Glasgow seals a deal that falls short of its promises against the climate crisis

  • The Climate Summit (COP26) closes with the commitment of the countries to design more ambitious climate policies for next year

  • Negotiations close without clear agreement on how to finance loss and damage in the global south

Glasgow promised to be the beginning of the end of the climate crisis. A turning point. An encounter that, unlike its predecessors, would actually achieve forge a global and fair pact to protect humanity against climate catastrophes. But after two weeks of intense debate and negotiations that have extended well beyond the official deadline, the Climate Summit (COP26) ends the unanimous promise of governments that next year present more ambitious climate policies but with a disappointing discount on the global commitment to reduce fossil fuels. On paper, the conclusion of the debate can be read like a half success or a half failure, depending on how you look at it. But in the face of an increasingly aware society and a scientific community that warns of the need to take urgent action, it will be difficult to argue that Glasgow has gone well. The verdict has not lived up to expectations.

At more optimistic balance of this Summit highlights, for example, the unexpected cooperation agreement between the United States and China, which from now on promise to work hand in hand to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions before the end of this decade, or India’s promise to reach zero emissions by 2070. It also promises the wide range of global pacts, closed outside of official negotiations, to put a stop to polluting vehicles o la deforestation. Many also welcome the fact that, for the first time in a document of this type, countries agree to include a explicit mention of the urgency of the moment, the need to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees and the goal of cutting global emissions by 45% by 2030 and reaching net zero by mid-century.

In the final closing of the negotiations, the mention about the beginning of the end of fossil fuels has been nuanced, once again, by the world’s leading coal, oil and gas consumers. The text has been changed at the last minute at the request of India, which has asked to agree to a reduction (and not an elimination) of coal. Several delegates have expressed their “deepest concern” about this modification. Much regret has also been shown for the fact that have not been moved in any plan, measure or calendar specific to address this issue. Especially given the abysmal difference between what we need to do and what we are doing to stop the advance of this crisis.

Generally speaking, the great Glasgow accords do not speak of what will be done from now on, but rather postpone the landing of the climate promises for a few more years. After a fierce debate of more than two weeks, the final text of this Climate Summit ends with the promise, in writing, that the great global pacts on the climate crisis will be closed in the next few years. As reflected in the agreement published this Saturday, one day after the official end of the negotiations, the countries will have to present at the Sharm el-Sheikh Climate Summit next year your new plans to reduce your emission levels. The final verdict on what happens to the carbon markets is also postponed until then. Likewise, the final pact summons world leaders to meet in 2023 to assess its climate policies for 2030.

Talk about solutions to the climate crisis in terms of the future it is synonymous with failure in a world where climatic extremes already create havoc and threaten an even more devastating future. It worries, on the one hand, to see how global pacts are postponed time and time again. As happened in Madrid and in many, too many, previous summits where after weeks of debate it was only agreed to continue debating in the following years.

The great disappointment with the global south

In these weeks, at the Glasgow debate table, there has been much talk about how the climate crisis is the result of the disproportionate emissions that rich countries have produced for decades and that are now wreaking havoc in the global south. For this reason, in addition to proposing measures to halt the advance of the problem, one of the main objectives of this Summit was to establish the mechanisms for mitigate the impact of this crisis in the most vulnerable areas of the planet. This promise has also come to nothing after the publication of a pact where it is not specified no mechanism to compensate for “loss and damage” in the global south. Only the severity of the problem and the need to provide assistance are mentioned, but the creation of a roadmap to next year’s Summit is postponed.

Much of the pledges of funding to help developing countries are put off for a few more years. Glasgow picks up on rich countries’ commitment to raise $ 100 billion annually for the global south by 2025, something they committed to doing for more than a decade. It also includes the commitment that, by that year, developed countries double their contribution to the adaptation fund for the global south. These long-term promises have been received with great regret by countries that, today, are already suffering the devastating consequences of the ecological disaster and that still do not know if they will endure the pulse of an increasingly extreme crisis.

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After two grueling weeks of tug of war In the negotiations, everything indicates that Glasgow will be remembered for postponing, once again, the launch of the global pacts against the climate crisis. But if this summit can boast of something, it is a step forward that, perhaps, could change the rules of the game. According to the Glasgow agreement, from now on there will be a new program led by the United Nations in charge of monitoring the deployment of climate policies. This committee will present annual reports on how much each country pollutes. So, starting next year at least we will know who complies and who cheats.

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