- For the first time, the UN climate conference in Glasgow called on the countries of the world to start phasing out coal.
- The declaration approved by around 200 countries on Saturday also calls for “inefficient” subsidies for oil, gas and coal to be scrapped.
- However, the wording was watered down at the last minute under pressure from China and India.
EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans expressed his great disappointment at the slowdown. Switzerland was also disappointed with the turnaround at the end, but had given up its resistance. However, Timmermanns acknowledged the demand for the exit from coal as “historic”.
Sommaruga is not happy with Glasgow
Despite “some successes”, Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga is not satisfied with the result of the Glasgow World Climate Conference. The approximately 200 participating countries at the two-week climate conference in Glasgow approved the joint declaration on Saturday calling for a gradual phase-out of coal energy. However, the wording was watered down at the last minute under pressure from China and India. Many smaller states felt left out.
Sommaruga denounced this “unacceptable manoeuvre” by China and India. “It’s not good for the credibility of the process.” The text was accepted nonetheless, so as not to jeopardize the entire Glasgow package. According to Sommaruga, as well as that of numerous non-governmental organisations, this reduction in coal consumption, which has been so clearly mentioned for the first time, will not be enough to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2100. At least the signal has been given that the coal era is coming to an end. And that is important.
Among the achievements of COP26 is the adoption of several rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The joint timeline was endorsed, and calls for all countries to announce “national contributions” for the next ten years from 2030, and even every five years from 2025 for those who are able to do so. Sommaruga had been tasked with finding a solution acceptable to all, together with her Rwandan counterpart.
With another of these rules, Switzerland should succeed in preserving one of its main goals in Glasgow, namely the prevention of double counting of greenhouse gas emission reductions. “We were able to prevent the worst,” said Sommaruga. Even if the final decision still contains a loophole. (sda)
When several states bitterly complained about last-minute watering down just before the final vote on Saturday evening, British COP26 President Alok Sharma fought back tears. “I apologize for the way it went. And I’m very sorry,” said the host.
He added: “It is also vital that we protect this package.” Then his voice broke and he lowered his eyes. The delegates helped him through the emotional moment with long applause.
Based on voluntariness
The countries also jointly committed to the goal of stopping global warming at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. To this end, they should sharpen their previously inadequate climate protection plans by the end of 2022. But this remains voluntary, there is no obligation.
Disillusionment with the UN Secretary-General
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has expressed his disillusionment with the compromise. “It’s an important step, but it’s not enough. It’s time to go into emergency mode,” Guterres wrote on Twitter after delegates agreed on the final statement on Saturday night. He added: “The fight against climate change is the fight of our lives and this fight must be won.”
So far, the plans submitted are far from sufficient to achieve the 1.5 degree target agreed in Paris in 2015. The declaration states that the emission of climate-damaging greenhouse gases must be reduced by 45 percent worldwide in this decade.
Financial aid for poorer countries
More financial aid is also promised for poor countries so that they can adapt to the consequences of the climate crisis, which are fatal in many places. Tens of millions of people are already facing more frequent and prolonged droughts and heat waves, or are struggling with more severe storms and floods.
Dissatisfied Greta Thunberg
Climate activist Greta Thunberg was also not happy with the result of the Glasgow conference: “COP26 is over. Here’s a quick synopsis: Blah, blah, blah», tweeted the Swede. Halfway through the summit, she took to the streets with tens of thousands of demonstrators and then left.
Specifically, these financial aids are to be doubled by 2025, i.e. from currently around 20 to around 40 billion dollars (around 35 billion euros). For the first time, the long-standing demand of poor countries to set up a pot of money to help in the event of damage and losses is being addressed.
This means, for example, destruction or forced resettlements after droughts, storm surges or hurricanes. The rich countries are asked to pay in money for this. Concrete sums for this are not mentioned. Only “technical support” should be available after damage events, but not the complete damage should be settled.