Updated on November 12, 2021 at 10:41 pm
- It is too late for final decisions at the United Nations climate conference.
- But environmental groups complain that the draft final text is too weak and incomplete.
Hours of debate over the global coal stop sign and more aid payments to poor countries frustrated the conclusion of the World Climate Conference in Glasgow. Negotiations are now underway until at least Saturday. A new draft of the final declaration will be submitted only in the morning, Glasgow-based German news agency DPA has learned from negotiating circles. In fact, the summit was supposed to end on Friday evening.
An adviser to UK summit chair Alok Sharma wrote on Twitter that discussions would continue overnight and that new draft texts should be released around 9am (CET). No further plenary session will be called before 11:00 AM (CET) and the result will be sought in the afternoon.
Environmental groups cautioned against mitigating the final document planned at the last minute, calling for more efforts from the federal government and warning that COP26 should not become an “air number”. German climate activist Luisa Neubauer also expressed her dismay at the expected decisions: “None of this corresponds to the pressure of time and human pressure that we are exposed to.”
All past years conferences have been extended through the weekend. At the end of the huge meeting, which was attended by about 40,000 delegates, about 200 countries have to pass the final text unanimously.
Climate activists have also raised the pressure again: On the streets of Glasgow, they have blasted the powerful as arsonists – sometimes posing as Boris Johnson and other politicians. Hundreds of delegates even took part in a noisy protest march into the massive convention building. They ran along the red tape and shouted “Climate Justice Now!”
People are already dying from climate change
US Climate Commissioner John Kerry has urged states to dramatically reduce their emissions of climate-damaging greenhouse gases this decade. “People are dying today,” he warned.
In the new draft of the final declaration, the first demand that coal phase-out and the end of fossil fuel subsidies should be accelerated. Now only coal-fired power plants for which carbon dioxide emissions are not associated – eg by storing it in rocks – are being recorded. Critics of this technology argue that it is uncertain whether carbon dioxide will remain trapped during the projected 10,000-year period or not escape.
“That’s the definition of insanity!”
With regard to subsidies, it is now restricted to eliminating only “ineffective” subsidies. It is up to individual countries to decide what support they should mean, Oxfam climate expert Jan Koelzig told dpa. Commenting on the dispute, Kerry said, “These subsidies have to go.” In the past five years, $2.5 trillion of these climate-damaging services have flowed around the world. “That’s the definition of insanity!”
Germany’s Greenpeace chief Martin Kaiser has declared that the loopholes on coal and subsidies urgently need to be closed. “Otherwise Glasgow would be a dangerous aerial business.” Now is the time for German Environment Minister Svenja Schulz to put the weight of the fourth largest economy in the negotiations.
Schulz expressed cautious optimism. “Good progress is already on the table,” said the Social Democrat politician. “So I’m also willing to go overtime if needed.” For the first time in the history of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, there is an opportunity to mention coal phase-out in the final text. This is a “paradigm shift”.
small bright spots
There are also small bright spots from the point of view of the environment and development associations. For the first time, the bill addresses the long-awaited request from poor countries to create a money pot to help in the event of damage and losses. This includes, for example, destruction and forced resettlement after droughts, storms or hurricanes that are increasing as a result of global warming. Countries are required to pay in these new ‘facilities’. But there is no obligation, and no specific amounts are given.
The new draft calls for rich countries to double financial assistance to poor countries to adapt to climate change, such as drought, in poor countries. The end date of 2025 has been added. Currently, about 20 billion dollars are flowing around the world for this, so it should be increased to 40 billion within four years. (mss/dpa)
Thousands of scientists around the world have warned that the Earth is approaching dramatic climate tipping points. Politics and business must respond quickly, according to a call in the specialist journal BioScience.
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