Major win for India in climate diplomacy with deal signed with 1.5C alive

Vishal Gulati(IANS)-

In a major win in international diplomacy in the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, India on Saturday managed to convince the world to include coal to the ‘phase down’, instead of ‘phase out’ after days of negotiations.

India on finally backed the COP26 draft that was passed by nearly 200 nations.

US climate chief John Kerry said defended the Glasgow deal by saying “this is not the finish line for climate change…what we need is to live in pollution free”.

There was some strong opposition to the inclusion of ‘accelerating phaseout of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsides’ – mainly from India and China, and supported by South Africa on coal and Iran & Nigeria on fossil fuel subsidies.

However, it’s encouraging to see Australia, the US, Turkey, Colombia, Indonesia, and Japan support the text — indicating a significant shift from their earlier stand.

Watering down of text on coal is indicative of the gap in financing and technology transfer — something that developed countries will need to focus on moving forward.

COP26 concluded in Glasgow with nearly 200 countries agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep 1.5C alive and finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement.

Climate negotiators ended two weeks of intense talks with consensus on urgently accelerating climate action.

The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5C remains in sight, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.

The Glasgow Climate Pact will speed up the pace of climate action. All countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their current emissions targets to 2030, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), in 2022. This will be combined with a yearly political roundtable to consider a global progress report and a Leaders summit in 2023.

The Paris Rulebook, the guidelines for how the Paris Agreement is delivered, was also completed after six years of discussions.

This will allow for the full delivery of the landmark accord, after agreement on a transparency process which will hold countries to account as they deliver on their targets. This includes Article 6, which establishes a robust framework for countries to exchange carbon credits through the UNFCCC.

And for the first time, heeding calls from civil society and countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, the COP agreed action on phasing down fossil fuels.

COP decisions went further than ever before in recognising and addressing loss and damage from the existing impacts of climate change.

There were also commitments to significantly increase financial support through the Adaptation Fund as developed countries were urged to double their support to developing countries by 2025.

The final COP26 text follows two years of intense diplomacy and campaigning undertaken by the UK Presidency to raise ambition and secure action from almost 200 countries.

Work focussed on driving short term reduction of emissions to limit temperature rises to 1.5C, mobilising both public and private finance, and supporting communities to adapt to climate impacts.

When the UK took on the COP26 mantle, in partnership with Italy, nearly two years ago, only 30 per cent of the world was covered by net zero targets. This figure is now at around 90 per cent. Over the same period, 154 Parties have submitted new national targets, representing 80 per cent of global emissions.

The UK Presidency has also been focused on driving action to deliver emissions reductions.

Alongside this, the UK has seen a marked commitment to protect precious natural habitats, with 90 per cent of the world’s forests covered by a pledge from 130 countries to end deforestation by 2030.

While on the world’s roads, the transition to zero emissions vehicles is gathering pace, with some of the largest car manufacturers working together to make all new car sales zero emission by 2040 and by 2035 in leading markets. Countries and cities are following suit with ambitious petrol and diesel car phaseout dates.

Current policies would leave the world on a path to a devastating temperature rise. But work done by independent experts Climate Action Tracker show that with the full implementation of the fresh collective commitments could hold temperature rise to 1.8C.

Even with the action committed both during and before COP26, communities around the world will continue to feel the impact of our changing planet.

Reflecting on the task ahead, COP26 President Alok Sharma said: “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26.

“From here, we must now move forward together and deliver on the expectations set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact, and close the vast gap which remains.

Responding to the climate deal, Dave Jones, Global Program Lead, Ember, said, “This is momentous: the net is closing in on fossil fuels and coal is at the frontline.

“Coal needs to be the first fossil fuel to go, and mid-century is clearly too late. Today is an urgent wake up call to do whatever it takes to stop using coal for making electricity.

“Final wording on ‘phaseout’ or ‘phasedown’ doesn’t change that fact. Countries will need to submit new climate plans for 2030 by the end of next year, so there are only 12 months for countries to work out how to solve their coal problem.”