COP26 summit closes with compromises made on climate deal

Article by Amanda Doyle

NEGOTIATORS finally agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact late on Saturday evening, with a compromise made that more ambitious pledges need to be made next year to limit warming to 1.5oC.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said: “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5oC alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action.”

The summit was deemed a failure by Deutsche Welle, which criticised how the language on fossil fuels was watered down from the initial draft to the final text. Initially calling for “Parties to accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”, this was changed to “unabated” coal burning and “inefficient” subsidies by the second draft. The final version only called for a “phase down” of unabated coal, due to a last-minute intervention by India and China.

Sharma said he was “deeply sorry” and said he understood “the deep disappointment” on the watered-down deal.

Under the Paris Agreement, Parties are required to submit new pledges – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) every five years. However, the new pledges submitted at COP26 will still put the world on track for 2.4oC of warming. Negotiators have agreed under the Glasgow Climate Pact that negotiators will meet at COP27 next year with new NDCs on reducing emissions with the aim of reaching the 1.5oC goal.

Negotiators failed to agree on financing for loss and damage – something that developing countries have been calling for as they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Wealthy countries initially pledged US$100bn/y in finance by 2020, which has now been pushed back to 2023. According to The Guardian, poorer nations “accepted defeat” in order to let the broader deal go through.

Shaun Spiers, Executive Director at Green Alliance, said: "The climate deal secured in Glasgow is imperfect, but we welcome the powerful signal it sends about what needs to happen now: we must all go further and act faster. If the all-important 1.5oC target is to be met, and COP26 has just about kept that on the table, all the promises made – on methane, deforestation, fossil fuels, finance, and increasing ambition – must be met.”

A deal was finally struck on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with carbon markets. According to Bloomberg Green, the agreement on Article 6 creates an international standard and will stop multiple countries claiming the same carbon credits twice. However, there are still concerns over how scrutiny will be applied, and also concerns that credits from the old market can be carried forward, leaving more “wiggle room for polluters”.

Kelley Kizzier, Vice President for Global Climate at Environmental Defense Fund, said: “The agreed Article 6 rules, while not perfect, give countries the tools they need for environmental integrity, to avoid double counting and ultimately to clear a path to get private capital flowing to developing countries. The carbon market rules allow countries to focus their efforts on ambitious implementation of their emission-cutting targets.”

UN Secretrary General Antonio Guterres said on Twitter: “The COP26 outcome is a compromise, reflecting the interests, contradictions and state of political will in the world today. It's an important step, but it's not enough. It's time to go into emergency mode. The climate battle is the fight of our lives and that fight must be won.”

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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