Wrestling for COP26 declaration: “Moment of Truth” in Glasgow

Status: 13.11.2021 6:58 p.m.

The UN climate summit is nearing its end. The delegations discussed a new draft final declaration. Some points are still in dispute. Summit President Sharma called on states to show willingness to compromise.

At the World Climate Conference in Glasgow, the representatives of several countries came closer together on key points of negotiation. The delegates met in an informal plenary session to discuss the latest draft resolution. The British summit president Alok Sharma appealed to around 200 states to adopt the new draft for a final declaration. “While not every aspect will be welcomed by everyone, overall it is a package that really moves things forward,” said Sharma

The text is “ambitious and balanced” and leaves no topic or country behind, Sharma said in plenary. It will also open up the opportunity to finally bring the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement into full force. Sharma then asked the delegates to seek consensus after an extension of almost 24 hours. “Friends, the world is looking to us. And it awaits an agreement for the good of the planet and current and future generations.”

Sharma insists on compromises

Initially, Sharma had postponed the probably decisive plenary for hours because of heated discussions. Originally, the summit should have ended on Friday. However, groups of dozens of delegates formed several times and were excitedly talking to each other, reported the dpa news agency. “Please don’t ask yourself what else to ask for. Please ask yourself if the package isn’t enough for all of us,” Sharma said. The conference as a whole will succeed or fail as a whole, he warned. The negotiators have arrived at a “moment of truth” for their children, grandchildren and the planet, said Sharma.

The climate expert of the development organization Oxfam, Jan Kowalzig, who has been observing UN climate conferences for more than 15 years, told the AFP news agency that Sharma’s statements did not mean that the negotiations would end really quickly. Rather, “the presidency is trying, as always, to put pressure on to bring the conference to a quick end.” However, there is still a need for negotiations in Glasgow that Sharma cannot ignore.

India blocks, Germany increases

The G77 group of developing countries has already waived its demand that the final document should explicitly provide for the establishment of a financial institution that provides funds to deal with climate-related damage and losses. The spokesman for the G77, Ahmadou Sebory Toure from Guinea, said the paper left open the possibility that such an institution could be launched at a later date.

India tried, however, to weaken a formulation on the coal phase-out in the final declaration. Developing and emerging countries have a right to the responsible use of fossil fuels, said Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav. He criticized the request contained in the paper to get out of subsidies for fossil fuels. These could have an important social function. Unsustainable lifestyles and waste in rich countries are ultimately responsible for global warming.

Germany pledged additional support for poor countries that have suffered damage and losses in the climate crisis. Together with other European countries, a total of 35 million US dollars will be mobilized, reported the news agency dpa. Accordingly, it is about “technical support” under the umbrella of the so-called Santiago network, for example after hurricanes, droughts or floods, and not about compensation for complete damage. The joint commitment of the Environment and Development Ministry should be a “sign of solidarity” in the decisive phase of the summit of 200 countries.

“Don’t destroy the moment”

EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, on the other hand, was largely satisfied with the negotiating texts. The fact that it contained a call for the first time to phase out the climate-damaging use of coal was “a pretty historical thing,” he told the AFP news agency. Nevertheless, he also warned of the failure of the World Climate Conference in the last few meters. “For heaven’s sake: Don’t destroy this moment,” he called to the country delegations, reported dpa. Timmermans compared the COP26 with a marathon in which you stumble shortly before the finish line.

Every nation has its own legitimate interests and he admits that many questions are still at the beginning, said Timmermans. But: “I beg you to accept this text,” said the Dutch EU Commissioner for Climate Protection. “I want each of us to think of a person who will still be there in 2030,” said Timmermans. Everyone should ask themselves under what conditions this person will live if one loses sight of the desired goal of stopping the global warming at 1.5 degrees.

Discussions on third draft text

It is the third draft text that is being discussed. A draft with formulations on climate change, on financing for developing and emerging countries, on getting out of coal. And these texts should be the basis for an agreement in Glasgow. The draft resolution formulates the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees more clearly than the Paris Climate Agreement. To this end, greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 45 percent compared to 2010 by 2030.

The states are also being asked to submit new national climate targets for 2030 as early as 2022, three years earlier than planned. The draft also contains an invitation to phase out coal. Such a passage would be a first in the main resolution of a climate conference. A faster global exit from coal and the expansion of renewable energies would be strong signals, said Christoph Bals from Germanwatch ARD.

For example, several countries, including Germany, are helping South Africa with the transition from coal-fired power plants to renewable energies. A corresponding initiative was presented to Glasgow. Nine coal-fired power plants are to be closed by 2030, and there is to be retraining for mine workers; the country has set ambitious climate targets. A role model for many other countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and India, say environmentalists.

Criticism of India, China and the USA

However, there are also negative points. “The disappointment of the conference is that the major emitters have not moved and we therefore do not know whether 1.5 degrees is still within reach,” said Bals, referring to India, China and the USA.

Martin Kaiser, Managing Director of Greenpeace, draws a mixed balance: “I think the conference still owes the answer, with which immediate measures the gap to 1.5 degrees will be closed and how concretely the countries are now being supported,” he says ARD. “I think there are great disappointments and at the same time a mandate for a country like Germany to set up politics now so that we get on the 1.5-degree path.”

With information from Christoph Prössl, ARD-Studio London, currently Glasgow

Conference interrupted until Saturday morning

Christoph Prössl, ARD London, 11/13/2021 5:32 p.m.


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