GLASGOW, Nov. 7 (Reuters) – Behind headlines touting new emissions and financing commitments, the UN climate talks in Glasgow face a battle for credibility.
Rich countries have repeatedly been accused of breaking their promises over the past week. The big polluters have traded beards. And environmental activists have cried treason, as years of UN climate negotiations to curb climate-warming carbon emissions and protect the world’s most vulnerable have had little effect.
“We have not seen sincerity in the commitments and progress made by developed countries, and have heard many more slogans than concrete results,” Chinese delegate Gao Xiang wrote on Saturday in the Shanghai official newspaper. Guangming Daily.
Emissions are rising and global temperatures – already 1.1 degrees Celsius higher on average than pre-industrial times – continue to rise. Rich countries that missed the 2020 deadline to provide $ 100 billion a year in climate finance to the poorest countries are now saying they will miss this pledge until 2023.
Campaigners called the first week’s fanfare “greenwashing,” even as country delegates and UN negotiators are still working on the details of implementing old and new pledges.
But with the history of climate diplomacy littered with broken promises, many have wondered: what needs to change beyond this year’s two-week conference to ensure accountability?
TIGHTEN THE RATCHET
Negotiators from nearly 200 countries return to the COP26 table on Monday, with just five days to strike the deals needed to limit global warming to 1.5 ° C – the limit beyond which the world will court devastating effects of climate change.
Among the big issues to be tackled are: establishing reliable rules for carbon markets, assessing how industrialized countries should pay for the climate-related losses suffered by the rest of the world, and finding financing to help developing countries survive. adapt.
But an idea has caught on: to force countries to review and, if necessary, update their emission reduction commitments every year, rather than according to the current five-year schedule.
“It’s an emergency. Every five years? It’s not treating it as an emergency,” said Saleemul Huq, an adviser to the 48-country Climate Vulnerable Forum, who has started pushing for more frequent reviews before. even the start of the Glasgow talks.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates last week that if COP26 fails, countries should be required to review their climate plans every year.
US climate envoy John Kerry has also supported more regular reviews.
“I hope we come out with a really good cadre. Whether it’s five years (or) younger, I can’t tell you today,” Kerry told reporters on Friday. “But I really believe it should be as short as possible.”
Supporters say such a change is crucial. With just 10 years to cut global emissions by 45%, which scientists say is key to controlling rising temperatures, countries must be held accountable on an annual basis, they say.
“It would be negative in my mind to come out of here with too long a horizon,” Kerry said.
For the poorest countries with limited government capacity, an annual initiative could prove to be a constraint.
“One year is too short,” said Chioma Felistas Amudi, deputy scientific director of the climate change department of the Nigerian Ministry of the Environment.
She said many country commitments, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), covered a wide range of policy areas, energy plans and government initiatives that required both political will and financial support.
“So a one-year registration would disrupt the implementation process,” she said. “Five years gives us more time to implement, and also take inventory.”
The UK Environment Minister questioned whether formal changes to the UN process were needed, saying it was already designed for incremental progress.
“I’m not sure the technicality around a ratchet is something we would push or if it would be in the final text,” this year, Environment Minister George Eustice told Times Radio. But he didn’t rule it out.
“When you have these annual events… there are a lot of references to previous agreements.”
Additional reporting by Kate Abnett in Brussels, David Stanway in Shanghai and Kylie MacLellan in London; Editing by Katy Daigle
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