Another climate summit is poised to end in comic failure. The final task is producing a meaningless set of statements every nation can agree with but not follow.
Deal Still Elusive
As COP26 enters its final day, a Deal is Still Elusive. Of course, a deal will be reached, but it will be as meaningless as the preceding 25.
Negotiators said a big gap remained between developed and developing countries over climate financing. Rich countries have committed to funneling money to poorer countries to help them move toward lower-emissions energy sources and protect themselves from the worst effects of climate change. Negotiators said gaps over the amount are still wide.
New Goal Put Off Until 2024
A draft text on climate finance circulated Thursday included a goal to channel $1.3 trillion annually, but a new draft released Friday deleted that language because of opposition, negotiators said, from the U.S., the European Union and other wealthy nations. Governments have agreed to hold a series of meetings to decide on a new goal in 2024, the new text says.
A well-known saying covers this.
Never put off until tomorrow what you can
do today put off for many years.
Meanwhile, we have a math problem. Math is racist. Oh wait, I mean in addition to math being racist.
Officials have faced a fundamental math problem on emissions reductions. Ahead of the summit, called COP26, most of the world’s countries committed to emissions cuts, but they weren’t steep enough, scientists say, to limit temperature rises to well under 2 degrees Celsius—and preferably to 1.5 degrees—above preindustrial-era temperatures. Countries committed to this ambition at a similar summit in Paris in 2015, and a big goal for the Glasgow gathering is reaffirming and hardening that pledge.
Indecision, In or Out
Officials fixed the math problem the same way they fixed the issue with goals. Well, sort of, but not even that demanding.
To bridge the emissions gap, negotiators have inserted language in a draft text that requests [not requires] countries to update their commitments by the end of next year to encourage more cuts in the near future.
It is unclear whether such a move has enough support among key players to make it part of any final deal.
Good Lord, they are struggling to get text inserted that requests but does not even require any action.
Spotlight on Wordsmithing and Backtracking
At this stage in the summit’s final negotiations, talks are centered on often-technical wording or sensitivities over language by sometimes-small blocs of countries. An earlier draft circulated this week, for instance, called on the world to end subsidies for fossil fuel. Negotiators who fought for that language hailed it as a success.
By Friday, the working draft called on winding down “inefficient” fossil-fuel subsidies, and one official involved in the talks said it is widely viewed by negotiators that any reference to a phaseout would ultimately drop out of the final text.
Support But No Commitment
The summit also provided a venue for a series of more limited moves, including a U.S.-led coalition that agreed to cut methane emissions.
In its joint statement with the U.S., China also promised to reduce methane emissions but stopped short of joining the coalition.
Bear in mind, commitments to developing nations made in 2009 are still not met.
And Trump pulled the US out of the highly touted Paris Accord Agreement of 2015 (COP21).
What a Circus
The final statement is sure to be a hoot. It will tout all the progress that it expects but does not require by 2024.
This was even more amusing than I expected.
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