December 3, 2021

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COP26: Signature of a landmark global agreement on climate change

COP26: Signature of a landmark global agreement on climate change

After marathon negotiations, a global climate agreement was reached at COP26, which was held in the Scottish city of Glasgow. The agreement includes reference for the first time in history to fossil fuels and their role in the climate crisis that the world is going through.

The final text of the document points directly against coal, the largest contributor to climate change. It should be noted that in the previous 25 climate change conferences, coal, oil or gas were not mentioned in the final agreement, as well as any other fossil fuels, as major causes of the environmental crisis.

The discussions in Glasgow lasted much longer than expected due to disagreements that prevailed over key issues, including the attack on coal and how much money the developed world should pay the global south to help adapt to the climate crisis. Initially, these discussions were due to end on November 12, but had to be extended until November 13 as well.

Coal is responsible for nearly 40% of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is why this fuel has been a major player in efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. To achieve this goal, agreed in Paris in 2015, global emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030, and they must be practically eliminated by mid-century.

However, current commitments are not enough to limit global temperature growth by 1.5 degrees. In the first draft of the COP26 agreement, the phasing out of coal use was mentioned. However, it was changed due to last minute objections made by India. Thus, the phrase was changed to reduce rather than delete it.

After the phrase change, several countries expressed their disagreement, while COP26 chief Alok Sharma said he was “deeply saddened” by how events had unfolded. With that, he stressed that it was of paramount importance to protect the Convention in general.

The Swiss environment minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, also criticized the last-minute language change around fossil fuels, as it seemed to her that it was not a transparent way of doing things.

We don’t need to reduce the use of coal and other fossil fuels. This won’t get us any closer to the 1.5 . goal [grados]Sommaruga, for his part, said Lars Koch, Policy Director at ActionAid, said it was disappointing that coal was only so accurately mentioned.

“This gives free passage to rich countries that have been extracting and polluting for more than a century and continue to produce oil and gas,” he said.

Within the framework of this agreement, the countries committed themselves to reduce the use of coal in order not to allow the temperature to rise by more than 1.5 degrees. Scientists warn that if this is not achieved, the Earth may suffer dire consequences.

The main achievements of the agreement can be summarized:

  • Inclusion of a commitment to reduce charcoal use;
  • Reassess emission reduction plans on a more regular basis;
  • Increase economic aid to developing countries.

However, developing countries were unhappy with the lack of progress in what is known as loss and damage: a concept that the richer countries must compensate the poorer for the effects of climate change to which they cannot adapt.

The Special Envoy for Climate Issues in Tuvalu (a country at risk of submerging under the ocean), Seif Bainyu, told reporters before the last session that he was pleased to see the progress, but at the same time the words should be appropriate. It is reinforced by actions.

(with information from Sputnik)