COP26 agrees to an agreement aimed at avoiding a climate catastrophe, after the drama

The UN climate talks in Scotland ended with a global agreement aimed at keeping hopes alive of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, thus maintaining a realistic chance of saving the world from catastrophic climate change.

Alok Sharma, the conference chairman, was visibly excited before striking with his relief mallet to indicate that there were no vetoes from the nearly 200 national delegations present in Glasgow, ranging from superpowers fueled by coal and gas to oil producers and Pacific islands. swallowed up by rising sea levels.

The two-week conference in Glasgow, which spanned an additional day of tortuous negotiations, was the 26th of its kind, but the first to call for a reduction in fossil fuels, which not only power much of the world economy, They are also the main cause of man-made global warming.

There was a late-breaking drama when India, backed by China and other coal-dependent developing nations, raised objections to this part of the deal and called for the wording to be rewritten. The clause was hastily amended to ask countries to accelerate their efforts toward a “phasing out” of coal power rather than a “phasing out.”

India’s Environment and Climate Minister Bhupender Yadav said the revision was necessary to reflect the “national circumstances of emerging economies.”

United States President Joe Biden walks to deliver a speech during the ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’ event at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland , Great Britain, November 2, 2021 (Credit: REUTERS)

“We are becoming the voice of developing countries,” he told Reuters, adding that coal had been “selected” during the COP26 talks, while there was no similar call to phase out oil or natural gas. .

“We made our effort to achieve a consensus that is reasonable for developing countries and reasonable for climate justice,” he said, alluding to the fact that rich nations have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases.

The change of a word in the agreement was greeted with dismay by the wealthy economies of the European Union and Switzerland, as well as by a large group of small island states, whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels.

But they all said they would leave it for the sake of a general agreement.

“The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, conditions, contradictions and the state of political will in today’s world,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“They take important steps, but unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions.”


Sharma had had the onerous task of balancing the demands of climate-vulnerable nations, major industrial powers, and those like India and China whose consumption or export of fossil fuels is vital to their economic development.

His voice cracked with excitement after hearing vulnerable nations express their anger at the last minute changes.

“I can tell all the delegates that I apologize for the way this process has developed and I am deeply sorry,” he told the assembly.

“I also understand the deep disappointment, but I think that, as you have pointed out, it is also vital that we protect this package.”

The overarching goal he set before the conference was one that climate activists and vulnerable countries had found too modest, namely to “keep alive” the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. (2.7 Fahrenheit) above the preset pressure. industrial levels.

In effect, the agreement recognized that commitments made so far to reduce global warming greenhouse gas emissions are not close enough, and called on nations to make stricter climate commitments next year, rather than each. five years, as they are currently required to do.

Scientists say that going beyond a 1.5 ° C rise would trigger extreme sea level rise and catastrophes including devastating droughts, monster storms and wildfires far worse than the ones the world is already experiencing.

But national promises made so far to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas, would only limit the average global temperature rise to 2.4 degrees Celsius.


Jennifer Morgan, executive director of the campaign group Greenpeace, saw the glass half full.

“They changed a word, but they cannot change the signal that comes out of this COP, that the era of coal is ending,” he said. “If you are an executive of a coal company, this COP had a bad result.”

Developing countries argue that rich nations, whose historical emissions are largely responsible for global warming, must pay more to help them adapt to its consequences, as well as reduce their carbon footprint.

The agreement gave poorer nations more promises, but no guarantees, that they would eventually get more financial aid than they had long been told they would get.

He urged rich countries to double climate adaptation financing by 2025 from 2019 levels, offering financing that has been a key demand from small island nations at the conference.

Funds for adaptation go primarily to the poorest countries and currently represent only a small fraction of climate finance.

A UN committee will also report next year on progress toward delivering the $ 100 billion per year in comprehensive annual climate funds that wealthy nations had promised by 2020 but failed to deliver. And governments will be convened to meet in 2022, 2024 and 2026 to discuss climate finance.

Yet even $ 100 billion a year is well below the real needs of the poorest countries, which could reach $ 300 billion by 2030 in adaptation costs alone, according to the United Nations, in addition to economic losses. due to poor harvests or weather-related disasters.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *