Introduction. Half a century lost before Glasgow. Summary of COP26. What is the Glasgow Climate Pact? Main objectives of COP26. Who were the absent leaders? The physical spaces. Opinions. COP26 conclusions
Half a century lost before Glasgow
In Stockholm-1972 the First Earth Summit was held. This meeting produced the “Stockholm Declaration”, a document comparable to the Declaration of Human Rights, oriented towards the normalization of human relations with the environment. It was thought that from then on everything would go on rails. But the opposite happened. The deforestation of forests and the emission of greenhouse gases accelerated in an unthinkable way. Twenty years had to pass until the realization of the Second Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro-1992. There, the foundations were generated for everything that was needed to win the fight against climate change with a view to the 21st century.
50 years have passed since Stockholm and 30 from Rio, but we have learned nothing from the wise advice and guides of these two fundamental summits. Nor have we assimilated the reports of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the alerts of thousands of scientists, whose opinions have often been the subject of jokes and mockery by highly influential people in our world.
This half century has been characterized by an accumulation of errors, omissions, inaccuracies and postponements in the main annual climate summit. The consequences of ignoring science have not been long in coming, let’s see:
Global temperature has set 17 records so far, this 21st century. PPM (Parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere) skyrocket, announcing more heat on Earth. In 1750 they were at 280 PPM, in 1972 they had climbed to 330 PPM, in 1992 they reached 360 PPM, in 2016 the psychological mark of 400 PPM was broken and now they are at 416.96 PPM. The numbers and the thermometer are not deceiving. They are indicators that we have not acted responsibly. Now we find ourselves in a very dangerous situation from which the more time passes, the more difficult it will be to return. And despite all this, there are still countries and corporations that insist on delaying the remedies for the planet’s disease, as we just saw at COP26.
Summary of COP26
Under the motto “Uniting the world to tackle climate change”, COP26 was held between October 31 and November 12, 2021. The meeting was in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, one of the four countries that together with England, Wales and Northern Ireland they form the United Kingdom. Finally, the summit had to be extended until Saturday the 13th to settle the controversies that arose.
Alok Sharma is the President of COP26. The summit had the active participation of António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN and Mrs. Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The main objective of COP26 is to “keep alive 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era”.
The representatives of the delegations of the 197 parties, about 130 heads of State and Government and 40,000 participants from civil society, indigenous peoples, youth groups, charities, academics, artists and companies attended.
What is the Glasgow Climate Pact?
It is a document approved during COP26. Its objective is to regulate the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It consists of 71 rules, grouped into 8 parts, namely:
- Science and urgency. II. Adaptation. III. Financing adaptation. IV. Mitigation. V. Finance, technology transfer and capacity building for mitigation and adaptation. SAW. Loss and damage. VII. Implementation and VIII. Collaboration.
The Glasgow Climate Pact was defined by the UN as “a historic pact … that for the first time makes a direct reference to ending dependence on fossil fuels.”
The document indicates that each signatory country must present its national goals and actions to reduce emissions, among others, as well as a review of its objectives in 2022. It was signed by the 197 parties of COP26. Here you can read the PDF document.
Main objectives of COP26
According to the COP26 website, four main themes were defined:
- Ensure zero emissions worldwide by mid-century and maintain 1.5ºC by 2100
To do this, countries must achieve the phase-out of carbon, curb deforestation, and accelerate the shift to greener economies.
- Adapt as much as possible to protect communities and natural habitats
As the climate is already changing, countries affected by climate change must protect and restore ecosystems, as well as build defense and warning systems, and resilient infrastructure.
- Mobilizing climate finance
At COP15, the nations with the greatest resources pledged to contribute $100 billion annually to the least developed nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further increases in temperatures. That promise has not been fulfilled neither that year nor in 2021. It is postponed to 2022.
- Work together to achieve goals
This means establishing partnerships between governments, business and civil society and fine-tuning the Paris Agreement to make it fully operational. In addition to formal negotiations, COP26 is expected to establish new initiatives and coalitions to combat the effects of climate change.
Who were the absent leaders?
Xi Jinping, President of China, addressed the conference with a written statement.
Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, stated that his absence was due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Russia.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, did not attend as his request for a security protocol was rejected.
Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, did not attend either.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico.
Ebrahim Raisi, President of Iran, through his spokesman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported that his absence is due to the fact that: “Iran is not a full member of this treaty, and the ratification process is ongoing in the country, but a delegation from Iran is participating in it”.
Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, did not attend because his country rejects the ban on the use of coal.
The Blue Zone. Space administered directly by the United Nations for the realization of the climate summit itself. In it, the plenary sessions, the meetings of the commissions of the parties, the pavilions of the participating countries and other areas of activities for the members accredited by UN Climate Change take place.
The Green Zone. Space intended for the public, civil society, indigenous peoples, youth groups, charities, academics, artists and companies so that they could make their voices heard through a program of events, workshops, talks and exhibitions to promote dialogue, awareness, education and commitments.
In this link you will find a very complete visual information, prepared by SGK-PLANET, of the physical spaces through infographics, images, diagrams, maps, plans and drawings.
Alok Sharma, President of COP26: “Now we can say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But its pulse is weak, and it will only survive if we deliver on our promises and translate commitments into swift action”.
António Guterres, UN Secretary General, said: “Unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions… Our fragile planet hangs by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of the climate catastrophe” … he reiterated: “it is time to go into emergency mode, or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero”.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “I thank the Presidency and all the ministers for their tireless efforts throughout the conference and I congratulate all the Parties for having finalized the regulation (Glasgow Climate Pact) It is an excellent achievement. It means that the Paris Agreement can now fully work for the benefit of all, now and in the future”.
El País: “Glasgow: between disappointment and hope. The failure of the climate summit reflects the difficulty of the environmental movement to keep pushing without falling into catastrophism… the summit was little more than a declaration of good intentions. Optimists struggle to point to the progress of the Glasgow Climate Summit, but can hardly offer vague, unquantifiable commitments”.
DW: “COP26… made decisions that a few years ago would have been unthinkable. But the pressure for this to happen was also enormous”, said Jens Thurau. DW’s special envoy to Glasgow said: “Was COP26 in Glasgow good or bad? As chaotic and confusing the meeting was, the points of view to answer this question are varied”.
WWF: “The closing of COP 26 is disappointing, but a narrow opportunity remains for a 1.5 °C future. Timelines and ways of operation are needed if we are to move away from fossil fuels… We came to Glasgow expecting leaders to accept a radical change in the pace and scale of climate action. While we did not get the sea change, and the agreed text is far from perfect, we are moving in the right direction”.
Greenpeace: “Although the agreement recognizes the need to reduce emissions in this decade, those commitments have been left for next year. Young people who have reached adulthood in a climate crisis will not tolerate many more outcomes like this. Why should they if they are fighting for their future?” …, Explains the executive director of Greenpeace International, Jennifer Morgan.
El Sol de México: “The Mexican delegation criticized the way in which the coal pact was reached, noting that the summit was neither inclusive nor transparent, and regretted, along with other nations, the unambitious language in the process to put an end to fossil fuels”.
El Colombiano: “There were two weeks of negotiations, agreements and disagreements, promises and commitments between 197 countries and many more organizations and private and public entities. The result is a roadmap that will literally decide the future of the planet…”.
(Hoy): Greta Thunberg “COP26 ended. Here’s a short summary: Blah-blah-blah. But the real work continues outside of those corridors. And we will never give up. Never,” the activist wrote on her Twitter account.
Conclusions from COP26
According to this summary, we can conclude that 2021, unfortunately, is one more link in the chain of the half century lost since 1972.
However, it must be recognized that during the extension day (13.11.2021), all 197 parties reached an agreement called the “Glasgow Climate Pact”, which we consider, without a doubt, the main contribution of COP26, since it is the guideline for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The Glasgow Climate Pact consists of the following parts:
- Science and urgency
III. Financing adaptation
- Finance, technology transfer and capacity building for mitigation and adaptation
- Loss and damage
It is also noteworthy that the final document includes for the first time a reference to fossil fuels in the climate crisis. India raised its objection at the last minute, which was accepted, even though it detracted from the language regarding reducing the use of coal. The controversy was created over the phrase “phase out” subsidies for coal and fossil fuels, which was eventually replaced by “gradually decrease”, which fell very badly among environmental organizations.
The final text also recognizes that coal is the largest contributor to climate change. It is the first time that an agreement mentions coal, oil, gas and fossil fuels in general, as the main causes of the climate crisis.
There was also a commitment on methane, led by the United States and the European Union, whereby more than 100 countries agreed to reduce emissions of this greenhouse gas by 2030.
On the other hand, more than 40 countries – including large coal consumers such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile – agreed to abandon coal, one of the largest generators of CO2 emissions.
The private sector also showed its commitment, with nearly 500 global financial services companies agreeing to align $130 trillion with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Regarding green transport, more than 100 national governments, cities, states and large companies signed the “Glasgow Declaration on Zero Emission Cars and Vans” to end the sale of internal combustion engines in the main markets of the world in 2040. At least 13 countries also pledged to end the sale of heavy vehicles powered by fossil fuels by that same year.
US climate envoy John Kerry said the text “is a powerful statement” and assured delegates that his country will constructively engage in a dialogue on loss and damage and adaptation, two of the most difficult issues. to get countries to agree.
The surprise of the day was that the United States and China pledged to push for climate cooperation over the next decade. In a joint statement they said, “that they had agreed to take action on a number of issues, such as methane emissions, the transition to clean energy and decarbonization”. They reiterated their commitment to maintaining the 1.5 degree target.
If this materializes, it will be great news, since they are the two largest economies on the planet ready to save Mother Earth and the life that develops on her.