Glasgow marks yet another failure to commit to meaningful green funding for developing nations

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November 16, 2021 6:00 AM

Countries have been quick to foist blame on each other over unrealised expectations, but they must remember the misery from climate action will be shared.

climate change, climate action, un climate agreement, climate deal 2021 coal agreementNew Delhi has made significant commitments, in terms of reducing carbon intensity of the economy and scaling up renewable energy.

The progress achieved at the CoP26 has been, sadly, incremental. This is not to be summarily critical of the Glasgow Climate Pact, given some goals were met. Commitment to the 1.5oC by 2100 goal survives (some would argue barely so). The carbon-market question is going to be less troubling—countries can now use legacy carbon credits to meet their first nationally determined contributions for which the target year for most nations is 2025. This is a pathbreaker for the carbon market under the Paris Agreement, which is yet to come into force. Other than that, more than 140 nations have committed to significant action on halting deforestation and land degradation. They together represent 90% of the world’s rainforests (critical carbon-sinks). The highlight is Brazil signing on, against the backdrop of the catastrophic effects of the Bolsonaro administration’s decisions on the Amazonian rainforests. Over one hundred countries have also signed the US-EU pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by a third by 2030. Methane is roughly 30 times as potent as carbon-dioxide when it comes to heat-trapping and currently accounts for 20% of global GHG emissions, after carbon dioxide (70%), though it breaks down far quicker. In that respect, it is also a low-hanging fruit for climate action. There are some other spots of cheer in the outcomes of the CoP26.

But, even as a new ‘pact’ has been announced, the world remains despairingly off-target; clearly, ambitions may reign higher than ever, but the concomitant action and resolve is still lacking. Many have argued that such deals are always a mixed bag, and certainly no one was expecting complete consensus. But, with the time having all but run out for keeping to the 1.5oC warming-pathway—which would limit much of the damage that the world must expect with even a 2oC pathway—ambition seems merely a silken blindfold. Countries have been quick to foist blame on each other over unrealised expectations, but they must remember the misery from climate action will be shared.

Rich countries have disappointed greatly on responsibility to fund climate action in the developing world. Moreover, there is not even a whisper on net negative emissions by 2050, to make space for developing nations’ growth imperatives. They have failed to deliver on the $100 billion a year by 2020 to further green-growth; the need as estimated by developing nations is $1 trillion annually. The Glasgow Pact expresses deep regret over this and “urges developed country parties to fully deliver on the $100 billion goal urgently and through to 2025”. On adaptation funding, a key demand of the most vulnerable nations, rich nations only agreed to double the funding from the 2019 levels by 2025. For perspective, at about $15 billion in 2019, adaptation finance was a mere 20% of all climate finance flows vis-a-vis the estimated need of 50% to fund adaptation globally.

New Delhi has made significant commitments, in terms of reducing carbon intensity of the economy and scaling up renewable energy, apart from a net zero target-year, keeping in mind its growth needs. So, no one should fault it for asking for ‘phasing down’ of coal instead of ‘phasing out’ in the final agreement along with China, Iran, Venezuela and others., But, it must de-hyphenate itself from China going forward, given China’s historical emission responsibility as also its per capita emission burden outstrips India’s. The International Energy Agency recently spelled out the full scale of ambition needed on global climate action. No one expected Glasgow to deliver even a chunk of it, but a comparison with the IEA projections show how frugal the sum of the pact’s ambitions is.

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