The COP26 climate conference has come to an end, but is unlikely to satisfy some of its more outspoken critics. Reuters i Washington Post report that the United Nations-led summit has reached a final agreement on efforts to accelerate emission reductions and otherwise maintain the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5C. There are some areas where the new arrangement (which the UN invoices as the Glasgow Climate Pact) could offer significant progress, but there are also concerns that it does not hold countries to stricter standards – including moving away from coal energy.
In negotiations that resumed about a day after the original November 12 deadline, representatives of China and India successfully changed the language in the COP26 agreement, which called on countries to “gradually reduce” undiminished coal use instead of “phasing it out.” While COP26 President Alok Sharma and delegates from a number of countries wanted a stricter language, Sharma said it was “vital” to protect the agreement. However, there are concerns that this will give coal-dependent countries such as China and India an excuse to avoid tougher emission reduction commitments.
Previous critics have condemned richer countries for failing to deliver on a promise to give poorer countries $ 100 billion a year by 2023 to help them cope with climate change. The Glasgow agreement only committed to drafting a new plan for the next three years.
The final pact includes some significant measures. Countries are asked to “reconsider and strengthen” their plans for climate change before the end of 2022 New Scientist noticed. Similarly, there is a strategy to resolve long-standing disputes over global carbon credit markets. A number of countries have pledged to reduce methane emissions and halt deforestation, and the agreement called for a reduction in fossil fuel subsidies. Separately, the U.S. and China have reached an agreement to limit climate change in the 2020s, including China’s new recognition that methane has a significant impact on temperature rise.
However, there are fears that the COP26 arrangement is generally too soft. It does not set many binding goals. The final language only “requires” that countries, for example, reconsider their plans. The pact could encourage some countries to step up their environmental initiatives, but others could face relatively small consequences if they fail.
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