Analslysis by Sipho Kings
THE United States’ top climate diplomat ended COP26 by saying a good deal is one where everyone feels like they have lost.
Other diplomats noted that the final agreement in Glasgow, Scotland, meant that they would lose their actual countries. Some to rising sea levels, others to a mix of drought and floods.
In a hotter world, the weather – and climate systems that animals, farmers, industry and everyone else rely on – change too fast. Things break. People die.
Climate negotiations are about making that damage less bad. But the 197 countries involved all have different needs, which affect the climate plans they’re able or willing to commit to. An analysis by Climate Action Tracker shows that, put together, these climate plans will see the world heat by 2.4 °C.
Going into the conference, African states had a “red line” that required everyone to ensure heating stays below 1.5 °C. They were sidelined. Utterly.
The Continent spoke to people who were in the rooms where negotiations went a day over schedule, who staggered across the finish line fuelled by necessity and very (very) little sleep.
The word “hypocrisy” was used. A lot. African states and the developing world’s G77 plus China group were pushed aside as rich nations rammed through what they wanted and refused to budge on anything else.
Details on who will pay for the damage that has already been done by Europe and the US burning coal for 200 years were left vague. As were the details on money to help countries adapt to climate change.
The frustration led to a last-minute stand-off. Rich countries wanted COP to say coal, still a key energy source inthe G77, was done. They refused to do the same with oil and gas, their primary energy source.
It didn’t hurt that the petrochemical industry, with the biggest delegation at COP will keep profiting from gas. In turn, India, China and South Africa demanded the phrase “phasing out” of coal be replaced with “phasing down”.
A change with profound implications: if we keep burning coal, everyone loses.Then again, there is hope. A decade ago the world was on track for 4 °C of heating.
Successive COPs have taken that down to 2.4°C. This is progress – tangible progress – we just need more of it. And quickly. – The Continent