Thursday, July 15, 2021

Will COP26 keep its promises?

 More than 100 developing countries have set out their key negotiating demands ahead of the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow. These include funding for poorer nations to fight and adapt to climate change and compensation for the impacts they will be subjected to. Without progress on these points, they say that COP26 will be worthless and will end in failure.

This new position paper is a warning shot from more than half of the world's countries, which are dismayed by the lack of progress they've seen so far - particularly at the G7 meeting in the UK in June.

"Highly vulnerable countries like Somalia are already suffering disproportionally from the impacts of climate change," said Mahdi M Gulaid, deputy prime minister of Somalia, one of the countries behind the plan. "COP 26 must be a key moment of delivery and there can be no more excuses for unfulfilled promises, particularly climate finance."

They've set out five key issues which they say are critical for them in the negotiations:

  • Cutting emissions: Despite some progress, the sum total of climate policies in place will not keep global warming within the limits that governments agreed in Paris in 2015. An acceleration of net-zero targets is urgently needed, led by those with the biggest responsibility and capacity.
  • Finance: At the failed Copenhagen COP in 2009, richer countries promised $100bn a year in climate finance by 2020, with increased annual sums from 2025. That target has not been met, say the developing countries - and it needs fixing if they are to trust the richer countries to keep to what they negotiate. This fund is intended to help those lower-income countries adapt to and fight climate change.
  • Adaptation: The developing countries are calling for at least 50% of climate finance to be used to help the most vulnerable to adapt to the effects of global warming.
  • Loss and damage: The historical failure of richer countries to cut their emissions adequately means that the most vulnerable are already experiencing permanent losses and damage. Responsibilities have to be acknowledged, say the poorer countries and promised measures delivered.
  • Implementation: Since Paris, rich and poor have haggled over issues like carbon trading and transparency. The developing countries want to see these questions finally resolved and want all countries to agree on five-year common timeframes for their national climate plans.

"Despite Covid understandably taking the headlines, climate change has been getting worse over the past year as emissions continue to rise and the lives and livelihoods on the front line suffer," said Sonam P Wangdi of Bhutan, who will chair the Least Developed Countries Group at COP26. "COP26 needs to be a summit where we see action, not words. We have enough plans: what we need is for major economies to start delivering on their promises. Our economies are suffering in the face of increased climate impacts and budgetary strains: either we invest our way out of this mess or we face a brutal decade of loss and damage."

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