COP26 climate change talks enter their final days: live updates
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GLASGOW – This is when the going gets tough. Really difficult.
There are two days left for international negotiations aimed at stemming the catastrophic levels of global warming. Two days to iron out differences over what goes into the outcome document that will come out of the annual United Nations summit and serve as a guide for the global fight against climate change.
Each country must agree on every word of the text. If the negotiators huddled inside the huge conference center here had windows from which they could look, they could remember the stakes. On the banks of the River Clyde, just behind the center, is a 230-foot-long art installation made up of 3,723 LED lights. “No new worlds,” one reads.
On Wednesday, summit organizers released a first draft agreement that called on countries, by the end of 2022, to “review and strengthen” their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to “accelerate phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies. “
If left in the final version, the language on coal and government fossil fuel subsidies would be a first for a UN climate deal. But environmental groups said the rest of the document was too vague on crucial details.
Money is one of the big differences hanging over the final negotiations, which will focus on finding consensus among the nearly 200 nations represented. Rich countries have failed to provide $ 100 billion a year by 2020, as they had promised, for poor and middle-income countries to move their energy systems away from fossil fuels and adapt to the impacts of change climate. This year, there is pressure to create another kitty to offset the irreparable damage of climate change in the countries least responsible for the problem, a fund for so-called “loss and damage”, and a fund that rich countries have stalled for almost 30 years.
There is also disagreement over the call to end fossil fuel subsidies, carbon market rules and whether countries should come back each year with new climate targets instead of every five years.
The calls for tougher action from activists and nations are growing louder. Scientific consensus demands that countries around the world limit the increase in global average temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, between pre-industrial times and the end of this century. Beyond this threshold, the risks of deadly heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, floods and species extinction increase considerably.
At the moment, that goal is not within reach – far from near, in fact, according to the latest independent analysis from Climate Action Tracker.
Still, there was promising news from Wednesday night’s summit, when the United States and China, the world’s two biggest polluters and their biggest rivals, announced a deal to “raise ambition” on the change. climate change and do more to reduce emissions this decade. . China also first pledged to cut methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and said it will “gradually cut back” on coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, from 2026.
But both promises came without a clear timeline – a reminder that in these climate talks, the promises are easier than the details.
With just two days to go for the Glasgow climate summit, time is running out. This is not the case, the list of obstacles that negotiators still face.
Four stand out.
REDUCTION OF EMISSIONS As part of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement, each nation agreed that humanity should “continue to work” to keep warming just 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The initial promises in Paris would not get the world there, but over time it was hoped that nations would redouble their efforts. How exactly to speed up action remains a major source of contention.
PAY THE INVOICE Money has long been a sticking point in the fight against climate change, and it was no different in Glasgow. Developing countries are urged to step up their shift away from coal and other fossil fuels, but say they lack the financial resources to do so and rich countries have been stingy on aid. The richest economies in the world have pledged to do more, but still fall short of their promises.
REPAIRS When climate-induced storms take their toll, it is often the poorest nations that suffer, even if they have done little to contribute to the problem. Claims for compensation continue to grow.
CARBON COMPENSATION The Paris agreement called for regulating the rapidly growing global market for carbon offsets, but this is an extremely dense and technical subject. Negotiators are still trying to find a way through the thicket.
Activists who have traveled from around the world to Glasgow to participate in global climate talks and protest on the sidelines have expressed disappointment at what they see as empty promises from world leaders.
Yet many have also found a new unity in their ranks and a renewed sense of purpose as they come together to demand urgent action, further strengthening a global climate movement that has transcended borders.
For young activists in particular, who have led some of the most urgent calls to action and who have staged the biggest climate protest in Glasgow, the two-week conference known as COP26 provided a moment to lobby in favor of climate justice while raising some less heard. voice.
Protests linked to COP26, the United Nations climate summit, peaked on Friday and Saturday, drawing tens of thousands to the streets of Glasgow.
This is what I saw →
Evelyn Acham, a 30-year-old Ugandan activist, was attending her first United Nations climate conference. She said the protests provided a platform for communities on the front lines of the climate crisis who are least responsible for the emissions responsible for global warming.
“People need to learn something from what just happened,” she said of the marches in Glasgow. “We don’t leave Glasgow the same way, we don’t leave the world the same way.”
Ms Acham represents a group called Fridays for Future MAPA, which stands for Most Affected People and Areas, a branch of the climate advocacy group that emerged from Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg’s solo school strike that began in 2018. Ms Acham praised the opportunity for activists like her – who often face repression of dissent in their home country – to reunite with their counterparts from around the world.
Luisa Neubauer, a 25-year-old woman who founded the German branch of Fridays for Future, said that while “governments have been great at making promises and commitments and setting goals,” at previous conferences they haven’t have not yet acted.
Last year, Ms Neubauer won a lawsuit against the German government, in which a judge ruled that the country’s climate protection measures were insufficient. She said solidarity in the global climate movement was growing and the high participation in the protests showed “what a human movement on the streets can look like.”
“You see the faces of the climate crisis, you will see people who look like you and me who really care, who walked in the rain,” she said. “And we’re really saying it’s power and it’s a people who don’t let go of their own future and their own gifts. And it is beautiful.
Many of the most prominent climate justice activists come from the Fridays for Future movement. President Barack Obama acknowledged the impact of the mostly young protesters in a speech to the conference on Monday. “They are forming a movement beyond borders to make the older generation who got us into this mess understand that we all have an obligation to get out of this,” he said.
As the conference draws to a close on Friday and negotiators from some 200 countries try to reach a deal, activists said they are not only looking for more ambitious targets to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also a recognition that the global response to climate change has long neglected the needs of developing countries.
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