Halfway through, COP26 divided between praise and disillusion

Halfway through the crucial COP26, new climate commitments undoubtedly move the planet a little away from the “catastrophic” warming predicted by the UN. But as promise does not rhyme with reality, calls to action are redoubled as poor countries cry out injustice.

Strengthening of the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of India, Brazil and Argentina, commitment of around 100 countries to reduce methane emissions, promises to phase out coal …

After a week of announcements widely promoted by the British presidency of COP26, some are already talking about unprecedented successes, such as the American envoy John Kerry.

“I have never, in the first days of a COP, counted so many initiatives and so much money put on the table,” he commented. And “the majority of the G20 countries have real plans (…) which will keep the target of + 1.5 ° C within reach if these plans are applied. This is a game-changer”.

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg speaks to a crowd of demonstrators protesting the “failure” of COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, November 7, 2021 (AFP – DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

In contrast, the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg: “The COP26 is a failure”, she already judged Friday in front of thousands of young people who marched in Glasgow.

“There are two truths here,” notes Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute think tank. “We have made a lot of progress in some areas, which we would never have imagined two years ago, but at the same time, it is not enough.”

Who could imagine that China, then India, would commit to carbon neutrality? Their objective is however more distant than the date of 2050 advocated by scientists to hope to limit warming to + 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era, the most ambitious objective of the Paris agreement.

The impact of climate change on vulnerable countries (AFP - Gal ROMA)
The impact of climate change on vulnerable countries (AFP – Gal ROMA)

Before this COP, the States’ CO2 reduction commitments for 2030 led to a “catastrophic” warming of 2.7 ° C, at best 2.2 ° C by adding carbon neutrality objectives for the middle of the century, according to the UN Environment Baseline Report.

These estimates have not yet been updated, but according to various preliminary analyzes from other experts, if and only if all the new promises were indeed fulfilled, we could limit the warming to a little below + 2 ° C, maybe. -be 1.8 ° C, according to the most optimistic calculation.

But while each additional tenth of a degree brings about its share of new catastrophes, the ceiling of + 1.5 ° C would still be exceeded. And the request of the most vulnerable countries to submit more ambitious commitments each year should go unheeded, observers said.

– “Random charity” –

As for carbon neutrality, “it is a good thing that this is the new benchmark but most of the commitments are not supported by implementation plans,” said Laurence Tubiana, architect of the agreement, to AFP. of Paris, denouncing greenwashing which, according to her, has become as dangerous as the denial of climate change.

On the side of the poorest countries, the least responsible for global warming but which are already paying the price for its devastating impacts, the explosive question of financing is still the focus of resentment, in the context of the global health crisis.

Different indigenous peoples take part in the protests against COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 7, 2021 (AFP - DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)
Different indigenous peoples take part in the protests against COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, on November 7, 2021 (AFP – DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS)

“This first week is a disappointment, most of our concerns are not really being taken into account”, denounces during an interview with AFP Ahmadou Sebory Touré, who chairs the Group 77 + China bringing together 134 countries developing or emerging.

“There is a bad faith of the developed countries which always ask the vulnerable countries to do more”, he continues, but without putting on the table the famous “100 billion”.

In 2009, developed countries promised to increase their aid to developing countries to $ 100 billion per year to reduce their emissions and adapt to the impacts. But more than 20 billion were still missing in 2019, and the North now hopes to achieve it in 2023.

Archie Young, UK climate negotiator at COP26 in Glasow, Scotland, November 6, 2021 (AFP - Paul ELLIS)
Archie Young, UK climate negotiator at COP26 in Glasow, Scotland, November 6, 2021 (AFP – Paul ELLIS)

“Let’s stop talking in the air on access to finance”, denounced Lia Nicholson, negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), deploring that the populations on the front line of climate change “are being held hostage by ‘random charity’.

After a first week where negotiating groups and observers denounced the access restrictions linked to Covid-19 despite the promises of an “inclusive” COP, the ministers are on the track this week to try to find compromises on the main orientations policies but also on the articles pending for three years of the user manual of the Paris agreement, in particular on the functioning of carbon markets.

But some doubt the will of the major emitters to arrive at an ambitious final declaration.

“If climate change is a red alert for humanity, why are so many countries at COP26 negotiating as if it was a simple fire drill?” Says Rachel Rose Jackson, of the NGO Corporate Accountability.

Source: Challenges en temps réel : accueil by www.challenges.fr.

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