World leaders miss deadline, keep negotiating climate agreement at COP26

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Nov. 12 (UPI) — The U.N. Climate Change Conference missed its Friday evening deadline to agree to a new pact called the Glasgow Agreement.

Negotiations on the deal, which must be agreed to in its entirety by all leaders, went into overtime, beyond the 6 p.m. deadline. The New York Times reported that negotiators said hours of talks on the pact still remained as of the deadline.

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There have been some disputes over various elements, including time frames, finances and transparency. The Guardian reported that the issue of “loss and damage” — claims made by poorer nations impacted by climate change — has become a deal-breaker for some representatives. The United States, for example, doesn’t want to face unlimited claims for damages.

“Vulnerable countries want a loss and damage facility launched here, but the EU and the U.S. have been blocking any mention of this,” Mohammed Adow, from Power Shift Africa, told The Guardian.

“If it’s about environmental justice and providing solidarity, particularly to the climate vulnerable countries, Joe Biden‘s administration is perhaps as worse as Donald Trump‘s.”

The Times said disputes still exist over the speed of emission cuts and whether the agreement should mention the phrase “fossil fuels.”

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An initial draft of the Glasgow Agreement was released Wednesday, and includes some ambitious goals, including whether signatories of the Paris Agreement six years ago should more frequently assess their climate commitments.

The 2015 deal requires nations to provide new or updated commitments every five years in the hopes that their goals would grow more ambitious as time goes on. But updated plans from China, Australia, Russia and other nations have not met the demands of climate activists.

“I don’t see how we can wait another five years,” Juan Pablo Sorino, senior political leader for Greenpeace International, said in a statement this week. “We need to see an acceleration.”

Wealthier nations also face a call from developing nations to increase financial pledges after announcing prior to the summit that they were unlikely to meet a 2009 commitment to provide $100 billion a year until 2023, three years after the initial goal.

A finance plan developed by Germany and Canada will propose meeting the $100 billion annual target by taking an average of the financing provided from 2020 to 2025, instead of in single years.

Lastly, leaders will have to decide how nations will be held accountable for achieving goals. There are some calls for a uniform structure for how they report progress and an outline for ways to help nations that lack the capacity or expertise to meet goals.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson participates in a session at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 1. Photo by Kiara Worth/COP26/UPI
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What’s been achieved so far

World leaders opened the conference in Glasgow by vowing to work toward a “climate resilient future” and pledging to cut emissions by 2030, citing the impact of global warming as a result of fossil fuel emissions.

A preliminary draft also urges individual countries to update their carbon-cutting goals before the end of 2022 to expedite emissions cuts.

Biden and other global leaders spoke on the third day of the conference to lend their vision for the future.

Biden pledged in his address that the United States is aiming for a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 and unveiled a plan to achieve it.

“One of the most important things we can do in this decisive decade — to keep 1.5 [degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels] in reach — is reduce our methane emissions as quickly as possible,” Biden said.

Here are some other achievements made at the summit:

  • More than 100 nations pledged to end deforestation by the end of the 2020s.
  • More than 40 countries agreed to halt domestic and international investments in the production of coal. Developed nations agreed to end their support in the 2030s, and developing signatories in the 2040s.
  • Young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg of Sweden, made their mark on the conference by demanding greater ambition from leaders.
  • Former U.S. President Barack Obama spoke at the summit, saying that the world is running out of time to take meaningful action. “We can’t afford to stay where we are,” he said in his speech.
  • Leaders released a draft of the Glasgow Agreement, which outlines the end of coal and strong restrictions on oil and gas production. It established a framework and opened negotiations with more than 200 nations.
  • The United States and China unveiled a surprise agreement, which U.S. climate envoy John Kerry described as “a step we can build on in order to help close the gap.”
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Young climate activists attend the Fridays for Future student march against climate change on the sidelines of at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 5. Photo by Robert Perry/EPA-EFE

Next: COP27

Officials announced Thursday that the next U.N. Climate Change Conference will be held in Egypt in one year at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Egypt takes it upon itself to make every effort to achieve success in COP27 in facing this challenge that threatens the whole world and will spare no effort to make COP27 hospitable and constructive for all,” Egyptian Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad said, according to Egypt Today.

The 2022 conference will be the fifth time that it’s held in Africa, after it was previously hosted twice by Morocco (2001 and 2016) and once each by Kenya (2006) and South Africa (2011).

In its pitch to host the conference, Egypt said that “Africa will continue to speak in one voice” at the summit and acknowledged that the continent contributes the least amount of carbon emissions of all the continents.

“Africa needs technical and financial support to tap on the abundant renewable energy resource to secure clean energy necessary for achieving sustainable development goals,” the pitch said.

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Also, the United Arab Emirates announced Thursday that it has been selected to host COP28 in 2023.