COP26 agreement: not the best climate pact
The Glasgow Climate Pact, adopted by 196 parties at the CoP26 summit last Saturday, was a compromise between 196 countries with special needs, constraints and even interests. This is not the best deal that could have come out of the talks, which lasted a fortnight but actually went on for years. It would be criticized as a lost opportunity as the summit was seen as the last chance to reach an ideal climate deal. But such an agreement was realistically impossible. While this is less than the best, there is even no certainty that what has been agreed will be implemented. Agreements and decisions made have not always been implemented in letter or in spirit. Perhaps the fact that there was an agreement was an achievement. There has been some progress in some respects, however, and that may have helped the overall deal.
The agreement aims to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and will continue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees. It spells out the need to end the use of coal and end inefficient fuel subsidies. This is the first time that coal has been mentioned in such an agreement. This has been controversial and the conference may even have failed on the issue. India and China have been blamed for not agreeing on a phase-out of coal, but only on its phase-out. The two countries would not have been able to phase out coal at this stage of their development.
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The dilution of the coal pledge has disappointed many countries, especially smaller ones. It is likely that there will be increased pressure on India, China and other countries similarly placed on coal in the future. India should redouble its efforts to rapidly replace it with other sources of energy. India and China have also benefited from another decision that allowed countries to carry over Kyoto Protocol carbon credits acquired after 2012.
The main failure of the meeting was its failure to persuade the developed world to keep its pledge to mobilize at least $ 100 billion a year from 2020 to help the developing world cope with the climate crisis. The deadline is now 2023. But there is no roadmap for granting funding and compensation. There are other failures too, and the most vulnerable countries are the most unhappy. But in the long run, all countries will be equally vulnerable. If warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees, emissions must fall by 45% during this decade. It is a difficult proposition. Now that Glasgow is over, there is another chance at CoP27 in Egypt next year to work towards an acceptable and achievable plan.
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