Financial assistance

Countries still miles from each other in their positions ahead of Glasgow climate summit


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The next United Nations climate meeting in Glasgow, due to start in six weeks, could be one of the most difficult for diplomats to navigate since such meetings began more than two decades ago.

Why is this important: The top comes as scientists warn that the window to keep alive the most ambitious and longest temperature target in the Paris Agreement is almost closed, but emission reductions are urgently needed to avoid potentially catastrophic climate impacts.

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  • Many countries, especially low-lying island nations, see this peak as their best chance for survival as the ice caps melt and sea levels rise. For them, failure is not an option.

  • But failure is on the table for Glasgow.

Driving the news: Ahead of the UN General Assembly, the outlook for the Glasgow climate summit seemed dark. It thinned out, but not by much – maybe to a lighter shade of gray.

  • There are wide gaps between countries on key issues, as well as a worrying sense of mistrust between the industrialized and the developing world that could derail the whole summit.

  • Two important announcements at the General Assembly helped to shake things up. The United States has pledged to double its public climate finance commitment to $ 11.4 billion per year, and China has announced it will end construction of coal-fired power plants abroad.

  • These two steps come with important caveats – the US commitment must go through Congress, while China has said nothing about stopping the use of domestic coal.

  • Regardless of the size of the asterisks, these announcements show that it is recognized that the two largest emitters have a responsibility to take further action.

Inventory: Different officials have their own views on what constitutes a “successful” climate summit, but there are commonalities. These include:

  • More aggressive plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, while on track to net zero by 2050, especially by the richest and most emitting G20 countries greenhouse gas emissions to date.

  • Persuade developed countries to provide more financial assistance to help developing countries reduce their emissions while resisting climate shocks from extreme weather events, sea level rise and other impacts.

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres is seeking a 50/50 split between funding for mitigation and funding for adaptation, but the US, EU and others have not joined.

  • It is possible that the adaptation expense is one of the items finalized only in the mad, teary-eyed race for exits at the end of the summit.

What they say : In an interview with Washington Post Live on Thursday, COP26 President Alok Sharma defined success as: “We must be able to credibly say that we have kept 1.5 ° alive” – ​​the goal set by the Paris agreement.

  • Sharma said this requires looking at emission reduction commitments made before and during the summit. A recent UN report found that commitments made to date would instead take us to a disastrous level of 2.7 ° C (4.9 ° F) above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

  • “Then if there is a gap, we have to introduce ourselves as a country, how are we going to close that gap in this decisive decade. I mean, basically, time is up, there will be no no second chance, ”Sharma said. .

To note : Tina Stege, the climate envoy for the Marshall Islands, a low-lying island nation that has played a key role in achieving the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree target, told Axios that This week’s developments had given him “cautious optimism,” but huge obstacles remain. in order to bring countries together towards a more ambitious agreement in Glasgow.

  • His government’s top priorities during the preparation for COP26 and at the summit include securing more emission reduction commitments from other countries that are consistent with the 1.5 degree target, and increased funding for adaptation.

  • Even with the additional commitment from the United States, she noted that the $ 100 billion in annual financial assistance from developed countries, an amount first pledged in 2009, will not be fully met.

  • Stege said if that was still the case in Glasgow, countries like the one she represents would need to see a plan to go the rest of the way.

During this time, Nigel Topping, the UNFCCC’s high-level climate action champion, told Axios that while the pace of formal negotiations is slow, the private sector is gaining momentum as companies and, indeed, entire industries are developing a clean energy transition FOMO.

  • Net zero goals among businesses and cities are becoming a global norm, he told Axios, and trillions are being spent on the transition to low-carbon fuels.

The bottom line: Those involved in the climate summit may have dodged a train wreck ahead of the COP, but it’s by no means clear that these talks will meet Sharma’s definition of success. Or for that matter, the definition of climate success, which is to stop and worship the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, and to limit the damage of global warming.

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