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COP26 agrees deal aimed at averting climate catastrophe, after late drama

Commodities Nov 13, 2021 11:01PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Delegates rest during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 12, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo 2/2
 
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By Valerie Volcovici, Kate Abnett and William James

GLASGOW (Reuters) - U.N. climate talks in Scotland ended with a global agreement aimed at keeping alive hopes of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, and so maintain a realistic shot at saving the world from catastrophic climate change.

Alok Sharma, the conference https://www.reuters.com/business/cop chairman, was visibly emotional before banging down his gavel in relief to signal that there were no vetoes from the almost 200 national delegations present in Glasgow, ranging from coal- and gas-fuelled superpowers to oil producers and Pacific islands being swallowed by the rise in sea levels.

The two-week conference in Glasgow, which extended into an extra day https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/cop26-final-hours-climate-negotiations-2021-11-12 of tortuous negotiations, was the 26th of its kind but the first to call for a reduction in fossil fuels, which not only power much of the world's economy but are also the main cause of manmade global warming.

There was last-minute drama as India, backed by China and other coal-dependent developing nations, raised objections to this part of the agreement and asked for the wording to be rewritten. The clause was hurriedly amended to ask countries to accelerate their efforts towards a coal power "phase down" instead of "phase out".

India's environment and climate minister, Bhupender Yadav, said the revision was needed to reflect the "national circumstances of emerging economies."

"We are becoming the voice of the developing countries," he told Reuters, adding that coal had been "singled out" during the COP26 talks while there was no similar call to phase out oil or natural gas.

"We made our effort to make a consensus that is reasonable for developing countries and reasonable for climate justice," he said, alluding to the fact that rich nations historically have emitted the largest share of greenhouse gases https://graphics.reuters.com/CLIMATE-UN/EMISSIONS/jnvwexaryvw/index.html.

The one-word change in the agreement was met with dismay by the rich economies of the European Union and Switzerland, as well as by a large group of small island states, whose existence is under threat from rising sea levels.

But all said they would let it stand for the sake of an overall agreement.

"The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today," said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"They take important steps, but unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions."

'DEEP DISAPPOINTMENT'

Sharma had had the onerous task of balancing the demands of climate-vulnerable https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/that-sinking-feeling-poor-nations-struggle-with-un-climate-fund-2021-11-11 nations, big industrial powers, and those like India and China whose consumption or exports of fossil fuels are vital to their economic development.

His voice broke with emotion after he heard vulnerable nations express their anger over the last-minute changes.

"May I just say to all delegates I apologise for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry," he told the assembly.

"I also understand the deep disappointment but I think, as you have noted, it's also vital that we protect this package."

The overarching aim that he set before the conference was one that climate campaigners and vulnerable countries had found far too modest - namely, to "keep alive" the 2015 Paris Agreement's target to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/whats-difference-between-15c-2c-global-warming-2021-11-07 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The agreement in effect acknowledged that commitments made so far to cut emissions of planet-heating greenhouse gases are nowhere near enough, and asked nations to set tougher climate pledges next year, rather than every five years, as they are currently required to do.

Scientists say that to go beyond a rise of 1.5C would unleash extreme sea level rise and catastrophes including crippling droughts, monstrous storms and wildfires far worse than those the world is already suffering.

But national pledges made so far to cut greenhouse emissions - mostly carbon dioxide from burning coal, oil and gas - would only cap the average global temperature rise at 2.4 Celsius.

'THE ERA OF COAL IS ENDING'

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of the campaign group Greenpeace, saw the glass as half-full.

"They changed a word but they can’t change the signal coming out of this COP, that the era of coal is ending," she said. "If you’re a coal company executive, this COP saw a bad outcome."

Developing countries argue that rich nations, whose historical emissions https://www.reuters.com/business/cop/biggest-carbon-emitter-blame-game-troubles-cop26-talks-2021-11-11 are largely responsible for heating up the planet, must pay more to help them adapt to its consequences as well as reducing their carbon footprints.

The deal gave the poorest nations more promises, but no guarantees, that they would finally get more of the financial help they have long been told they will get.

It urged rich countries to double finance for climate adaptation by 2025 from 2019 levels, offering funding that has been a key demand of small island nations at the conference.

Adaptation funds primarily go to the very poorest countries and currently take up only a small fraction of climate funding.

A U.N. committee will also report next year on progress towards delivering the $100 billion per year in overall annual climate funding that rich nations had promised by 2020 but failed to deliver. And governments will be summoned to meet in 2022, 2024 and 2026 to discuss climate finance.

Yet even $100 billion a year is far short of poorer countries' actual needs, which could hit $300 billion by 2030 in adaptation costs alone, according to the United Nations, in addition to economic losses from crop failure or climate-related disasters.

COP26 agrees deal aimed at averting climate catastrophe, after late drama
 

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Comments (13)
Yuge Profits
Yuge Profits Nov 14, 2021 4:59PM ET
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make fossil fuel expensive like oil and natgas
jj mm
jj mm Nov 14, 2021 6:42AM ET
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So this is the 26th meeting.....nobody will do anything. The live on planet earth is already condemned. All this
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Nov 14, 2021 1:49AM ET
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Steffen the present state of earth ecosystems are not stable. if nothing is done you and your family are screwed. the collapse of earth's natural order in the oceans is already on the verge of collapse.
Steven ML
Steven ML Nov 14, 2021 1:49AM ET
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Fully agree Ac, ecosystems are completely out of balance, mostly due to mankind and we should spare no means to try and bring it back to a more stable situation. But all of the issues are grouped under "climate change", creating a completely wrong focus. I am convinced we can make significant changes but then we need to make proper root cause analyses and make everybody's role and responsibility clear in this major task. It doesn't help to group everything under "climate change", in fact it will create resistance and divide people. And that is a wasted opportunity as we need each other. We should stop thinking in terms of good and bad as people then only have two choices: in favor or against. I am 100% convinced that people can and will support if they can see how they can contribute. Focus on solutions at every level possible and not on the problem at the highest level (global warming/climate change). It creates resistance
Empire Destroyer
Empire Destroyer Nov 14, 2021 1:49AM ET
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root cause analysis - corporates are greedy, do whatever for higher profits for them and their shareholders. Humans are lazy, life too convenient to change
Nov 14, 2021 1:49AM ET
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Steven ML I appreciate your integrated perspective.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Nov 14, 2021 1:49AM ET
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Ac: Language a little harsh but likely justified.
Steven ML
Steven ML Nov 14, 2021 1:44AM ET
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Climate change.... as if the earth is a stable planet by nature. Climate change is just another justification to: raise taxes, blame others, feel superior to other people, criticize others, fill your pockets, riot, force views on to others. No surprise it has been claimed by socialists/left wing
Todd Gray
Todd Gray Nov 13, 2021 8:06PM ET
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The people should have the right to vote on such matters. Vote in the other party next election, and the USA can pull out on inauguration day.
Pilot TwoFive
Pilot TwoFive Nov 13, 2021 5:23PM ET
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What a bunch of nonsense….
Karl Kessler
Karl Kessler Nov 13, 2021 5:00PM ET
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They don't need to meet to stop emissions. In fact, al they need to do is raise interest rates. Instead, they're doing exactly the wrong thing - increasing spending, which will increase fossil fuel consumption.
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Nov 13, 2021 4:26PM ET
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Way to extract 100 billions out of usa. Sahme on Biden selling us out
Karl Kessler
Karl Kessler Nov 13, 2021 4:26PM ET
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Just one moth of Fed's trash. What's the big deal? It's not real money.
Matt Brackley
Matt Brackley Nov 13, 2021 3:12PM ET
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got a plastic 0.99 cent toothbrush shipped 200km in a 2'X2' box. Thanks Amazon!
Karl Kessler
Karl Kessler Nov 13, 2021 3:12PM ET
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Dude, that's on you.
Jeffry Milan
Jeffry Milan Nov 13, 2021 2:48PM ET
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What is that first man on the left doing on his mask lols
 
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