Some thoughts on the Glasgow Climate Pact
The two-week Climate Conference came to an end last night with negotiations between countries and organisations coming to end. The Climate Conference President with tears in his eyes, apologised to all delegates for the way the talks concluded, and called for the utmost protection of this document. After hard negotiations and three modifications to the final text, the Glasgow Pact is the final result.
The 10-page document is split in several parts:
The science and urgency
Finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for mitigation and adaptation
Loss and damage
The Climate Conference President with tears in his eyes, apologised to all delegates for the way the talks concluded, and called for the utmost protection of this document. After hard negotiations and three modifications to the final text, the Glasgow Pact is the final result.
There are several factors that will play into evaluating the real success or failure of the Glasgow Climate Pact. Nevertheless, in assessing the potential impact of the Pact, we can consider several points of importance that were prevalent prior and during the climate negotiations.
“36.Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition.”
The role of fossil fuels in the fight against climate-change has definitely been recognised. Nevertheless, the agreement does not include the affirmative wording that was initially envisioned. The term “phase-out” was replaced after hard pushes by the EU, China, India and the US to “phase-down” essentially watering down the importance of systemic change that is needed in phasing out fossil fuels.
Nevertheless, a theme that is imperative in understanding the true phase out of fossil fuels is this: “a just transition.” From my experience in attending COP26, several representatives and business leaders mentioned the need for consumers to accept the price premiums that are attached to cleaner production and cleaner energy. Nevertheless, this is inaccessible in several countries where communities cannot even afford cheap sources of electricity such as coal. It becomes a fine balancing exercise to tackle the just transition and the affordability (or lack thereof) that is attached to phasing out fossil fuels. There has been an attempt to tackle this in Paris and now in Glasgow through climate financing by developed countries to developing nations. Nevertheless, developed countries failed to meet their 2015 promise, raising question marks about the potential of this ‘just transition’ unless there is systemic change in the way we perceive national accountability in a global environment.
18. Urges developed country Parties to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from 2019 levels by 2025, in the context of achieving a balance between mitigation and adaptation in the provision of scaled-up financial resources, recalling Article 9, paragraph 4, of the Paris Agreement;
This clause is included in the adaptation finance section of the agreement. You can see below the highlight of ‘regret’ that signatory developed countries did not meet their goal to mobilise 100 billion dollars per year by 2020 for mitigation actions. This created suspicion among countries with regards to developed countries’ financing pledges. This is why Clause 18 was reluctantly welcomed as it outlines the need for climate financing targeted at adaptation. This is significant as it strikes a balance between the importance of mitigation and adaptation. It is also significant to consider the importance of receiving this funding as developed countries are the ones who feel the impacts of climate change the most in comparison to others.
44. Notes with deep regret that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation has not yet been met15, and welcomes the increased pledges made by many developed country Parties and the Climate Finance Delivery Plan: Meeting the US$100 Billion Goal and the collective actions contained therein;
Loss and damage
The importance of loss and damage in the Pact was an essential ask by many vulnerable nations in their fight for climate justice. Nevertheless, no tangible clause was written in support of this, disappointing several nations. The countries with the least contribution to climate change are suffering the worst consequences, which highlights the disproportionate, yet, unavoidable impacts of climate change.
Instead, the result from COP26 was the following:
66. Welcomes the further operationalization of the Santiago network for averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including the agreement on its functions and process for further developing its institutional arrangements;
The Santiago Network is a technical assistance programme whose objective is to aid countries in dealing with loss and damage. It is arguable that “loss and damage” will be at the epicentre of the COP27 negotiations next year. The climate envoy to the Marshall Islands said: “The package is not perfect. The coal change and a weak outcome on loss and damage are blows.”
Many leave Glasgow disappointed by the heavy compromises and multiple changes to the document. It is yet to be seen if the Pact and several COP26 agreements throughout the last two weeks will have a tangible impact in the efforts to limit the impacts of climate change and to the adaptation efforts.