COP Over for Now: Real Gains, Much More to Do

November 13, 2021

Washington Post:

GLASGOW, Scotland — Exhausted negotiators from nearly 200 nations struck a deal Saturday intended to propel the world towardmore urgent climate action, but without offering the transformative breakthrough scientists say must happen if humanity is to avert disastrous planetary warming.

Two weeks of high-profile talks yielded a package that pushes countries to strengthen near-term climate targets and move away from fossil fuels faster. It insists that wealthy countries fulfill a broken promise to help vulnerable nations cope with the rising costs of climate change. And it cracks open the door to future payments developed nations might make for damage already done.

Saturday’s agreement, however, does not achieve the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris accord — to limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. Instead, delegations left Glasgow with the Earth still on track to blow past that threshold, pushing toward a future of escalating weather crises and irreversible damage to the natural world.

And representatives from hard-hit nations feared that the deal still leaves their people facing an existential threat.

“The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us,” Aminath Shauna, the Maldives’ minister of environment, climate change and technology, told the summit. “What is balanced and pragmatic to other parties will not help the Maldives adapt in time. It will be too late.”

Organizers acknowledged that the hard-fought agreement doesn’t go nearly far enough. But they argued that the progress made here creates a road map to a safer future and “keeps 1.5 alive.”

“We’re all well aware that, collectively, our climate ambition and action to date have fallen short on the promises made in Paris,” Alok Sharma, the British minister of state and president of the Glasgow talks, told delegates Saturday.

But he insisted that the deal adopted by the nations would set out “tangible next steps and very clear milestones” to push the world closer to those goals.

Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air:

NEW: Glasgow climate summit impact on coal:
*cancellation of 90 new coal power projects
*phase out 370 existing plants that didn’t have a close-by date before
*95% of world’s coal plants now covered by carbon neutrality targets – that require closing essentially all of them.

We tallied up all the commitments to “no new coal”, ending fossil fuel financing, coal phase-outs and carbon neutrality announced in the run-up to and at the UN climate summit in Glasgow. 750 coal-fired power plants (550 gigawatts) around the world now have a phase-out date, while another 1600 plants (1420 GW) are covered by carbon neutrality targets phase-out. This is up from 380 plants (260 GW) with a phase-out date before the Glasgow process.

Nature Conservancy:

“Analysis of these latest commitments by the respected Climate Action Tracker (CAT) and International Energy Agency (IEA) project that the fresh pledges made over the past fortnight have the potential to reduce global warming by 0.5°C – a significant stride toward the +1.5°C target.

“The Glasgow Climate Pact represents the first time the world has formally agreed that tackling fossil fuel subsidies is a goal worth pursuing, and that the +1.5°C goal should be a Northstar for the global community moving forward. These philosophical shifts also represent is a major step towards driving the decarbonization of global economies and accelerating the clean energy transition.

“Perhaps the best news out of Glasgow was the focus and attention paid to the role that nature – and the rights of Indigenous communities whose lands play host to so much of the world’s remaining wildlife habitat – can play in addressing the interconnected climate and biodiversity emergencies. Nature was on the agenda at COP26 like never before. Unlocking the potential of forests, farms, and wetlands to deliver up to a third of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 must be prioritized.

“So, despite suggestions to the contrary, I believe we can leave COP26 with some hope still intact. Major economies like China, the E.U, and the U.S. are beginning to show serious climate ambition and – crucially – the finance to back it up. But still too few have turned ambitious rhetoric into tangible actions. It is imperative, as we look towards COP27 in Egypt and the threats facing its African neighbors, that on-the-ground implementation of proven climate strategies accelerates this year. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres put it, we have now reached “code red for humanity.” There is no more time to waste.

“For all the celebrations at the time, in policy circles we understood that the Paris Agreement only ever provided a scaffolding of sorts – a frame around which to build a safer, more prosperous and lower-carbon planet for our children and our grandchildren. Progress on laying the foundations for the future has been made. Now, the hard work toward accelerating commitments into real-world action must begin.”

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