Climate Campaign

What occurred at COP26? And what subsequent?

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The quick solutions to those questions are easy: within the face of escalating local weather breakdown, COP26 did little to shift our trajectory away from disaster, away from business-as-usual and in the direction of curbing fossil gas use. Wealthy international locations have refused to step up and meet their obligations to those that have least to trigger the local weather disaster.

Within the phrases of Greta Thunberg, extra “blah, blah, blah”.

And as for what comes subsequent, in fact we go on preventing to maintain the possibility of staying beneath 1.5C alive.

The lengthy model? After two weeks with a flurry of bulletins, greenwash, struggles over seemingly minor particulars of textual content, and anger from civl society massed on the streets of Glasgow, it’s value unpacking among the particulars of what was actually agreed, or not. How does the jargon translate into actual world outcomes, actually of life and loss of life? In these particulars we will see beneath the media spin and shiny bulletins the brutal realities of energy, cash, and neocolonialism.

1.5C ‘on life help’

Because the window of alternative is closing to remain inside 1.5C heating and keep away from the worst local weather disaster, the place are we left as COP26 ends?

Below the Paris local weather deal, nations needed to submit up to date voluntary commitments to local weather motion (generally known as nationally decided contributions or NDCs) earlier than the talks. Unsurprisingly, these are typically missing in substance or urgency. Many lack clear ship plans and delay significant change till after 2030. Climate Action Tracker’s useful analysis finds that even with all new pledges for 2030, we are going to nonetheless emit roughly twice as a lot in 2030 as required for 1.5C.

They estimate if all present pledges for emissions cuts by 2030 are met, this offers solely a 50% likelihood of staying under 2.4C.

After all 1.5C itself is not any ‘secure stage’. Many areas have already skilled devastating wildfires, floods, hurricanes and heatwaves at 1.1C. These, together with longer-term impacts comparable to drought, disproportionately have an effect on international locations who’ve finished least to trigger the issue and have fewest assets to take care of them.

One of the vital necessary outcomes of COP26 is the wording within the ‘Glasgow local weather pact’ (the ultimate textual content which all international locations agreed to on the finish of the negotiations), which “requests” that international locations “revisit and strengthen” their targets by the tip of 2022 “as essential to align with the Paris Settlement temperature objective…considering totally different nationwide circumstances”.

That is important given the alarming hole between the place we’re and the place we should be. Below the Paris deal, international locations had been solely anticipated to replace their pledges each 5 years. Holding governments to this will probably be an enormous process for the worldwide local weather motion earlier than COP27 in Egypt subsequent 12 months. Instantly after signing as much as this wording, the Australian authorities put out a statement refusing to change their 2030 goal over the following 12 months. Gradual hand clap.

Money owed to the International South stay unpaid

Creating international locations got here into COP26 with a transparent demand – fee of desperately wanted funding. In Copenhagen in 2009, wealthy international locations promised to switch $100 billion a 12 months to growing international locations by 2020 to assist them adapt to local weather impacts and to chop emissions. 

However this promise was not met. The most recent figures, from 2019 present the full sum falling $20 billion quick. Even worse, Oxfam’s analysis from 2017-18 from confirmed solely a fifth of funding was given as grants, with many of the relaxation solely supplied as loans, ceaselessly at unfavourable charges. A lot so-called ‘local weather finance’ is due to this fact geared in the direction of producing revenue, and could also be truly be rising international locations’ debt burdens  

Even beginning COP26, there was little or no belief that wealthy international locations would make good this failure. It must also be remembered that these negotiations befell throughout a pandemic the place the gross world inequity of vaccine distribution between wealthy and poor international locations earned the time period ‘vaccine apartheid’ , and demonstrated once more the willingness to sacrifice lives within the International South.

There was certainly no dedication at COP26 to ship $100bn a 12 months earlier than 2023. Rich international locations additionally resisted the demand that they make this up by offering greater than that in 2024 and 2025. Additionally they refused requires transparency and a transparent definition of “local weather finance” – within the phrases of the finance lead for the Alliance of Small Island States, for local weather finance to be “predictable, accessible, grants-based and most significantly considerably scaled up”.

In a robust speech (which you’ll watch in full here), Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, reminded world leaders that in comparision to the failure on local weather funding, $9 trillion had been generated by governments in quantitative easing over the previous 18 months of the pandemic.

Creating international locations already face $70 billion a year prices of local weather adaptation alone, and that is anticipated to rise to $140-300 billion by 2030, however only a quarter of local weather finance supplied has been for adaptation. The ultimate textual content of the Glasgow pact urged developed international locations to “urgently and considerably scale up” funds supplied for adaptation to local weather change, and to at the least double adaptation funding from 2019 ranges by 2025, which might take it to $40 billion, nonetheless a lot lower than is required.

Loss and injury

Monetary help to make poorer international locations extra resilient to local weather shocks and to allow them to develop with out reliance on fossil fuels is urgently wanted. However some local weather impacts which might be so catastrophic that they can’t be ready for or tailored to.

One of many key calls for put ahead at COP26 by the G77 and China (a world majority bloc which their negotiators identified lined 6 of each 7 individuals on earth) was for a brand new financing facility to compensate for loss and injury. This has lengthy been resisted by richer international locations who’re accountable for almost all of historic carbon emissions, fearing it is going to finish in worldwide courts making them answerable for trillions of {dollars}. 

Unsurprisingly, this proposal was swiftly deleted from the negotiating textual content, changed with a ‘dialogue’ to be arrange on loss and injury which might final till 2024. Wealthy nations, together with the US and EU representatives had been denounced for hypocrisy as they provided heat phrases of solidarity and urgency in public speeches whereas behind closed doorways blocking meaningful steps on loss and damage finance in addition to different calls for from these worst affected by the local weather disaster.

Kicking the fossil gas behavior (or not)

It could appear extraordinary that earlier than this 12 months the position of fossil fuels in inflicting local weather change has by no means been talked about in a COP final result textual content. Actually this merely demonstrates the management exerted by the trade and its authorities allies over the negotiations. This 12 months, International Witness discovered 503 delegates linked to the fossil gas trade, more than any single country’s delegation

In Glasgow, the preliminary draft textual content referred to as upon events “to speed up the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”. This was then weakened to “…accelerating efforts in the direction of the phase-out of unabated coal energy and inefficient fossil gas subsidies, recognizing the necessity for help in the direction of a simply transition;”

Global fossil fuel subsidies are at the least $600 billion yearly. Since nobody appeared to have a definition of what ‘inefficient’ fossil gas subsidies could be, you do not should be a cynic to foretell that governments are more likely to choose all their very own fossil gas subsidies to be ‘environment friendly’ and due to this fact exterior the scope of the settlement.

Unabated coal energy‘ is code for coal energy with out carbon seize and storage (CCS) expertise. However the potential for carbon seize to truly make a major dent in coal emissions is extremely uncertain. Because the textual content was being written, information emerged of one more carbon seize challenge failing to perform as predicted

Nevertheless the media consideration was not on these gaping loopholes, however on India’s dramatic final minute intervention to alter the wording from ‘section out’  to ‘section down’. This adopted a push from China and India to weaken the textual content in a last minute meeting between representatives of the 4 greatest polluters – the US, China, India, and the EU, and Alok Sharma from the UK authorities.  

Rejecting this modification would have meant reopening your complete textual content for renegotiation, so the change was accepted, with a lot anger from international locations who felt they’d been sidelined. Fiji’s Lawyer Common Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum mentioned, “What we wish to categorical isn’t just our astonishment however our immense disappointment on the method wherein this has been launched.”

India’s intervention makes them simply positioned as the general public scapegoat for the weak final result, avoiding scrutiny of different international locations’ position. There is no such thing as a should be an advocate for Narendra Modi or India’s coal mining expansion, to recognise that the story of COP26 is way from that straightforward. Earlier within the negotiations, India had referred to as for the textual content to say that each one fossil fuels should be phased down in an equitable method. This would come with not simply coal (the gas of selection for a lot of poorer international locations) but in addition oil and fuel (the selection for a lot of wealthier international locations). 

After all, the inclusion of oil and fuel wouldn’t be acceptable to highly effective pursuits, notably the US and EU. Though staying underneath 1.5C is determined by there being no new fossil gas growth, together with oil and fuel, the fossil gas juggernaut continues unchecked. Throughout COP26 a draft checklist was leaked of EU cross-border tasks eligible for fast-track permits and public funding. It included 30 major gas developments worth some €13bn. In the meantime, with Biden’s govt order briefly pausing new federal oil and fuel leases having been struck down by a choose final June, the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history befell simply after COP26. And within the UK, the Cambo oil field, thought to comprise 800 million barrels of oil, is about to get the inexperienced mild.

Carbon buying and selling – a licence for polluters

Excessive stakes negotiations had been additionally going down in Glasgow over ‘Article 6’, the final a part of the ‘Paris rulebook’ to be finalised. It offers with carbon buying and selling. The necessary factor to recollect about carbon buying and selling / offsetting is that it doesn’t in itself lower emissions, it merely strikes them round, as polluters pay for emissions cuts elsewhere. It’s attainable to set guidelines that trigger some discount in emissions by getting polluters to purchase extra ‘carbon credit’ than they use, cancelling a few of them. However there are various examples of carbon offsetting failing. The claimed emissions reductions from tasks transform non-existent, exaggerated or delayed. So Article 6 has the potential to considerably undermine your complete Paris settlement. To make it even worse, offsetting tasks can result in land grabs and human rights abuses.

Settlement was lastly reached in Paris, and whereas among the worst proposed loopholes had been closed, the overall outcome is worrying. The chance of widespread double counting of emissions cuts (by the purchaser and the nation the place they occur) was averted. This, in addition to the usage of extremely dodgy ‘averted deforestation’ credit had been each dominated out. Indigenous individuals additionally received a dedication to an impartial grievance course of for disputes round carbon offsetting tasks.

Nevertheless, the system will enable outdated Kyoto Protocol credit from 2013 onwards to be carried over into the brand new system. As this technique lacked correct scrutiny of credit, this dangers flooding the market with 300 million low-cost ‘zombie’ credit which offer no local weather profit. There are additionally query marks about whether or not 

Makes an attempt by growing international locations to set a excessive price of cancellation of credit (important if the system had been to truly drive emissions reductions) had been blocked. Simply  2% of credit will probably be routinely cancelled and one other 5% paid right into a fund to assist growing international locations adapt to local weather change. For credit offered straight between two international locations there will probably be no obligation to cancel any in any respect (extra clarification on how this works here). 

This isn’t simply in regards to the particulars although, however about trying to sort out the local weather disaster via a system based mostly on the commodification of carbon and nature. Previous expertise reveals that the outcomes of this, by its nature, will probably be closely weighted in the direction of benefiting monetary merchants and enabling continued air pollution via offsets, somewhat than real emissions cuts or benefiting native communities.

A blitz of bulletins: ‘Authorities by press launch’

As COP26 president, the UK authorities scheduled a spread of bulletins, notably through the first week. Some commenters felt the formal course of was at risk of “drowning in announcement blitz” and that Boris Johnson was bringing his trademark ‘Authorities by press launch’ to administration of a UN local weather summit. 

Critics included Mohamed Adow from Energy Shift Africa who argued that this endangered the important give attention to negotiated selections which international locations can scrutinise and be held accounted for.

Different commentators celebrated the potential for these initiatives to mobilise extra motion on local weather change. Local weather Motion Tracker was cautious, nonetheless, discovering the bulletins solely made a small contribution to narrowing the hole to 1.5C. 

Not all of the initiatives are as spectacular because the preliminary press launch implied. Under, we assessment among the most vital developments.

Defending forests

The Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land Use was signed by 100 international locations representing 85% of the globe’s forested land, it pledges to finish or scale back deforestation by 2030, and has attracted $14 billion in private and non-private pledges of funding. 

It might have been a shock to many to see Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, on the checklist of signatories, given his disastrous push to open up the Amazon to elevated deforestation. However Greenpeace Brazil govt director, Carolina Pasquali, pointed out, “There’s an excellent purpose Bolsonaro felt comfy signing on to this new deal. It permits one other decade of forest destruction and isn’t binding.” 

Those that had been unimpressed reminded us that that is not the first declaration on forests. The 2014 New York Declaration for Forests promised to scale back deforestation by 50% by 2020 and finish it by 2030. Since then, deforestation has solely risen, contributing what the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change estimates as 23% of complete carbon emissions

Different consultants had been fast to level out a loophole in the Declaration. It focuses totally on ‘deforestation,’ nonetheless underneath UN definitions, land shouldn’t be technically deforested if it’s not developed into different business makes use of, or if it’s transformed to monoculture tree plantations. This time period additionally largely excludes logging for biomass as a result of bushes are assumed to be finally regrown. Which may be very handy for signatories Canada, the US and Russia, the world’s main producers of wooden pellets for export, in addition to the UK and the most important EU nations, every of that are main customers of biomass for burning, half of which comes from native forests. Once more a sample could be seen the place the actions of richer international locations, the International North, escape scrutiny and regulation.

A $1.5bn fund may even be established to guard the world’s second largest tropical rainforest, within the Congo Basin. A moratorium on new logging concessions was lifted by the DRC authorities in July, and campaigners are involved that the provide of latest cash is not going to be contingent on the ban being reinstated.

In a separate and inspiring growth, greater than 30 of the world’s greatest monetary firms have promised to end investment in activities linked to deforestation by 2025, with a give attention to agricultural commodities – palm oil, soy, beef and leather-based, pulp and paper. The marketing campaign for divestment from fossil fuels has made large progress, this may increasingly encourage additional campaigning to chop the movement of finance and commerce which helps deforestation. 

Methane alliance

An alliance was launched to try to chop emissions of the greenhouse fuel methane by 30 % by 2030, with over 100 international locations signing up. 

Methane, which is 80 occasions extra highly effective than carbon dioxide, is leaking from fuel pipelines, oil wells, fossil gas processing crops and landfills all around the world, in addition to being produced by livestock. Round 60% of methane emissions are produced by human actions, and human-caused methane is estimated to be responsible for at least 25% of today’s global warming.

There aren’t any particular person targets for members of the brand new alliance, so there may be little transparency or detail on how this discount is supposed to be achieved.

Makes an attempt to chop fossil gas use (Half 2)

Coal initiatives: A UK authorities press launch introduced the “end of coal was in sight” with “190 international locations and organisations” agreeing to finish coal. Understanding who had signed as much as what required some untangling, since there it included totally different initiatives with various ranges of ambition. Some international locations signing up do not burn coal anyway however had signed up in ‘solidarity’. Poland didn’t assist the confusion by pledging to section out coal within the 2030s then instantly backtracking and saying it nonetheless meant to be burning coal till 2049. 

Absent from the checklist are among the world’s greatest coal-dependent international locations, together with Australia, India, China and the US. However there have been some steps ahead. Vietnam dedicated to ending coal within the 2040s and Indonesia trailed the opportunity of bringing its coal section out ahead from the 2050s to 2040 with worldwide monetary help. Ukraine introduced a 2035 coal exit, placing strain on Poland and Germany. To seek out out extra about international locations’ coal commitments there’s a helpful analysis by Ember  

Ending worldwide funding for fossil gas growth: A statement committing international locations and establishments to halt all financing for fossil gas growth abroad and divert the spending to inexperienced vitality was signed by the UK, US, Canada and Germany, together with establishments such because the European Funding Financial institution and East African Improvement Financial institution. Different international locations comparable to Germany, Spain and the Netherlands additionally signed up later.

Earlier than COP26, Japan and South Korea, adopted by China, already pledged to finish funding for coal abroad. If these and different international locations and establishments had been persuaded to halt all abroad fossil gas funding, shifting to renewables, it might make an enormous distinction. And, much more importantly, halting subsidies and help for fossil gas growth at house…

Past Oil and Fuel Alliance: With only a few international locations supporting, this alliance of countries committing to end oil and gas extraction may very well be seen as a small step, however it was refreshing to see commitments that really felt acceptable to the existential local weather menace. Launched by Denmark and Costa Rica, with France, Eire, Portugal, and Sweden joined the alliance, together with Greenland, Quebec and Wales. Collectively, the core coalition accounts for 0.2% of worldwide oil manufacturing, as much as 0.8% if New Zealand and California, which don’t adjust to the complete membership standards are included, together with Italy which declared itself “a buddy” of the group. 

South Africa ‘Simply Power Transition Partnership’: A ‘groundbreaking’ deal was negotiated by South Africa with France, Germany, the UK, the US and the EU for an $8.5 billion bundle of grants and concessional finance over 3-5 years to speed up the retirement of coal crops, together with help to reskill coal staff and social safety measures. Whereas protection in Climate Home News focuses on the fund’s position in increase South Africa’s renewables capability, another report factors out that the nation could also be set to massively broaden fuel manufacturing. One to look at.

Personal finance claims fail to impress

Of all of the bulletins, the quickest to crumble was Mark Carney’s grand statement that buyers value $130 trillion would put local weather on the coronary heart of their investing to assist the web zero transition. It sounded too good to be true and it was. These funders would solely have to allocate a small share of their investments to precise net-zero exercise, had no exhausting dedication to internet zero and members can be free to proceed investing in fossil fuels.

United Nations Secretary Common Antonio Guterres had clearly had sufficient of this type of factor. He introduced he can be launching a bunch of consultants to suggest clear requirements to measure and analyse net-zero commitments from the non-public sector.

Essentially the most exclusionary COP ever – however civil society made their voices heard

Within the run as much as COP26, International South delegates and activist confronted large boundaries which prevented many from having the ability to come. 

Within the first week, civil society observers discovered not simply lengthy queues to get in however that they had been barred from the precise negotiating rooms for the opening plenaries and leaders summit.

Youth local weather activist Alexandria Villesenor spoke of her frustration on Twitter, “At COP25 in Madrid, I entered negotiating areas and noticed, which is what being a “NGO Observer” is all about. Right here, at #COP26 I have not been capable of observe in any respect. I really feel misplaced, like I am right here as an decoration or to inform reporters what offers me hope again and again and over…”

Outdoors, protests had been widespread, particularly for the Local weather Strike on Friday fifth November and the International Day of Motion on Saturday sixth, when an estimated 25,000 and 100,000 individuals, respectively, took to the streets of Glasgow, demanding motion (photos and video from Saturday’s march). There have been additionally round 100 different protests across the UK and lots of extra worldwide, calling for local weather justice and highlighting particular struggles, for instance protests against aviation greenwash. There was a robust theme of employee solidarity with local weather activists, with youth local weather strikers becoming a member of with placing cleaning staff in Glasgow and a major commerce union presence on demonstrations in different main cities.

What now?

Local weather scientist Peter Kalmus summed it up:

“Except COP26’s failure is acknowledged as failure, there is no such thing as a approach to be taught from it. Permitting world leaders to really feel that what occurred in Glasgow was acceptable — and spinning it as some type of success — can be a disastrous mistake. It might give them additional license to pander to the fossil gas trade and fail once more subsequent 12 months.”

We have to goal our personal authorities. Most instantly in regards to the proposed Cambo oil discipline and Cumbria coal mine – we can not go straight from internet hosting COP26 to opening up main fossil gas tasks, the quickest approach to put 1.5C out of attain. And these aren’t the one proposed fossil gas websites within the UK (see for instance this necessary test case for Horse Hill in Surrey).

Native campaigning, each destructive, towards quick threats like this, and constructive, making the case for climate jobs, for higher public transport and clear air, will proceed to be important, preventing from the bottom up and connecting to on a regular basis issues to interact extra individuals.

But when COP26 taught us something it’s that this can be a world motion and we have to join in solidarity with these internationally who’re on the entrance line of local weather change, exploitative fossil gas extraction, and, with rising probability, land grabs for carbon offsetting.

To maintain your spirits and dedication up, Rebecca Solnit suggests ways to confront the climate crisis without losing hope.

Collectively, let’s preserve preventing for actual local weather justice.

 

Additional studying on COP26 outcomes – Carbon Transient has extra coverage element here

Photograph credit score: COP26 on Flickr

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