On Saturday, nearly 200 nations reached a climate agreement at COP26. In the climate crisis, there was an unprecedented reference to fossil fuel. An 11-hour objection was seen from India to alter down the language around reducing the use of coal. For years the COP process has tried and failed to include an acknowledgment that by the burning of fossil fuels, the climate crisis is caused. Phasing out coal was the top priority of the climate meeting, the single biggest source of greenhouse gases.
But despite that progress, the text doesn’t reflect the urgency. After a lengthy discussion, Friday, the President of COP26 formalized the agreement with gavel strikes. He made India’s request amendment orally, changing the text to a phasing down of coal instead of phasing out. Earlier, the President told the delegates that he was “infinitely grateful” for “keeping 1.5 alive.” According to scientists, that limit is critical to avoid the worsening impacts of the climate crisis.
At the center of the agreement, countries are requested to come to the COP27 talks in Egypt at the end of next year. The countries have to come up with updated plans for slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Before this agreement was made by 2025, the countries were required to do that; next year’s meeting, it will be clear whether that part of the agreement is successful. Hopes were high on the climate meet that some meaningful action would be the outcome.
UN’s climate science report has warned of extreme weather events throughout the Northern Hemisphere this summer. This was an indication that climate change was happening faster than even scientists had previously thought. According to some scientists, there were breakthroughs in the climate meeting, but the overall outcome did not meet the moment’s urgency.
Many people who are working on climate change issues are not happy because there is a lack of real strength in the decisions. There is progress going on, but that is not fast enough, but it is not slow enough to give up. A recent analysis by Climate Action Tracker found that even with all the new emissions pledges announced, the world is on the track of 2.4 degrees of warming.
Questions are being raised on the matter of coal whether the climate meet presidency should have the unilateral change to the test by India. According to the Swiss Environment Minister at the last minute, the process to amend language on fossil fuels is the process to amend language on fossil fuels. The minister said, “We don’t need to phase down but to phase out coal and fossil fuel subsidies. This will not bring us closer to 1.5 but make it more difficult to reach it.”
The President of Cop26 said delegates were canvassed in the room to see if the language change on coal would be acceptable. The President was also sorry that the original language was dropped, but there is a language on coal. There were differences between developing and developed countries over funding to adapt to the climate crisis. The idea of a loss and damage fund was also proposed, which would mean rich countries are paying for climate crisis impacts in more vulnerable countries. On adaptation money, there was progress, a doubling of finance by 2025 from 2019 levels. But ultimately, a firm language on loss-and damage fund was dropped.