Someone’s Spilled The Draught…

Someone’s Spilled The Draught…

November 10th, 2021 – The President of the Conference of the Parties (COP) proposes a “draft agreement” – an agreement between the nations taking part in COP26 detailing their response and what needs to be done. There are several sections to the agreement including science, adaptation, finance, mitigation (slowing climate change down), implementation (how they will do the things that need to be done) and collaboration – the largest section, and the most important.

Several key statements are made, including recognising the importance of nations working together to fight climate change, the first official call for nations to accelerate the phasing out of coal, and marking the importance of protecting and restoring our forests.

This does not last.

November 12th, 2021 – A new agreement, following a fierce campaign by present fossil fuel groups, arrives. The language is soft, the commitments weak, but, unbelievably, the clause asking nations to come back with stronger targets next year survives – even if it has now become a “request”. The reference to phasing out coal entirely also remains, albeit more vague and with no timeframe.

Most concerning, however, may be the inclusion of just one new sentence – “taking into account different national circumstances”. This is far too vague, and while it could be used to help poorer countries like the island nations keep up with new changes, couldn’t it also be used by China to weasel their way out of any commitments they don’t like?

Finance is the only area that lives to be stronger than before. Money for adapting to the new infrastructure (the term for the physical and organisational systems of a nation) and plans required for climate change will be doubled, and all this by 2025 – a fantastic development, and one that will greatly improve the developing nations’ ability to fight climate change themselves.

Speaking of developing countries, a whole new facility will be created to help the Santiago Network – a program that intends to provide the developing nations with the technical support, knowledge and resources that they need to more effectively combat climate change – get up and running. The facility, officially a Secretariat (the fancy name for Government’s important, permanent office buildings) will be the base of operations for helping smaller, underdeveloped nations to fight global warming on their own.

Greenpeace had their own thoughts about the new agreement, and while not as fierce as you might expect from them, their quote, via member Jennifer Morgan, reads:
“It could be better, it should be better, and we have one day left to make it a lot, lot better,”
While they believe that the majority of the agreement simply isn’t enough, they are fond of some of the more compelling parts of the document. The quote continues on to say
“there’s wording in here worth holding on to and the UK presidency needs to fight tooth and nail to keep the most ambitious elements in the deal”.

This is the final day. A better agreement must be reached. We must keep the climate temperature under 1.5°C if we are to maintain a healthy and livable climate for everyone on earth (and prevent some island nations from going the way of Atlantis). These provide an important first step, but this is not the overall improvement over the first agreement that it should be, and the slow progress isn’t the encouraging display of international unity that is needed.

By David McDougall and Eilidh Henderson


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