Glasgow climate summit deal leaves many unhappy - GulfToday

Glasgow climate summit deal leaves many unhappy


World leaders stand for a group photo during a session at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

The Conference of Parties (CoP26) in Glasgow, the UN Climate Summit, nearly ended on a sour note when India backed by China and other developing economies, changed the final statement about coal to “phasing down” instead of “phasing out.”

There were murmurs of dissent but conference chairman Alok Sharma brought the gavel down to signal the statement was adopted by the 200 countries. Coal and other fossil fuels were the problem.

India, China, and others, including Australia, which exports high quality coal, were not willing to give up on it. United States climate envoy John Kerry said, “If it’s a good negotiation, all the parties are uncomfortable. And this has been, I think, a good negotiation.”

But the climate activists were disappointed. Greta Thunberg, the teen heroine of climate activism, dismissed the Glasgow conference as “Blah, blah, blah!” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today.”

It has been urged that the big deal that could not be clinched in Glasgow would have to be done in CoP27 in Sharm-al-Sheikh in Egypt in 2022 and in CoP28 in Dubai in 2023, where commitments to cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 have to be agreed upon because that is the only way to keep to the Paris 2014 commitment of keeping the global temperature to 1.5 Degrees Celsius by 2100 to avert climate catastrophe.

India had come in for much criticism for the last-minute change in the final text of the Glasgow pact about coal. Indian Environment Minister Bhupinder Yadav defended the position, saying “We made our effort to make a consensus that is reasonable for developing countries and reasonable for climate justice.” But other countries were discontented and unhappy. Mexico’s Envoy Camila Isabel Zepeda Lizama said, “We believe we have been sidelined in a non-transparent and non-inclusive process. We all have remaining concerns but were told we could not reopen the text…while others can still ask to water down their promises.”

Many of the observers of the Glasgow climate summit jamboree predicted that it would be difficult to achieve any success because the leaders spoke in the general eloquent terms about the crisis but made no definite commitments.

It was left to the low-level delegates to thrash out the details, and it was no easy task. Many of the delegations of bigger countries like India and China had to defend the national interests of their respective countries. They did not want to sacrifice their economic growth models and goals. That is why, in the final stage, it was the delegates of the United States, the European Union (EU), China and India, which altered the language of the text and arrived at a compromise because otherwise the conference would have had to end without a pact.

Former Irish president Mary Robinson described the pact “some progress, but nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster…People will see this as a historically shameful dereliction of duty.”

Helen Mountford of World Resources Institute said that India’s “demand” may not mean much because coal is becoming obsolete because renewable sources are cheaper and efficient. “Coal is dead. Coal is being phased out. It’s a shame they watered it down.”

It was clear before Glasgow and it remains clear after Glasgow that as the United States refused to accept restrictions on carbon emissions as far back as George W Bush’s presidency, India and China are now able to force their demands because they are the big economies.

But the victory of the big countries is short-lived because the climate crisis is a disaster for all the countries in the world, big and small, developed and developing, rich and poor, powerful and weak.

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