BL Explainer

Explainer: All about Glasgow Climate Pact

M. Ramesh | | | Updated on: Nov 16, 2021
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It is an agreement of all countries that were parties to the Paris Agreement of 2015


What is the Glasgow Climate Pact?

It is an agreement of all countries that were parties to the Paris Agreement of 2015 on how to take forward the agenda set in the Paris Agreement. It deals with many issues, such as finance, reporting of climate actions, transparency in climate actions (so that nothing is passed off as a climate action), further commitments, and rules for creating global market for trading in carbon offsets (carbon credits).

What are its salient futures?

For the first time, the Glasgow pact mentions ‘coal’ by name and asks for its phase-down; it says abolition of fossil fuel subsidies. The countries have also agreed to report their climate actions next year as per the Paris Agreement, and this was to happen only in 2025. Going forward, such reporting might become annual. Then, there is more focus on ‘loss and damage’, which refers to reparations to those countries that have suffered a climate event (such as a hurricane). Similarly, there is also more focus on ‘adaptation’, which refers to measures taken to cope with the consequences of global warming that have already become inevitable. This could mean, for example, building stormwater drains in cities, canals for flood control or building a sea wall. Adaptation was always mentioned, but there is more language around it in this agreement. Finally, under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, the rules for carbon markets have been agreed upon, though the details are yet to come out.

Will it contain global warming to under 1.5 degrees?

Nobody believes the Glasgow pact is enough to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees over the average temperatures in the pre-industrialisation era (1850-1900). At best, it would get us to 1.8 degrees. However, an analysis by Carbon Tracker says that, as things stand today, a more realistic estimate is 2.4 degrees. By the way, the Glasgow agreement recognises that the planet is warmer by 1.1 degrees now. Numbers like 2.4 might look small, but practically it impacts millions of people. To illustrate, in 2020, an estimated 30 million people were displaced due to climate events.

Why is India being seen as an obstructionist at Glasgow?

India indeed forced the change of language from phase-out to phase-down of coal in the final agreement, much to the unconcealed chagrin of most countries. India’s stand is that it cannot quickly stop coal, its energy mainstay and source of livelihood to millions of people. While India would phase out coal, it needs time, especially since the developed countries, which are truly responsible for the climate mess, are not providing funding for the transition away from coal. India is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, after the US and China, accounting for 6 per cent of the world’s emissions, but emissions-per-person is among the lowest in the world.

Have developed nations committed enough to deal with the climate crisis?

No. Developed nations themselves do not believe they are doing enough. They are slipping badly in terms of mobilising finance—mobilising, not even providing out of their budgets. Secondly, their interest, and therefore focus, has been on ‘mitigation’, which are measures for preventing further global warming, rather than on adaptation or loss and damage, which are more in the interests of developing countries. Nor are they forthcoming in terms of providing technology. For example, would an American or European company easily give technology for electrolysers for hydrogen production?

Published on November 16, 2021

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