COP26: one of the summits with the greatest expectations, but which left several pending to continue working

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Concluded the COP26, a summit that was made to wait. A COP that had been postponed for a year, which had high expectations, especially because of what it meant last year in a pandemic that forced to stop so many things, respecting the burdens that climate action has.

We are going through moments of important crisis, and the climate crisis it is one that some do not see. Some do not want to see the climate emergency, but it is and it is even much more serious than other crises that we think we’re going through.

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How it got to COP26

This COP came with a lot of load. On the one hand, the year 2020 was always thought of as the beginning of the start of the Paris Agreement and its commitments and climate action under this framework. However, it came into force in 2016 and that also accelerated the times to be able to regulate it.

The regulation of the Paris Agreement is the one that was finalized at this COP, basically because the mandate to be concluded in 2018 could never be fulfilled, due to the complexity of some issues. Many issues were regulated in 2018 and some passed to 2019. At that COP, Madrid, chaired by Chile, this regulation could not be achieved.

There were several issues that remained pending, among them the most important: financing issues, carbon markets issues and transparency issues.

This negotiation agenda that comes from 2016, to close in 2018, and that it’s already been two years late and a third more due to the pandemic, made this COP have a lot of burdens.

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It is worth mentioning that precisely the context of the pandemic raised many questions when reaching this summit, probably one of the most attended summits in the history of climate negotiations and this has increased the level of media, political and economic attention, and that was noticeable in Glasgow.

This summit was characterized by having a lot of situations, activities and products that emerged, beyond the agenda of the negotiation. There was a summit of presidents, as in other climate summits, where some agreements or some statements came up around certain issues that contribute to or complement the action under the legal framework of the Paris Agreement and the convention.

Declarations and agreements at the COP

These statements that were made had quite an impact because they touched on important issues, for example, the reduction of methane emissions associated with what is agriculture and some part of the energy sector; emissions of what has to do with forests, that is, curb deforestation by 2030; energy transition; fossil fuel financing, in particular coal; and sustainable mobility. That also drew a good chunk of the media and political attention from the first week in particular. These elements have gained relevance but are not strictly Glasgow’s negotiating agenda.

The outstanding debts of the COP

However in this COP also there are things that have been relatively “loose”. For example, when we talk about these carbon markets, the famous Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, famous for what has been discussed at each of these summits, but when it comes to defining carbon markets, when it comes to talking about how markets can contribute It has not gone the way that at least society asked for it to go.

With not so many safeguards and with some loopholes that can be exploited by some governments and by some companies to take advantage without making a concrete or real emission reduction. But it does not mean that the entire market that is defined is wrong, it does not mean that some doors are being left open that could allow that.

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On the other hand, we could say that The other great loss or shortcoming of this COP has been the financing for the damages and losses from the adverse effects of climate change. Climate change definitely with climate action or without climate action will continue to impact people’s lives and this makes it very important to have programs that address the impacts and for that it is necessary to have resources.

This is something fundamental, resources are necessary for all those vulnerable peoples who are precisely at the mercy of extreme climate impacts and that is where this COP was weak, where it failed to give those signals to the people. However, it was kicked for next year, to continue being talked about.

Finally, the issue of financing has been talked about for a long time, 12 years ago it was said that in 2020 there should be 100 billion dollars per year. The truth is that that amount of money was not put on the table here in Glasgow, it was simply said that they are going to continue talking and that the objective will be met retroactively in order to meet the almost 600,000 million dollars that go between 2020 and 2025.

How the negotiations and the post-COP26 climate crisis continue

In this sense, the COP left some lines that it is going to continue working, a proposal of a new financing, because it is time to start talking about a new, additional, bigger one from 2025, because that is what the Paris Agreement says. A process is going to begin and that, in a way, is a positive thing, but everything that is related to money for climate action is what was left loose at this COP.

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A fact to highlight is that the general decision of this summit includes for the first time in the history of the climate negotiations a specific reference to fossil fuels. For the first time there is a paragraph that talks about this. This paragraph, number 36 of the decision, precisely speaks of phasing out coal and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Beyond that it is the first time, it really is remarkable that it has appeared.

It is also worth saying that that bothered some countries, that even at the last moment they managed to lower the level of ambition to that same paragraph so that instead of saying “eliminate” it goes on to say “reduce”, both coal and the subsidy for fossil fuels. This really it was a disappointment at that time, but it does not detract from the fact that, for the first time in the history of the convention, one of the main reasons for the generation of greenhouse gas emissions is specifically discussed, which is the burning of fossil fuels.

All the countries of the world heavily subsidize fossil fuels, Argentina among them. However, this is a very good novelty because it is precisely mentioning one sector specifically and that the truth is that it is important for these decisions to begin to impact the real economy.

Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis (FARN) has been an expert in United Nations Climate Change negotiations since 2004. Currently, he coordinates ad-honorem the Transparency groups of CAN International and the Environment-Climate-Energy of Civil 20 groups.

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