Climate deal hit in Glasgow with India’s coal pullback, UN says ‘not enough’

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries agreed to a new climate deal after the COP26 summit in Glasgow concluded its overtime plenary on Saturday with an agreement, recognizing India’s intervention to have the world “phase out” fossil fuels instead of “phase out”.

It means that the Glasgow Climate Pact is the first UN climate agreement that plans to reduce carbon, responsible for greenhouse gases with a harmful climate impact. The countries, as part of the deal, also agreed to meet next year to discuss more carbon cuts so that the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius can be reached.

“It is so decided,” said Alok Sharma, president of COP26, declaring the new pact with a hammer blow after the marathon talks that began earlier this month. “I hope that we can leave this conference together, having delivered something meaningful to people and the planet together as one,” he said.

Several countries criticized the switch to fossil fuels promoted by India, including when the Union Minister for the Environment, Bhupender Yadav, asked at the Glasgow climate summit how developing nations could be expected to make promises about “phasing out.” “from subsidies to coal and fossil fuels when they have yet to grapple with their development and poverty eradication agendas. Earlier, in a stocktaking plenary session, India made an important intervention to express disappointment with the draft text of the agreement.

The country expressed injustice towards the developing world and noted a “lack of balance” and urgency in achieving climate finance targets. “Mr. President (Sharma), thank you for your continued efforts to build consensus. However, I am afraid that consensus remained elusive. India is ready for a constructive debate and a fair and equitable solution in this forum,” said the Minister of Environment, Yadav.

The minister pointed to climate-friendly lifestyles and climate justice, enshrined in the Paris Agreement, as keys to solving the climate crisis caused by “unsustainable lifestyles and wasteful consumption patterns.” Fossil fuels and their use have allowed parts of the world to achieve high levels of wealth and well-being, and targeting any particular sector is unnecessary, he said.

Each country will hit net zero based on its own national circumstances, strengths and weaknesses, Yadav stressed. “Developing countries are entitled to their fair share of the global carbon budget and are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels within this area,” he said.

“In such a situation, how can anyone expect developing countries to make promises about phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies (when) developing countries still have to grapple with their development and eradication agendas? poverty, “asked the minister. Speaking on the subject of subsidies, Yadav stressed that they provide much-needed social security and support.

“For example, we (India) are providing subsidies for the use of LPG to low-income households. This subsidy has been helpful in almost eliminating biomass burning for cooking and improving health by reducing indoor air pollution, he said. In the end, one of the main results of the new agreement was an agreement to make efforts to “eliminate” the use of coal, eliminate inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels and provide specific support to the poorest and most vulnerable according to national circumstances. .

Accelerating emissions reduction targets by 2030, increasing funding for developing nations to adapt to climate change by 2025, pushing the agenda on how to pay for the losses and damages that climate change inflicts on developing countries and the agreement on rules on carbon offset markets were also part of the deal. Sharma, the Indian-born British cabinet minister who was in charge of the summit, seemed at the end on the brink of tears when he apologized for “the way this process has developed.”

Swiss Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga complained that the process of changing the language on fossil fuels at the last minute was not transparent enough. “We don’t need to phase out, we need to phase out subsidies on coal and fossil fuels,” said Sommaruga, who represents the Environmental Integrity Group, which includes six parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

He went on to say that EIG chose not to block a deal, but that the group was “disappointed.” “This will not bring us closer to 1.5, but it will make it more difficult to achieve,” explained Sommaruga.

Sharma apologized after hearing complaints from climate-vulnerable countries about the last minute change.

“May I tell all the delegates that I apologize for the way this process unfolded and I am deeply sorry,” Sharma said before hitting the gavel. Sharma later told reporters that he visited delegates in the room to see if the language changes about coal. It would be acceptable. He said he was “sorry” that the original language was removed, “but we have a language about coal, and I think it’s a start.”

Sharma had previously made a passionate plea to delegates to endorse the draft, saying it was a “moment of truth” for the planet as the talks did not conclude as planned on Friday and moved on to an extra day.

Arguments of developing nations

India, along with other developing nations, has repeatedly called on richer and more developed nations to take greater responsibility in mitigating the climate crisis, while helping developing nations achieve their goals.

In an earlier objection to a section on climate change mitigation to an earlier draft, Bolivia’s chief negotiator Diego Pacheco, on behalf of his country and 21 other allied nations, including India and China, accused developed countries of attempt to shift responsibility to the United States. rest of the world and imposing new rules.

He had argued that developing countries should not be held to the same standards as rich countries, which have historically played a larger role in the climate crisis. He also accused rich countries of trying to “transfer responsibility” to the Global South, CNN reported. Developing countries have also repeatedly complained about so-called climate finance, and it has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to the talks.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who earlier at the summit announced India’s commitment to becoming a net zero emissions country by 2070, also spoke about climate finance in his speech. He called on developed nations to deliver on the $ 1 trillion pledged in climate finance, saying this should be tracked in the same way as climate mitigation.

“India expects developed countries to make $ 1 trillion available in climate finance as soon as possible. As we track climate change mitigation progress, we must also track climate finance. Justice would really be served by putting pressure on those countries that have not met their climate finance commitments, “Modi had said.

After the recently held G20 Summit, Union Minister Piyush Goyal said that developed nations that have already enjoyed the fruits of low-cost energy should aim to achieve net zero much faster to help the developing countries to pursue their development goals. India’s G20 Sherpa had also expressed satisfaction with the language of the summit communiqué “confirming that the developed world has recognized that they have not done enough in terms of meeting their commitments.”

UN chief warns of catastrophe, Boris Johnson optimistic

Before the Glasgow talks, the United Nations had established three criteria for success, and none of them were achieved. The UN criteria included commitments to cut carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2030, $ 100 billion in financial aid from rich nations to the poor, and ensuring that half of that money went to help the world in development to adapt to the worst effects of climate change.

“We did not achieve these goals at this conference,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “But we have some building blocks for progress.”

However, Guterres warned of an impending “climate catastrophe” while environmental activist Greta Thunberg dismissed the agreement from Saturday’s COP26 climate conference as “blah blah blah.” And even those who welcomed the deal in Glasgow said there was a lot of work to do.

Guterres acknowledged the shortcomings of the deal, in a statement following the deal reached Saturday night at the Glasgow conference. “The outcome of # COP26 is a compromise, reflecting the interests, contradictions and the state of political will in the world today,” he tweeted.

“It is an important step, but it is not enough.”

“Our fragile planet hangs by a thread,” he warned, adding that “we continue to knock on the door of climate catastrophe.” In a follow-up tweet, the UN chief sent a message to “young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, all those who lead in #ClimateAction.”

“I know you could be disappointed. But we are in the fight of our lives and this fight must be won. “

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson remained relatively optimistic. “There is still a lot to do in the next few years,” Johnson said.

“But today’s agreement is a huge step forward and crucially, we have the first international agreement to phase out carbon and a roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

A statement from the European Commission said the agreement kept alive the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, “giving us the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”

Commission chair Ursula von der Leyen said conference delegates made progress on commitments to reduce hazardous emissions and raising $ 100 billion a year to help developing and vulnerable countries. “But there will be no time to relax: there is still a lot of work ahead,” he added.

As the negotiators exited the final session after congratulating themselves, they passed a lonely young protester who sat silently with blood red writing on his folded arms that read: “We are watching.”

With input from PTI, AFP, CNN and the Associated Press.

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