Some forward movement seems to have been made at the COP26 global climate conference. The second draft agreement, released on Friday, has some elements that could make a final agreement possible, though there are many issues still left pending on the negotiating table.
For the developed countries, it is a victory of sorts that the draft retains mention of references to phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, even if it has two words that seem to favour the countries providing such subsidies. The adjective ‘unabated’ (though not defined), used for coal plants, is to exclude plants that have carbon capture facilities; the adjective ‘inefficient’ for subsidies give room to keep subsidies that really help the poor.
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For the developing countries, the heartening features are the paragraphs on ‘adaptation finance’. Developing countries have been clamouring for more money for adaptation (measure to protect against the consequences of global warming that have already become inevitable, as opposed to ‘mitigation,’ which refers to measures to prevent further heating of the planet).
The draft “notes with concern” that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation remains insufficient and “urges” developed countries to “urgently and significantly scale up” provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building.
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These, if agreed finally, are positives for developing countries, even though there is a lack of specificity. There is no mention of either a sum or words like ‘doubling’ by a target date, but the focus on adaptation finance is a positive for the developing countries.
Similarly, the chapter on ‘finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for mitigation and adaptation’ says it “notes with deep regret” that the goal of developed countries to mobilise $100b a year from 2020, has not been met and “urges” them to do so.
Experts and activists have also noted with satisfaction the focus on ‘loss and damage’ – basically, reparations for damage incurred due to a climate event.
There is no mention of the hotly contested Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with carbon markets. Apparently, the contentious issues, such as validity of old credits, avoidance of ‘double counting’ of credits and inclusion of ‘avoided deforestation’ (called REDD+), could not be resolved.
If the draft is finally agreed upon, it would enable the Glasgow COP to be declared a success.
Whether some of the core issues, such as more frequent enhancements of climate action commitments, provision of climate finance to developing countries, reasonable split of funds for mitigation, and adaptation and rules for carbon markets, are yet to be resolved, there has been some forward movement in a few other areas. For instance, the US and China have agreed to work together (as opposed to finger-pointing), some 40 countries have pledged to move away from coal, many countries, including Brazil, have agreed to stop deforestation and there has been an agreement on phase down of methane.