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COP26 closes with ‘compromise’ deal on climate, but it’s not enough, says UN chief

Nov 14: After extending the COP26 climate negotiations an extra day, nearly 200 countries meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, adopted on Saturday an outcome document that, according to the UN Secretary-General, “reflects the interests, the contradictions, and the state of political will in the world today”.

“It is an important step but is not enough. We must accelerate climate action to keep alive the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees”, said António Guterres in a video statement released at the close of the two-week meeting.

The UN chief added that it is time to go “into emergency mode”, ending fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out coal, putting a price on carbon, protecting vulnerable communities, and delivering the $100 billion climate finance commitment.

“We did not achieve these goals at this conference. But we have some building blocks for progress,” he said.

Guterres also had a message to young people, indigenous communities, women leaders, and all those leading the charge on climate action.

“I know you are disappointed. But the path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives, and this fight must be won. Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward”.

The outcome document, known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, calls on 197 countries to report their progress towards more climate ambition next year, at COP27, set to take place in Egypt.

The outcome also firms up the global agreement to accelerate action on climate this decade.

However, COP26 President Alok Sharma struggled to hold back tears following the announcement of a last-minute change to the pact, by China and India, softening language circulated in an earlier draft about “the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”. As adopted on Saturday, that language was revised to “phase down” coal use.

Sharma apologized for “the way the process has unfolded” and added that he understood some delegations would be “deeply disappointed” that the stronger language had not made it into the final agreement.

By other terms of the wide-ranging set of decisions, resolutions and statements that make up the outcome of COP26, governments were,among other things, asked to provide tighter deadlines for updating their plans to reduce emissions.

On the thorny question of financing from developed countries in support of climate action in developing countries, the text emphasizes the need to mobilize climate finance “from all sources to reach the level needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including significantly increasing support for developing country Parties, beyond $100 billion per year”.

“Negotiations are never easy…this is the nature of consensus and multilateralism”, said Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

She stressed that for every announcement made during the past two weeks, the expectation is that the implementation “plans and the fine print” will follow.

“Let us enjoy what we accomplished but also prepare for what is coming,” Ms. Espinosa said, after recognizing the advancements on adaptation, among others.

Meanwhile, COP26 President Alok Sharma stated that delegations could say “with credibility” that they have kept 1.5 degrees within reach.

“But its pulse is weak. And it will only survive if we keep our promises. If we translate commitments into rapid action. If we deliver on the expectations set out in this Glasgow Climate Pact to increase ambition to 2030 and beyond. And if we close the vast gap that remains, as we must,” he told delegates.

He then quoted Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who earlier in the conference had said that for Barbados and other small island states, ‘two degrees is a death sentence.’ With that in mind, Sharma asked delegates to continue their efforts to get finance flowing and boost adaptation.

He concluded by saying that history has been made in Glasgow.

“We must now ensure that the next chapter charts the success of the commitments we have solemnly made together in the Glasgow Climate Pact, he declared.

Earlier during the conference's final stocktaking plenary, many countries lamented that the package of agreed decisions was not enough. Some called it "disappointing", but overall, said they recognized it was balanced for what could be agreed at this moment in time and given their differences.

Countries like Nigeria, Palau, the Philippines, Chile and Turkey all said that although there were imperfections, they broadly supported the text.

“It is (an) incremental step forward but not in line with the progress needed. It will be too late for the Maldives. This deal does not bring hope to our hearts,” said the Maldives’ top negotiator in a bittersweet speech.

US climate envoy John Kerry said the text “is a powerful statement” and assured delegates that his country will engage constructively in a dialogue on "loss and damage" and adaptation, two of issues that proved most difficult for the negotiators to agree upon.

“The text represents the ‘least worst’ outcome,” concluded the top negotiator from New Zealand.

Beyond the political negotiations and the Leaders’ Summit, COP26 brought together about 50,000 participants online and in-person to share innovative ideas, solutions, attend cultural events and build partnerships and coalitions.

The conference heard many encouraging announcements. One of the biggest was that leaders from over 120 countries, representing about 90 per cent of the world’s forests, pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, the date by which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to curb poverty and secure the planet’s future are supposed to have been achieved.

There was also a methane pledge, led by the United States and the European Union, by which more than 100 countries agreed to cut emissions of this greenhouse gas by 2030.

Meanwhile, more than 40 countries – including major coal-users such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile – agreed to shift away from coal, one of the biggest generators CO2 emissions.

The private sector also showed strong engagement with nearly 500 global financial services firms agreeing to align $130 trillion – some 40 per cent of the world’s financial assets – with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Also, in a surprise for many, the United States and China pledged to boost climate cooperation over the next decade. In a joint declaration they said they had agreed to take steps on a range of issues, including methane emissions, transition to clean energy and decarbonization. They also reiterated their commitment to keep the 1.5C goal alive.

Regarding green transport, more than 100 national governments, cities, states and major car companies signed the Glasgow Declaration on Zero-Emission Cars and Vans to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets, and by 2040 worldwide.  At least 13 nations also committed to end the sale of fossil fuel powered heavy duty vehicles by 2040.

Many ‘smaller’ but equally inspiring commitments were made over the past two weeks, including one by 11 countries which created the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA). Ireland, France, Denmark, and Costa Rica among others, as well as some subnational governments, launched this first-of-its kind alliance to set an end date for national oil and gas exploration and extraction.

To keep it simple, COP26 was the latest and one of the most important steps in the decades long, UN-facilitated effort to help stave off what has been called a looming climate emergency.

In 1992, the UN organized a major event in Rio de Janeiro called the Earth Summit, in which the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted.

In this treaty, nations agreed to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere” to prevent dangerous interference from human activity on the climate system. Today, the treaty has 197 signatories.

Since 1994, when the treaty entered into force, every year the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits or “COPs”, which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’.

This year should have been the 27th annual summit, but thanks to COVID-19, we’ve fallen a year behind due to last year’s postponement – hence, COP26.

As COP26 deadline slips, negotiators to keep working to agree crucial climate deal

GLASGOW, Nov 12: COP26, the UN climate summit in Glasgow, is running into overtime, as leaders and negotiators will keep working to reach a deal that could spare the world from catastrophic global warming.

Alok Sharma, the COP26 President, said late on Friday that a small number of key issues remain unresolved.

“This is our collective moment in history, this is our chance to forge a cleaner, healthier and more prosperous world, and this is our time to deliver on the high ambition set by our leaders at the start of the summit, we must rise to the occasion,” he said during an informal plenary to update delegates.

He reported that Ministers had worked late into the night to discuss finance and "loss and damage", and that it was still his “sincere intention” to get a final agreement over the line by the end of the day.

“We need a final injection of that can-do spirit to get our shared endeavor over the line,” he said.

The plenary heard statements from various countries, including a strong call from many representatives to add to the outcome text language that would lead to the end of all fossil fuel use, not just coal.

The latest draft text currently states: “Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

“This is personal, it’s not about politics,” said the European Union’s top negotiator, adding that the targets in Glasgow would be “utterly meaningless” unless countries agree on a clear signal to end all fossil fuel subsidies.

On the same topic, John Kerry, the US climate envoy, said that to keep spending money on these types of subsidies is “insanity”.

“Those subsidies have to go. We’re the largest oil and gas producer in the world and we have some of those subsidies and President Biden has put in legislation to get rid of them,” he said.

The US, he continued, struggles each year to find money, “but $2.5 trillion in the last five or six years went into subsidies for fossil fuel. That’s the definition of insanity. We’re allowing ourselves to feed the very problem we’re here to try to cure. It doesn't make sense,” stated Kerry.

Another thorny issue that remains unresolved is the extent to which developed countries will compensate vulnerable nations for ‘loss and damage’ caused by climate change.

The representative from the G77 and China negotiating group of developing countries, said that they were “deeply disappointed" that their proposal to establish a Glasgow Loss and Damage Facility is not reflected on the text.

“That proposal has been put forward by the entire developing world, to respond to our needs…To address the loss and damage inflicted by climate change”, he said.

Likewise, there was a push from many countries to strengthen the call to keep alive the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to demonstrate more ambition on climate finance.

“We came to Glasgow with high hopes and expectations, however in this final hour of COP26, we have doubts, and we still keep hearing some pushback on the ambition that is required to close the 2030 gap in line with the 1.5-degree target, reservations on support for loss and damage…and we are still waiting to see much-needed progress on climate finance”, said Buthan’s negotiator, speaking on behald of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Earlier in the day, civil society groups took over the COP26 plenary room, the same one negotiators had sat in for their stocktaking meetings.

To start, delegates were asked to stand if they had lost loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and if they had experienced climate impacts. Most of them did.

“There is no doubt that we the people representing all countries across the world, in our diversity, have all felt the impacts of a pandemic and a climate crisis. It is the same sections of society that bear the full burdens of these different crises,” said Tasneem Essop, Executive Director of CAN-International.

Representing African civil society, Mohamed Adow claimed that they had been “locked out of the process” at COP26.

“We the people demand global North countries pay their climate debt, deliver a global goal on adaptation, address climate injustice and pay up for losses and damages”, he said.

After the interventions, the organizations, which included indigenous collectives and women’s groups, marched out of the plenary and were joined by many other participants waiting for them in the halls. Holding picket signs and banners, they shouted demands for climate justice as they made their way out of the conference.

Outside the gates, they met up with a larger group of demonstrators and they all continued together across the river towards the iconic Finnieston Street bridge, where some waited most of the day for the conference’s final outcome.

 

India, UK Launch Plan To Connect World's Power Grids At Climate Summit

LONDON, Nov 2: Britain and India launched a plan on Tuesday to improve connections between the world's electricity power grids to help accelerate the world's transition to greener energy.

Launched at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland, the plan, dubbed the "Green Grids Initiative - One Sun One World One Grid", was backed by more than 80 countries, the British government said in a statement.

The initiative aims to make renewable energy the most affordable and reliable option for all countries by 2030 and was an important contribution to the world's goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms.

"If the world has to move to a clean and green future, these interconnected transnational grids are going to be critical solutions," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

The plan forms a key part of a broader plan to speed up the roll out of affordable 'green' technology, covering more than 70% of the global economy and the 'Breakthrough Agenda'.

Announcing the first five goals of the plan, dubbed the 'Glasgow Breakthroughs', British Prime Minister Boris Johnson flagged high-level targets to push clean power, zero emissions autos, near-zero emission steel, low-carbon hydrogen and climate-resilient agriculture.

"By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, the default go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can cut emissions right around the world," Johnson said.

Among other plans to be announced, the Global Energy Alliance for People & Planet was launched with an initial $10 billion from philanthropies and development banks to support the energy transition in the Global South.

The United States and the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, launched AIM4C, to drive innovation in sustainable agriculture, backed by $4 billion in extra investment.

To help cut down the cost of clean technology and create markets in everything from green hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel, the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst programme will aim to raise $30 billion, the statement said.

At COP26 event, Modi offers ‘One Sun, One grid’ solution to world's fossil fuel crisis

GLASGOW, Nov 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said use of fossil fuels made some countries prosperous, but made the earth and environment poor. The race for fossil fuels also created geo-political tensions, the Prime Minister said at a session on ‘accelerating clean technology innovation and deployment’ as part of United Nations’ COP26 world leaders’ summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

He said solar energy was totally clean and sustainable, but it was only available during daytime and dependent on the weather. Laying out a plan through the ‘One Sun, One World and One Grid' solution, the Prime Minister said, “Through a worldwide grid, clean energy can be transmitted anywhere and anytime.”

He said Indian space research agency ISRO will provide a solar calculator application to the world.

“The 'One Sun, One World and One Grid' solution will not only reduce storage needs, but also enhance viability of solar projects. This creative initiative will not only reduce carbon footprints and energy cost but also open a new avenue for cooperation between different countries and regions,” he further said.

“I am hopeful that a common and strong global grid can be developed through cooperation between 'One Sun, One World and One Grid' and 'Green Grid' initiatives.”

India to Reach Net Zero Emissions by 2070, Says Modi at COP26 Summit

GLASGOW, Nov 1: India will reach net zero emission by 2070, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the COP26 Glasgow summit on Monday. The PM urged developed nations to create a 1 trillion dollar-climate fund, and shared five commitments of India to tackle climate change.

Modi called for adopting the knowledge of traditional communities living close to nature, in his address to the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Talking about the effect of climate change on small farmers in India, the PM said it was forcing them to change their cropping patterns. Modi then called for local support for global adaptation.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opened a global climate summit, saying the world is strapped to a “doomsday device.” Johnson likened the Earth’s position to that of fictional secret agent James Bond — strapped to a bomb that will destroy the planet and trying to work out how to defuse it.

He told leaders Monday that “we are in roughly the same position” — only now the “ticking doomsday device” is real and not fiction. He was kicking off the world leaders’ summit portion of a U.N. climate conference, which is aimed at getting agreement to curb carbon emissions fast enough to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) below pre-industrial levels.

'Code red' for human driven global heating: UN chief

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9: Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame, according to the latest much-anticipated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on Monday.

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Scientists are also observing changes across the whole of Earth’s climate system; in the atmosphere, in the oceans, ice floes, and on land.

Many of these changes are unprecedented, and some of the shifts are in motion now, while some - such as continued sea level rise – are already ‘irreversible’ for centuries to millennia, ahead, the report warns.

But there is still time to limit climate change, IPCC experts say. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, could quickly make air quality better, and in 20 to 30 years global temperatures could stabilize.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the Working Group's report was nothing less than "a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable".

He noted that the internationally-agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels of global heating was "perilously close. We are at imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold, is by urgently stepping up our efforts, and persuing the most ambitious path.

The UN chief in a detailed reaction to the report, said that solutions were clear. "Inclusive and green economies, prosperity, cleaner air and better health are possible for all, if we respond to this crisis with solidarity and courage", he said.

He added that ahead of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in November, all nations - especiall the advanced G20 economies - needed to join the net zero emissions coaltion, and reinforce their promises on slowing down and reversing global heating, "with credible, concrete, and enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)" that lay out detailed steps.

The report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, highlights that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.

In 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 2 million years, and concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide were higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.

Global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over a least the last 2,000 years. For example, temperatures during the most recent decade (2011–2020) exceed those of the most recent multi-century warm period, around 6,500 years ago, the report indicates.

Meanwhile, global mean sea level has risen faster since 1900, than over any preceding century in at least the last 3,000 years.

The document shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming between 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of heating.

The IPCC scientists warn global warming of 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century. Unless rapid and deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades, achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement “will be beyond reach”.

The assessment is based on improved data on historical warming, as well as progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused emissions.

“It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair, Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “Yet the new report also reflects major advances in the science of attribution – understanding the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events”.

The experts reveal that human activities affect all major climate system components, with some responding over decades and others over centuries.

Scientists also point out that evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and their attribution to human influence, has strengthened.

They add that many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming.

This includes increases in the frequency and intensity of heat extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation; agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions; the proportion of intense tropical cyclones; as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.

The report makes clear that while natural drivers will modulate human-caused changes, especially at regional levels and in the near term, they will have little effect on long-term global warming.

The IPCC experts project that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons.

At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes are more likely to reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health.

But it won’t be just about temperature. For example, climate change is intensifying the natural production of water – the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.

It is also affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon rain patterns are expected, which will vary by region, the report warns.

Moreover, coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion.

Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.

The report also indicates that further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.

Changes to the ocean, including warming, more frequent marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels, affect both ocean ecosystems and the people that rely on them, and they will continue throughout at least the rest of this century.

Experts warn that for cities, some aspects of climate change may be magnified, including heat, flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.

Furthermore, IPCC scientists caution that low-likelihood outcomes, such as ice sheet collapse or abrupt ocean circulation changes, cannot be ruled out.

“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” highlights IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.

The report explains that from a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative carbon dioxide emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions.

“Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in methane emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution”, IPCC scientists underscore.

A 16-year-old child swims in the flooded area of Aberao village in Kiribati. The Pacific island is one of the countries worst affected by sea-level rise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide political leaders with periodic scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.

In the same year the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by the WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC. It has 195 member states.

Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.

 

 

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