Four Big Barriers as Nations Work to Negotiate a New Global Climate Deal

GLASGOW – Organizers of the United Nations climate summit on Wednesday released first draft The signing of a new global agreement to combat global warming calls on countries to “reconsider and strengthen” their plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022 and “accelerate the phasing out of subsidies for coal and fossil fuels”.

The language on coal and government fossil fuel subsidies would be a first for a UN climate agreement if it stays in the final version. But many countries and environmentalists said the remainder of the document was still too vague on important details, such as what kind of financial aid richer countries should provide to the poorer struggling with climate disasters and the costs of adaptation.

The draft “is not the defining language that this moment requires,” said Aubrey Webson, president of the Alliance of Small Island States, which is among the countries most threatened by climate change.

The world’s nations must cut global emissions from fossil fuels in about half this decade to prevent average global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to pre-industrial levels, scientists said. It is this threshold at which the risks of deadly heat waves, drought, wildfires, flooding and species extinction grow enormously. The planet has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Negotiators here from nearly 200 countries will demand significant changes in the remaining days as they enter the final, most challenging phase of negotiations. By tradition, a final agreement requires all parties to sign it – if any nation objects, talks could end in stalemate.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned from London to Glasgow on Wednesday to urge countries to put aside their differences and reach a final agreement. “The world has heard leaders from every country stand here and acknowledge the need for action,” he said. “And if we fail to do that, the world will find it absolutely incomprehensible.”

But persuading nations around the world, many of whom depend on fossil fuels for energy and have their own domestic policies and vested interests, to move in a new direction is a herculean challenge..

China, now the world’s largest polluter, issued a joint statement Wednesday with its rival and second-largest polluter, the United States, to work together on an “existential crisis.”

The two countries agreed to cooperate on efforts to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy and cut emissions faster this decade, but they did not set a specific timetable. Previously, China has promised to reach an emissions peak before 2030 without setting a firm date, and US officials have forced their Chinese counterparts to act more aggressively. China has also made a commitment to tackle methane emissions for the first time.

Small island states like the Maldives, inhabited for thousands of years but predicted to be submerged by rising seas for generations, want all countries to cut emissions as quickly as possible. oil and coal producers such as Russia and Australia they are not so eager to eliminate fossil fuels quickly. And like major developing countries India seeks financial aid to transition to cleaner energy.

There are four main areas of contention as negotiators try to reach an agreement before the summit ends on November 12.

Below the bookmark 2015 Paris climate agreementEach nation agreed that humanity should limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) “well below” pre-industrial levels, and “pursue efforts” to keep warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius.

To achieve this goal, each country agreed to submit its own plan to move away from fossil fuels and prevent deforestation, and to update these plans every five years. While everyone agreed that the initial promises made in Paris were inadequate, the hope was that with time the nations would take action and move closer to the goal.

But there are a few big problems.

First, the ratcheting process was slow and erratic. Before the Glasgow summit, most countries presented new commitments Some, such as the US and the European Union, have pledged to make deeper cuts this decade. But others, such as Australia, Brazil and Russia, have barely strengthened their short-term plans. And while many governments have announced new “net zero” emissions commitments for 2050 or 2060, they lack clear plans to get there.

Analysts found that the world was most likely on its way to warming when they added in the short-term commitments, which tend to be the most detailed and tangible. 2.4 to 2.7 degrees Celsius this century. This is a clear improvement, according to Paris, but would still increase the likelihood of climate disasters that could exacerbate hunger, disease and conflict.

On top of that, many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, such as Ethiopia and Bhutan, want to reconsider the overall temperature targets set in Paris. They say so, based on newer scienceThe world must limit warming to a stricter target of 1.5 degrees Celsius or they will face unmanageable disasters.

“1.5 degrees is what we need to survive,” Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley said last week. “Two degrees are a death sentence for the people of Antigua and Barbuda, Maldives, Domenica, Fiji, Kenya, Mozambique, Samoa and Barbados.”

How to accelerate climate efforts remains a major source of contention.

Many vulnerable countries called the nations to return to the UN each year with stronger plans until the world is on the way to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Currently, countries are not expected to update their plans until 2025, which some fear may be too late.

But this proposal faces opposition from fossil fuel producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia. There’s not even a consensus that the official target should be 1.5 degrees C: the United States and the European Union have vocally supported the stricter target, but some major emitters like China to hesitate reopening this discussion.

The current draft fences in on these issues. It warns of the dangers of rising above 1.5 degrees and “calls” countries to strengthen their short-term plans by the end of 2022.

Money is big for a long time nodal point Tensions on and over the global fight against climate change have flared up again in Glasgow.

President Biden and European leaders have insisted that developing countries such as India, Indonesia or South Africa should accelerate their move away from coal and other fossil fuels. But these countries say they lack the financial resources to do so, and rich countries are stingy with aid.

A decade ago, the world’s richest economies pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance for poorer countries by 2020. Tens of billions of dollars a year are not enough, and they said they would only work to reach $100 billion by the end of 2023, and they said nothing about how they would close the gap.

At the same time, very little climate aid to date has gone to countermeasures to help them deal with the dangers of a warmer planet, such as seawalls or early warning systems for floods and droughts.

Vulnerable nations warn they need much more help to survive. Bangladesh, one of the largest countries at risk from rising sea levelsurged wealthy countries to offer $500 billion in aid between 2020 and 2024 that will be split equally between clean energy programs and adaptation efforts. a group of African countries, along with China, India and Indonesia, asked for even more help After 2025, up to $1.3 trillion per year. This dwarfs everything rich countries have ever been willing to offer.

The first draft is unclear on how it will progress. It urges rich countries to “at least double” funding for adaptation, but makes no mention of specific numbers or timelines. Developing countries want a much clearer plan to provide assistance going forward and set global targets for cohesion.

“We are extremely concerned about the lack of progress on financial issues,” said Ahmadou Sebory Touré, the chief negotiator for Guinea, speaking on behalf of the 134 developing country bloc on Wednesday.

Even as vulnerable countries beg for more climate assistance, they also point out that they will not be able to adapt to every last hurricane or famine worsened by climate change. People will still die. Villages will continue to disappear under rising seas.

Because these countries contributed so little to global warming, they wanted a separate flow of funds paid for by industrialized nations such as the United States and the European Union to offset the future devastation. they are historically responsible for most of the extra greenhouse gases now it warms the atmosphere. This issue is known as “loss and damage”.

“Many people are losing their lives, losing their future and someone has to be responsible and these people need to be compensated,” said Bangladeshi foreign minister AK Abdul Momen. He likened the matter to the method of the United States government. sued tobacco companies To save billions of dollars in high health care costs from the smoking epidemic in the 1990s.

Rich countries have historically resisted calls for a specific financing mechanism for loss and damage, fearing it could open the door to a flood of liability claims. Only the Scottish government was willing to offer certain dollar amounts. committed $1.4 million last week for victims of climate disasters.

The first draft agreement merely “reiterates the urgency” of the issue and a modest program to provide technical assistance to nations damaged by extreme weather conditions. Developing countries say this is not good enough.

“We must have clear and precise mechanisms for loss and damage,” said Milagros De Camps Germán, Dominican Republic’s deputy minister for international cooperation. “We must. We must.”

One of the most challenging issues is how to regulate the rapidly growing global market for carbon offsets. The Paris agreement, under a provision known as “Article 6”, called for clearer rules on this issue in 2015, but negotiators were unable to agree. an extremely intense and technical subject.

Carbon offsets allow countries or businesses to offset their own emissions by paying for climate programs elsewhere. But that raises tough accounting questions: If a country like Switzerland pays people in Brazil to prevent deforestation, how do you ensure that both countries don’t claim credit for the same reduction in emissions? There is also debate over how to evaluate the majority of existing carbon credits left over from an earlier UN program that has been widely criticized for issuing ineffective carbon offsets.

Some climate advocates said they would prefer negotiators leave Glasgow without a solution to these issues, rather than weak rules. “There is no point in accepting fake carbon credits that will directly increase warming into the system” Wrote Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a research institute in Kenya.

Developing countries have also requested a percentage of the proceeds from all carbon credit trading to be set aside for a cohesion fund. But the European Union criticized this ideaHe calls it “mandatory international tax”. Negotiators hope to resolve these disagreements by the end of the week.

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