UN Climate Change Conference: Overtime in Glasgow

Status: 11/12/2021 8:34 p.m.

Two weeks of negotiations and no agreement yet: The delegates to the UN climate conference in Glasgow continue to wrestle over the text of the final declaration. Environmental groups fear that in the end only a few climate protection commitments will be left.

The end of the UN climate conference in Glasgow has been delayed. Hours of debate about a possible path to a global coal exit and aid payments to poor countries slowed the conclusion. The summit was supposed to end at 6 p.m. local time (7 p.m. CET), but the British summit president Alok Sharma announced further discussions and new drafts for the final text for the evening.

There still seem to be disagreements about this final text, which the around 200 participating countries will have to unanimously resolve at the end of the climate conference. It had previously become known that calls for an accelerated phase-out of coal and an end to subsidies for fossil fuels had been significantly watered down in the latest draft.

Annette Dittert, ARD London, zzt, Glasgow, on the struggle for the final declaration of the climate summit

daily news 5:00 p.m., 11/12/2021

In a previous version it was mentioned that all states should accelerate the phase-out of coal. Now the call has been weakened with the addition “without CO2 capture”. Coal-fired power plants that use technologies to capture climate-damaging carbon dioxide are no longer affected.

In the appeal to the states to stop their subsidies for all fossil fuels, the most recent draft restricted the fact that “inefficient” subsidies are meant. This means that the promotion of natural gas infrastructure for a transition phase when switching from coal to renewable energies does not fall under this call. The proposal also restricted the call to states to review their climate protection goals more often than previously planned.

Criticism from environmentalists

Environmentalists were outraged at the slowdown. Oxfam climate expert Jan Kowalzig criticized, for example, that it would be at the discretion of the individual states which subsidies should be meant. The German Greenpeace boss Martin Kaiser said: “Now the moment has come when Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has to bring the weight of the fourth largest economy into the negotiations.” The loopholes on the subject of coal and subsidies urgently need to be closed. “Otherwise Glasgow will be a dangerous air act.”

The German climate activist Luisa Neubauer also expressed her alarm about the foreseeable resolutions: “None of this corresponds to the time pressure and the humanitarian pressure we are under.”

The environmental protection organization WWF stated that the revised draft moved “backwards in key areas”. The fact that the formulation on fossil energy has not been dropped is “an important signal”, but the restrictions must be removed again. In addition, the resolution text is “not in line with the 1.5 degrees”.

Associations also see bright spots in the draft

But from the point of view of the environmental and development associations, there are also small bright spots. The request to all countries to improve their climate protection plans for this decade by the end of 2022 was retained. However, this remains voluntary, there is no obligation. The ministers should also meet annually on the subject.

For the first time, the draft also takes up the longstanding demand of poor countries to set up a money pot for aid in the event of damage and loss. This involves, for example, destruction and forced resettlement after droughts, storm surges or hurricanes, which increase as a result of global warming. The states are asked to pay into this new “facility”. However, there is no obligation to do so, and no specific amounts are given.

Oxfam expert Kowalzig saw an improvement in the draft text when it called on the industrialized countries to double their aid to poorer countries for adaptation to climate change. Since this is now required until 2025, this appeal is “no longer an empty shell”. So there was not dissatisfaction across the board among climate protection activists and experts. “Overall, this is a compromise that gives rise to hope,” said Yamide Dagnet from the World Resources Institute.

Martin Visbeck, marine researcher at the Helmholtz Center, on the results of the climate summit

tagesschau24 2 p.m., November 12, 2021

Schulze: “Gladly ready to go into extension”

Environment Minister Schulze also emphasized the positive aspects of the draft and was cautiously optimistic about the progress of the negotiations. “Good progress is already on the table,” said the SPD politician. “For that I am also willing to go into extra time if it is necessary.” For the first time in the history of the world climate conference there is a chance to mention the coal phase-out in a final text. That is a “paradigm shift”.

Fossil fuels in particular are considered to be the main driver of global warming. The future of fuels is therefore one of the sticking points at the two-week climate summit in Glasgow. Experts agree that an exit must be implemented as soon as possible. Otherwise the goal set in the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era will not be achieved.

The conferences of previous years had all been extended. The record for the longest world climate conference is held by the COP 2018 in Katowice. Although it ended on Saturday, namely on December 15, 2018 at around 10 p.m., it had started a day earlier than usual. The longest overdraft, however, was in Madrid in 2019: At the COP25, the hammer fell on Sunday, December 15 at around 2 p.m.


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