaited climates meets has been concluded. The world was pinning its hope in COP26 for a more rigid step towards mitigation of climate catastrophe, and now when the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties has wrapped up, was it a success?
Well, the answer is not purely white or black, but rather, analysts and environmentalists around the globe have mixed reactions to the question.
COP26: The Long-Awaited Climate Summit
The COP26 climate summit has been a rollercoaster ride with numerous representatives rendering high-octane promises and greenhouse emission cutting plans.
A dizzying flurry of pledges to phase out coal-fired power, curb methane emissions, and end overseas fossil fuel financing has begun to push the Paris Agreement toward its most ambitious goal: limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
To date, heat waves, storms, and floods have increased in frequency, intensity, and severity as a result of a rise of 1.1 degrees Celsius. However, the University of Melbourne researchers found warming could peak at 1.9C and drop to about 1.8C at the end of the century, under the assumption of nations’ less concrete long-term commitments such as Australia’s net-zero by 2050 goal and India’s by 2070 goal.
Climate Financing: A Compensation
Negotiators are trying to find the right balance between the trade of carbon credits to slash out greenhouse gas emissions for years. But, on the other hand, the developing along with most of the victim nations, have put forth the demand of loss and damage payments from the historical polluters to help their countries recover from the damage of extreme climate events and develop more eco-friendly societies.
The two-week conference was a major win in resolving the issues of the carbon market. Still, only a little was done to alleviate the vulnerable countries’ promises of climate financing from the richer countries (who are also the main polluters).
With the Glasgow Climate Pact, wealthy nations promised but gave no assurances that the poorest countries would receive more of the financial aid they have long been promised. Small island nations had asked wealthy nations to provide two-fold funding for climate adaptation by 2025 compared to 2019.
Alok Sharma, the British COP26 president, was seemingly emotional over the negligence of victim nations’ vulnerability. He sounded the gavel to signal that no vetoes had been raised after the talks had continued into Saturday, overnight, and overtime. In response to the anger of the poor nations over the last-minute change, Sharma said in a breaking voice, “I apologize for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry.“
The End of the Coal Era?
The developing world argues rich nations, whose historical emissions drove global warming, must fund their efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and help in adapting the vulnerable to climate impacts that are becoming more severe.
As the negotiations were winding down, China and other coal-dependent nations backed India’s decision to reject a clause requiring the “phase-out” of coal-fired power and voted against a clause. An envoy from China, India, the United States, and the European Union hastily amended the clause so that countries are asked to reduce coal use (“phase down”) instead of cutting it down to zero.
But, the rich countries in Europe and small island nations, as well as those still in development, were outraged by the single-word change.
In order to achieve a deal, nations like India and China, which depend on fossil fuels for economic growth and to alleviate poverty, need to balance their demands.
COP26: The Foggy Answer
The aim to unite nearly 200 countries and reach a point of understanding to take action and solve the present climate crisis, overseen for many years, is definitely accelerating. Paris Climate Agreement kick-started the vehicle of lowering down the global temperature threshold to 2C, and COP26, without a doubt, has fueled it to accelerated speed.
Diplomacy in climate change is an incremental process. Several incremental gains have left many hoping for greater success in the coming years, possibly putting an end to the question of “how much” and starting questioning “how.” For the first time in COP, it called out for limiting unabated coal power as well as subsidizing inefficient fossil fuels.
Despite progress on climate finance, the ambitious target of hitting $100 billion annually by 2020 has yet to be reached. Also, little has been accomplished on damage and loss.
Vulnerable countries demand that businesses responsible for global emissions be compensated for their losses and damage caused by climate change (called “climate finance”), as well as compensation for the damage they’re experiencing from climate change (called “loss and damage”) caused by rich nations.