DIAZ: COP 26, Hot red mess

In Summary

• Scientists and climate change have insisted that the resolutions from Glasgow are nowhere enough to avoid a climate change disaster.

• UN’s Guterres termed the deal as a compromise describing it as an important step but not enough.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is among the world leaders who addressed the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is among the world leaders who addressed the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom.
Image: PSCU

Over 55,000 delegates gathered through the first half of November in Glasgow, Scotland looking to hammer out the modalities of reversing the effects of climate change.

For the more than two weeks, new pledges were made, new promises were uttered and the imminent risks was well documented and captured.

From UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson to US President Joe Biden, Malawi’s Lazarus Chikwera and our very own President Uhuru Kenyatta, world leaders highlighted the potency of climate change as a far reaching threat to the human race.

Scientist and climate change activists also joined in the call for a radical approach to climate change reversal action by not just governments but also other stakeholders including multi-national corporations (MNCs).

In the end, this year’s Conference of Parties had been likened to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit and had been expected to yield in concrete proposals to top the planet’s descent into a climate hell.

Can kicked down the road

The finality of the conference has however been far from the good it was seen delivering in what one may argue is a half-baked resolution by members even in the shadows of looming catastrophe.

Hours to the end of the conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had already pre-empted the lack-lustre deal stating it was a tall order for countries represented to conjure up a firmed up resolution.

He feared carbon cutting pledges would not be met while stating the target of keeping the average temperature at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius was on life support.

The UN Chief could not be any closer to the truth as demonstrated in the final resolution which was signed off late in the day.

In what can only be likened to a slap in the face, resolutions to what is now known as the Glasgow Climate Pact has been watered down with the loosening of language to terms being equitable to the kicking of the can down the road.

China and India have been successful in softening the language on the end of the use of coal from a phase out to a phase down.

This regrettably means that a country like India which is highly reliable on coal to produce electricity has a clear path to increase coal productions to 2025 before beginning to trim its use of the dirty fuel.

The watered down language has found support in familiar peers such as Australia, a mass exporter of coal and which deems its coal product as the ‘best quality’ on the globe.

India and co are however no villains as the developing world tables a key point for continued reliance on dirty fuels.

The coalition of the low income countries on the rise believe they can only abandon the use of coal and other similar fuels if the developing world can fund it.

Further, with the developed world having relied heavily on coal to lift its own population out of poverty and grow the economy, some countries feel the developed world is now interrupting their own progress by telling them what to do and what energy sources to deploy.

At the same time, the developed world is suspicious of rich countries who have previously failed in keeping promises such as financing climate change mitigation actions.

Already, the rich countries differed with the proposal to compensate poor countries on loss and damage caused by climate change arising from their own action.

Scientists and climate change have insisted that the resolutions from Glasgow are nowhere enough to avoid a climate change disaster as countries stand accused of selfishness, weak volunteerism and narrow national self-interest.

UN’s Guterres termed the deal as a compromise describing it as an important step but not enough.

COP26 President Alok Sharma has meanwhile apologized for how the final resolution unfolded.

Bitter sweet

In my humble opinion, Glasgow has still instilled a number of progressive reforms on climate change.

We look forward, more so and for instance, all 197 countries at the summit have agreed to meet at the table again next year at COP27 in Egypt to track and strengthen resolutions laid down in Scotland.

Moreover, 120 countries have reached a deal to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030 while and additional pledge led by the US and the European Union seeks to cut methane emissions by 2020.

40 countries led by Poland, Vietnam and Chile have meanwhile agreed to move away from coal use while nearly 500 global financiers have been involved in strong engagements on climate change financing.

Meanwhile, and in an interesting outcome from COP26, the US and China have pledged to boost climate cooperation.

Lastly, over 100 national governments, Cities, States and major car companies have signed onto the Glasgow Declaration on Zero -Emission Cars and Vans which seeks to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets and by 2040 worldwide.

While the few resolutions are better than nothing, the watering down of key resolution is not only dangerous but a let-down for the globe.

A watered down policy document is likely to have an even weaker implementation on the ground frustrating efforts to make gains on the climate change monster.

The target of keeping global temperatures’ at no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius is likely to remain all by a target as scientist warn average temperatures’ could move above two degrees Celsius by the end of this Century.

As the Covid-19 pandemic seemingly moves to the background, climate change is very well the new pandemic is left unchecked.

Both private sector and public sector must Action clear programs involving all nations and the youth for global progress, and to achieve real long term results that will support improve mother nature and the correct climate changes to benefit the world.