Negotiators from close to 200 countries present at the COP26 summit in Glasgow agreed on Saturday to prevent the irreversible and increasingly worsening impact on the planet’s climate. The announcement was made hours beyond the scheduled deadline on Friday evening.
The delay pointed to major points of contention as delegates struggled to iron out the major grounds of differences, including subsidies for fossil fuel, phasing out the use of coal, and support for countries way down on the economic scale.
India, among the biggest users of coal, realized a major objection to the use of the phrase ‘phase out’ and insisted on ‘phase down’ instead. Opposing countries finally conceded after initial objections.
Alok Sharma, UK’s COP26 President, expressed disappointment at the way things had unfolded at the summit. In an address charged with emotion, he told the assembled delegates that it was important to push through the package, though he could understand the profound disappointment at the compromises that they had to make.
The COP26 Glasgow summit was touted as the last chance for humanity to keep withing the 1.5C rise in the planet’s temperature. This number is part of the aspirational target inscribed in the Paris Agreement.
This landmark global framework seeks to avoid a dangerous spike in rising temperatures and limit global warming to below 2C while making efforts to limit it to 1.5C.
COP26: Nations Concede Incremental Progress Better Than Nothing
Several nations at the COP26 summit expressed deep disappointment at the stance taken by India to water down the agreement as coal is the biggest cause of greenhouse gases.
Nations had earlier complained that there was little progress and the pace was too slow. Swiss and Mexican negotiators called out the change in the phrasing and said it was against the rules. But they had to go along in the end.
The change will make it tough to achieve the target of limiting warming to 1.5C, warned the Swiss environment minister. The UN Secretary-General warned of the precarious position.
The Indian delegation hit back at the developed nations and said that wasteful consumption and unsustainable lifestyles by rich countries were the main cause of global warming, and he had a valid point there.
The EU VP Franz Timmermans, representing the 27 European Union nations pleaded with negotiators for unity for the sake of the future.
The next round of talks is scheduled in Egypt in 2023.