Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, said: “If the success of an international agreement can be measured by its ability to disappoint everyone equally, then the Glasgow agreement can can be seen as a victory,” Hannah Cloke, professor of hydrology at the University of Reading, said in a statement. “From a scientific standpoint, we’re back to a position where science is getting clearer but politics remains unsettlingly murky.”
Rhetoric versus action
There are few diplomatic meetings in the world that are as painful as the Conference of the Parties, or the COPs on climate. They require the consensus of nearly 200 countries – some rich, others poor. Some are petrochemical, others are carbon neutral. The negotiations turned ugly in the end. There are always complaints from smaller countries about bullying by larger nations. It’s amazing how they can decide on anything.
It only takes a country that opposes a measure to see it on the precautionary floor. If that country becomes big and powerful, that’s a possibility above all else.
For example, only one country – India – resisted drastic language of “a gradual phase-out” of coal and fossil fuel subsidies so that the country would be scaled down to “step-down”.
Despite Biden’s opening offer, the US delegation was among those opposed to the creation of a new “loss and damage” fund that would involve rich countries paying for the effects of climate change in the most vulnerable countries – money can help people rebuild their homes later. a destructive flood or storm.
The spirit of the fund is to hold developed nations financially responsible for their larger historical role in the climate crisis.
A US official told CNN the country opposes the loss fund. On Saturday, US climate envoy John Kerry told reporters the US supported such a fund in principle, but said there weren’t enough details – especially on liability. – for the United States to fully support the agreement. A source familiar with the negotiations told CNN that the EU is also against it, and an EU spokesman declined to comment.
It is not surprising that there is only a vague reference to scaling money and no actual funds, which is a great disappointment for countries on the front lines of the climate crisis.
Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International said the summit’s outcome was “an insult to the millions of people whose lives are being torn apart by the climate crisis.”
“There’s a lot of hope that COP26 will ultimately provide real support to communities, farmers, women and girls, who need to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of climate catastrophe… but The wealthy nations most responsible for our warming world – especially the US – have covered their ears and hung the hardest hit outside to dry.”
But none of these examples mean that COP is useless or inefficient. Completely opposite.
Developing countries ended up empty-handed without a damage aid fund, but Lola Vallejo, climate program director at the IDDRI policy research institute, says the reality is that the issue gets a lot of attention. was a “major victory over a taboo.”
“You could say it’s starting to crack. Now there’s a broader dialogue,” Vallejo said. “It’s a very sensitive question for developed countries, because the key question behind this is the question of liability… ‘will I be sued for emissions?'”
While the final language of the Glasgow Pact does not reflect the sense of urgency needed to get real motion on the climate crisis, it is an indication that nations are strongholds on fossil fuels. can normally be bent.
A matter of responsibility
One shortcoming of the COP process is the lack of accountability. Even with great progress, like the 2015 Paris Agreement, many countries are falling short of their promises, with little to no recourse. For example, Australia updated its emissions plan last year before the deadline set by the Paris Agreement. Technically it follows the rules but it doesn’t really raise its ambitions, that’s the whole point of the updates.
“France is not a signatory to the statement on ending fossil fuel financing abroad, it is planning to amend it next year,” Vallejo said. “But because of pressure and NGOs calling them out, France changed its mind and signed this on the last day of the COP.”
“COP is like having a flashlight in your face, because there’s so much media attention and activism all around,” Vallejo said.
Bob Ward, an expert on climate policy and communications at the London School of Economics, says that although the process is complicated and slow, a worldwide meeting is needed. There is no substitute for multilateral negotiations.
Perhaps the most important change in Glasgow is an article asking countries to join COP27 next year in Egypt with updated plans to cut emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, they will only be obligated to do so by 2025. In other words, this will accelerate action by three years.
Whether or not Glasgow succeeds will depend on whether countries like Australia actually come to COP27 with more ambitious plans.
Climate justice can come in court
Where climate accountability can happen is the national courts of the world. After a country ratifies a treaty like the Paris Agreement – as most countries do now – the treaty becomes legally binding. And while countries don’t sue each other in international courts, people can sue their own governments or businesses for lack of action on the climate crisis. Armed with arrangements like Paris will help, and there have been successful challenges.
In 2018, a court in The Hague ordered the Netherlands to cut greenhouse gas emissions faster than previously planned, to protect its citizens from climate change. The ruling forced the government to suspend some major construction projects and quickly adopt new targets to align with the Paris Agreement.
Lawsuits can address climate change to some extent, but the ultimate solution is to ask the major emitters to decarbonise.
“We will stop global warming when we have zero global emissions,” Ward said. That means everyone has to go there. “Rich countries have to take the lead, but there is no scenario in which any major country can’t achieve zero emissions and climate change will be addressed.”
Getting everyone on the same page requires major compromises, which can be difficult when negotiators from oil-dependent nations face those from small sinking islands. when sea level rises.
One of the most memorable moments from COP26 was when Tuvalu’s foreign minister, Simon Kofe, addressed the conference in a video, standing knee-deep in seawater to show the island nation located in Thai Binh. How his ocean is being affected by climate. crisis.
This is why COP is so important, says Vallejo.
“It provides a moment when the most vulnerable countries can share the stage with countries responsible for responding to climate change,” she said.
“Usually, the big decisions are made in the G7 or the G20. And here you have a forum that focuses solely on climate issues and is based on the principles of transparency and inclusion. And I think that’s it. Exactly why we still need them.”