World climate conference struggles to reach agreement on carbon credit trading

Negotiations at COP26 are up to the last minute, however, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault says an agreement is looming on financing loss and damage for developing nations affected by global warming.

“I think we are close to a landing zone in (loss and damage financing),” Guilbeault told reporters at a news conference on Friday afternoon, before addressing an afternoon session of negotiations.

“I’m not sure the text we saw today it reflects where those talks are, so I think we’re closer to that than we might think, ”he added, referring to the latest draft texts that offer a glimpse of what countries can agree to before leaving the climate summit of the Two-week UN in Glasgow, Scotland.

Financing loss and damage caused by climate change is a critical issue for developing countries, who were first promised $ 100 billion annually by 2020 from rich countries to invest in mitigation and adaptation projects. The latest figures from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggest that the $ 100 billion target won’t be reached until 2023 at the earliest.

No amount of funding to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate can restore the damage caused by floods, wildfires, droughts, increasingly powerful storms and more caused by climate collapse. Pacific island states in particular, which are at risk of losing their homes due to rising sea levels, are asking rich countries to pay for losses and damages due to their enormous role in causing the climate crisis.

If the COP26 negotiations close without a deal or signal for increased climate finance, including specific measures for financing loss and damage, some climate advocates believe that the Paris Agreement itself is at risk of being undermined. given that the $ 100 billion commitment was a key component in gaining support from developing countries.

Guilbeault used the press conference as an opportunity to highlight areas in which Canada has made progress.

“Inside those negotiating rooms, behind closed doors in bilateral meetings, I heard genuine recognition for the constructive role that Canada is playing in the climate fight,” he said.

“I think it’s important that Canadians listen to it and take pride in the fact that in recent years we have accomplished a lot… to put Canada on the path to achieving the kinds of emission reductions that we have promised. since the 1990s and, too often, they have not been fulfilled. “

The independent Climate Action Tracker still classifies Canada’s climate policies as “very insufficient”Based on actually implemented policies. The tracker calls Canada’s revised 2030 target “not entirely compatible with Paris,” but acknowledges December’s revised Ottawa climate plan and new measures announced in the 2021 Budget.

COP26 negotiations are up to the last minute and climate advocates warn that the Paris Agreement runs the risk of being undermined by a bad deal. # COP26 #cdnpoli # COP26xCNO

Canada Announced Earlier this year, it would double its international climate finance from $ 2.65 billion to $ 5.3 billion over the next five years. He also said he would increase the amount of money awarded in grants from 30 percent to 40 percent, and Guilbeault said Canada was striving for a better balance between financing mitigation and adaptation. But Canada does not commit to any specific amount for a loss and damage fund, unlike Scotland, which announced on thursday would put £ 2 million on the table for loss and damage.

Obligation, not charity, says Scottish leader

“It is clear that fair climate finance is the key to achieving real progress at COP26,” Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement.

“All my conversations with delegates from the global south during these two weeks, and the obvious need to increase the general ambition of the draft cover text published yesterday, have convinced me that rich countries must do more in finance in the last hours of the COP. if we want to ensure the best possible result. That is not charity, it is our obligation ”.

The manager of international climate diplomacy for the Canada Climate Action Network, Eddy Pérez, said that Canada came to COP26 with policies like the zero net liability law and the doubling of climate finance, which gives it some credibility.

“As we await the end of the COP, we need Minister Guilbeault to champion the additional efforts that are needed to really signal to the world that we are going to leave this place with a clear message that limiting global warming to 1.5 is the way to protect us from future harm, ”he said.

Lives ‘depend’ on these decisions

In a separate press conference, representatives of leading environmental organizations urged countries to close COP26 with a strong statement that recognizes the importance of financing for loss and damage, and outlines steps to uphold the Paris Agreement goal of no more 1.5 C heating at your fingertips.

“Everyone’s life around the world depends on the decisions that are made in the next few hours,” said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

“We need an agreement that significantly increases financial support to countries on the front lines of the climate crisis, and not through loan mechanisms that further paralyze countries that are already heavily indebted and trying to respond to the pandemic.” , said.

Greenpeace International CEO Jennifer Morgan said the latest draft of the text has introduced a major loophole that would undermine the Paris Agreement if countries don’t reverse course.

“This new proposal would give polluters the right to scam by allowing indefinite double counting of an emissions reduction that only happened once … or may not have happened at all,” he said.

Critics call carbon offsets a free pass to pollute

Morgan is referring to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, a complex set of rules hotly debated in Glasgow that would pave the way for countries to trade emission reduction credits with each other with the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse effect. For fans, it is a way of working together cooperatively for the health of a shared atmosphere. For critics, it is a shell game, where emission reductions may not actually be realized by countries that might choose to pursue emissions reductions on paper by purchasing offset credits.

“This invitation to greenwash through carbon offsetting is turning the Paris Agreement into a sham,” Morgan said.

“If it goes ahead, well, these governments are giving the big polluters … a free pass to pollute under the guise of (being) carbon neutral, without actually having to cut their emissions.”

Guilbeault did not close the door to the possibility of Canada using Article 6 credits to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, but said he did not plan to do so.

“Our plan currently envisages reaching 100 percent of our emissions reductions at home … Could we use it in the future? Perhaps, but it is not in our plans at this time,” he said.

In a statement, the executive director of Indigenous Climate Action, Eriel Deranger, criticized governments for including the language of human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples in the negotiations without listening to indigenous peoples’ concerns about carbon offsets. .

“It means nothing if they are also giving dirty corporations and highly polluting nations ways to ‘offset’ their emissions by buying and trading the air and our lands and territories,” he said.

“Governments must take the appropriate measures to correct the course and adequately address this crisis by defending our rights so that we can do what we have always done: protect the earth for our children and for all life on this planet.”

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