The final agreement of COP26 extends what cannot be extended

The final agreement of COP26 extends what cannot be extended
Glasgow leaves behind millions of people affected by climate change.
  • Although the Climate Summit in Glasgow has been led by the discourse of the climate emergency, the final agreements postpone all the necessary measures to confront it.
  • An immense majority of countries express their discontent with the final text because it does not meet the expectations of the desired ambition, but they decide to sign it in order to continue keeping alive the flame of joint work against the climate fight.
  • The abandonment of fossil fuel subsidies and financing aspects have been two of the cornerstones of the negotiations.
  • Ecologists in Action considers that the agreement stagnates the climate fight and does not respond to the consequences of global warming that millions of people around the planet are already suffering.

After more than two weeks of negotiations, an agreement has just been reached at the Glasgow Climate Summit. A text has been approved that leaves the vast majority of countries dissatisfied but, however, has been signed in pursuit of consensus and being able to continue working together against global warming.

En este marco, Ecologistas en Acción se suma a las palabras expresadas por los mismos como las de la representante de las Islas Marshall: “Para países como el mío, que deberán transformar el entorno físico en los próximos años para sobrevivir a los embates del cambio climático, este acuerdo es un paso extremadamente crítico que no nos podemos permitir perder”.

The final phase of the negotiations has been rushed in the last few hours, to the surprise of analysts, journalists and observers. Although the initial draft presented by the British Presidency a few days ago received firm criticism from the majority of the Parties for its weakness and lack of commitment, in the last balance plenary session there have been many who have shown their support for a new version of the text. The surprising thing, according to Ecologistas en Acción, is that this new version not only does not strengthen the initial draft but weakens it.

The weakness of the approved text is evident, first of all, in its wording. According to Irene Rubiera, spokesperson for Ecologistas en Acción in Glasgow, “it loses all the binding nature that was required of this agreement. There is no verb in the text that generates a legal binding, that is, an obligation for the countries to act, they are all invitations, recommendations and requests.”

Furthermore, the final agreement lacks specificity in the measures, clear times and a real commitment to financing. “This is an empty agreement that anyone would sign. It says that we must fight the climate emergency but it does not specify when or how it will be done or, above all, with what financing,” Rubiera continues.

Para Javier Andaluz, coordinador de Clima y Energía de Ecologistas en Acción, “la falta de compromisos claros de los países del Norte global sobre la financiación así como sobre la transferencia de tecnologías y capacidades entre países, deja en grave riesgo a millones de personas en el planeta que ya se ven afectadas por el cambio climático”.

The key points of the agreement

The Glasgow agreement is made up of a complex package of articles referring to mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and financing. Below are the most important themes of the text as well as their assessment by Ecologistas en Acción:

  1. Acceptance of the climate emergency discourse. The final text adopted by the Glasgow Summit includes the conclusions raised in the latest IPCC reports, which raise the need to reduce global emissions by at least 45 % by 2030. Although, as some countries have expressed, this marks a milestone and turning point in climate summits, its weakness lies in the fact that it does not have binding capacity nor is it linked to the review of countries' commitments.
  2. Review of country commitments. According to the final declaration, this review will begin next year by updating the standards approved within the negotiations and will be reviewed every five years. This is a step that, a priori, constitutes progress since it requires that action begin now. However, the lack of link to this review being in accordance with science makes it very difficult to guarantee that temperatures rise above 1.5 ºC is avoided.
  3. Explicit mention of the abandonment of fossil fuel subsidies. This has been one of the most controversial points of the Climate Summit and why the negotiations were almost blocked. On the positive side, it has been achieved that, for the first time in this framework, this divestment is included in the final text. That is to say, the climate fight requires countries to stop subsidizing the most polluting companies.

However, due to pressure mainly from India, its inclusion in the text has gone from being a single, strongly worded paragraph to a mere recommendation to countries that they should “increase their efforts to abandon inefficient carbon subsidies.” ”. Precisely the word 'inefficient' is the one that has caused the most discomfort to a large number of countries that see in this concession to India a danger that the measure will not be effective.

  1. Loss and damage, that is, the fund to finance the catastrophic impacts of climate change. At this point, which should have been the center of COP26, hardly any agreements have been reached. In the final text, it is positive that the Warsaw Mechanism is continued and its implementation instrument, the Santiago Network, is initiated. However, the agreement does not guarantee the creation of a fund to address these losses and damages because instead of creating a fund, what it does is initiate a dialogue to create a fund. This process will delay the arrival of this financing, which was one of the main demands of the countries most affected by climate change.
  2. Adaptation funds. Increasing these funds by 2025 was another of the demands raised at this summit. As a positive aspect, the final declaration includes the need to double adaptation financing on 2019 levels by this date. But this figure is insufficient if we consider that the projections show a higher cost than set. Furthermore, the reference to the year 2019 introduced in the final text reduces this amount, since if it were set on current levels, it would be much higher.
  3. Green Climate Fund. This $100 billion fund was promised in 2009 to be provided by 2020. Although the urgency of the delay was expected to be achieved in Glasgow, the agreement has been closed with a disappointing result: not only has it not been possible to obtain the financing for make it a reality but its review is postponed again until 2025.
  4. Article 6: international cooperation mechanisms. COP26 has been able to approve at the last moment the mechanisms included in Article 6 that had been blocked for several years. For Ecologists in Action, these mechanisms could in themselves constitute a violation of the climate fight. One of the main dangers is what is known as double counting (counting the same greenhouse gas reduction twice), something that India or Brazil have raised at this COP26.

While the international community has been able to remove double counting from Article 6, the Human Rights language - which was an imperative for most countries in the global South and indigenous communities - has not been sufficiently reflected.

Consensus negotiations

Approval of climate summit texts can only be achieved with the consensus of all countries. There is no voting system and if a single country blocks any of the points, the negotiations return to zero.

On numerous occasions Ecologists in Action has questioned how this consensus only benefits the most polluting countries and companies, which with their attitude can block positions that are shared by a large majority. That is to say, as has happened at this summit, minority positions can stop agreements that are good for the planet and those territories that are already being deeply affected by the consequences of climate change.

For Javier Andaluz, “we have held many summits seeing how, in pursuit of understanding between countries, weak agreements are reached that are incapable of complying with scientific indications and guaranteeing a future for many people and ecosystems. The international community should consider who it wants to continue putting fossil companies and countries at the center of the climate fight or whether it will listen to the most vulnerable countries. “It is unfeasible to move forward with an agreement that does not meet the minimum ambition set by the best available science.”