COP26: EU, US and UK hail progress on Glasgow Convention while environmentalists criticize lack of ambition | Climate change | Climate and environment

The final agreement for the Glasgow climate summit doesn’t quite satisfy anyone and since it closed on Saturday night there have been mixed reactions. Among those who prefer to focus on progress are the governments of the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom, which was the host country for the COP26 presidency. The Vice-President of the Commission and the chief European negotiator, Frans Timmermans, summed it up as follows: “I firmly believe that the text agreed upon reflects a balance between the interests of all parties and allows us to act with urgency that is essential to our survival.” However, these assessments face the majority of environmental groups that criticized during the summit and after the final agreement the lack of ambition of countries to implement immediate measures to confront the climate crisis.

Agreements within these UN summits must come unanimously from the 196 nations present, which tend to hold up these appointments, as happened again as of Saturday night. Another stumbling block was the mention of fossil fuel assistance and an end to coal use. Intense discussion of these two points takes place at the G-20 and G7 meetings every time combating climate change is addressed, but it is the first time that both issues are mentioned in the final declaration of the Climate Summit. Finally, countries most dependent on coal and some of the largest oil and gas producers have been able to soften the language of the final declaration, and instead of calling for the elimination of coal plants, a gradual reduction of this type of energy is required.. energy.

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This last-minute change did not satisfy many countries or environmental groups. Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan acknowledged Saturday that the reference in the text was weak, but added: “Its just being there is progress.” The Spanish Vice President for Environmental Transformation, Teresa Ribera, goes further and believes: “It is true that the agreement adopted in Glasgow does not include ending coal but reducing it, but trees do not prevent us from seeing the forest. For the first time something like this is included in the UN Convention affecting 196 countries, plus it was agreed to end fossil fuel subsidies.” In addition, Ribera considers these signals to send a signal “so strong that it would allow this decade to be one of the most widespread fossil fuel pushbacks.” “There hasn’t been such a strong signal in the sector and there has been little response,” he adds.

This closing statement from Glasgow also acknowledges that planned efforts to curb this decade’s warming are not enough. In addition, countries included in the text a request to increase their climate plans in 2022 to fill this gap. It sets out what to do if global warming is no more than 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, which is the most ambitious goal of the current 2015 Paris Agreement: the sum of the collective efforts of all nations should make carbon dioxide emissions 45% lower by 2030 than they were in 2010.

Scientific data

Just including that 45% is considered progress, because it sets a very specific target for countries to adjust their targets to a specific percentage. The figure comes from a report presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the group of international experts that lays the foundations for scientific knowledge about climate change, in 2018. At the summit that year in the Polish city of Katowice, they tried to get it. To join the references to the conclusions of that study and 45%, but it was impossible due to the embargo practiced by countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States, whose president was Donald Trump at the time.

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Three years later, in the Glasgow Final Declaration, the IPCC was placed at the center and its reports taken “as a reference point for policy decisions,” said Francisco Dublas-Reyes, a researcher at the National Center for Supercomputing in Barcelona and a member of the expert group. This scientist considers this to be one of the most positive outcomes of COP26 because data and numbers are required to serve as a reference for achieving goals. But he adds: “It is very positive that 45% appears, but there is another thing that it is possible to achieve. Given the obligations that countries have, the calculations are not working.”

There, with these insufficient efforts, it is precisely where many environmental groups focus their criticism, which have described the agreement as “disappointing”. For ecologists at work, the text approved in Glasgow “does not meet expectations of desired ambition” and “leaves the vast majority of countries unsatisfied” as it does not offer solutions “to the consequences of global warming already suffering millions of people around the world.” planet.” Irene Rubiera, a spokeswoman for Labor Environmentalists who followed the negotiations from Glasgow, said the agreement reached “does not generate a legal bond, an obligation for countries to act” and is limited to expressing “calls, recommendations and requests” without specifying “clear procedures, times and a funding commitment.” true “.

“Blah, blah, blah COP we’re also seeing in the government of Spain,” said Tatiana Nuño, head of climate change at Greenpeace Spain. “Good words will not save us from the climate crisis, we need urgent actions and actions to rapidly transform the sectors responsible for climate change and abandon fossil fuels in a planned but swift manner,” he said. Friends of the Earth also criticized the summit’s lack of ambition and climate justice, which in its view is moving away from the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and condemning “more” the countries of the South. In addition, the most polluting nations are accused of lobbying to prevent progress in eliminating fossil fuels. In short, as Mar Asuncion, of the World Wide Fund for Nature in Spain, summed up: “There is progress, but we need to step up the speed with which we are going towards decarbonization.”

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