COP26: Global south ‘feels cheated’ again

A cameraman sits in front of a screen displaying COP26 logo during a news conference at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 5, 2021. Photo : Reuters
COP26: Global south ‘feels cheated’ again

As wealthy nations shrugged responsibility for their role in the climate crisis, those most impacted by climate change felt they were silenced at the COP26 in Glasgow.

Among the major goals of the summit were to "keep 1.5C alive"; finance and recognition of loss and damages; additional finance from the richer countries for adaptation; and $100 billion in climate finance a year to the developing countries to help those cut emissions and cope with the impacts of extreme weather.

But the latest draft decisions did not conclude the finance issues of including the spending ratio of 50:50 for adaptation and mitigation.

No concrete decision was made either on the demand of the developing countries to disburse the $100bn before 2024. Moreover, the issue of loss and damage was slated for further discussion at a later date.

The draft of the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, including a series of decisions and resolutions based on the Paris Agreement, is now awaiting an informal plenary discussion. 

Noted climate scientist professor Saleemul Huq told The Business Standard, "The draft decisions are totally unacceptable for Bangladesh and the developing countries. We will raise our voice at the informal plenary session which is scheduled to be held."

Harjeet Singh, a global expert on the issues of climate impacts, migration and adaptation, said "The new COP26 draft text replaces the Glasgow loss and damage facility with a dialogue next year. It is terrible! We have seen such dialogues in the past delivering absolutely nothing on loss and damage finance."

In the COP decision, the phrase "loss and damage" was explicitly included for the first time. The developing countries raised a strong voice for the funding of loss and damage from adverse effects of climate change as compensation.

Climate impacts are estimated to have caused residual damages of $1.2 trillion.

The developed countries, however, did not agree to financing loss and damage as they "don't want to take responsibility for climate change impacts", climate activists and delegates of developing countries said.

Climate activist Sanjay Vashist, director, Climate Action Network South Asia, said, "For the people of South Asia, a region that is being slammed by climate-induced disasters every day, COP26 was indeed the last chance to find a permanent solution to the climate crisis. Unfortunately, the voices of the most vulnerable and the most impacted have been silenced and the "interest of the fossil fuel corporations have been clearly pandered to by the UK COP presidency".

"Instead of building trust, the global south has been cheated once again. Instead of funding for loss and damage, what we have is yet another greenwash that will ensure genocide by extreme weather events in developing countries," he said.  

One draft decision acknowledged that climate change had already and would increasingly cause loss and damage and, as temperatures rise, impacts from climate and weather extremes, as well as slow-onset events, would "pose an ever-greater social, economic and environmental threat."

In another decision, it asked for action and support in this regard to be scaled up. 

The milestone of the COP26 was the $2m pledge from the Scottish government for loss and damage.

Another notable development was leading philanthropies -- Children's Investment Fund Foundation, the European Climate Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the Global Green Grants Fund -- providing $3m in initial support for losses and damages.  

While announcing the $3m, the philanthropies, in a joint statement, said, "The creation of a Glasgow Loss & Damage Facility at COP26 could signal a new era for global climate solidarity…"

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, told The Business Standard, "We must keep the issue alive for negotiation at the next COP in Egypt, where we hope there will be much progress."

Finance for adaptation receives record-shattering pledge

The adaptation fund received a record-shattering $232.6m at COP26 in new support from contributing national and regional governments. For the first time, the US and Canada pledged contributions, along with new pledges from 13 new donors.

The Fund's previous annual resource mobilisation record was $129m, which it reached three years ago at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

The draft decision in this regard urged developed countries to "urgently and significantly scale up their provision of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity-building for adaptation so as to respond to the needs of developing country Parties as part of a global effort, including for the formulation and implementation of national adaptation plans."

Professor Ainun Nishat, who is leading the Bangladesh adaptation negotiation, told TBS, "It is impossible for the developing countries to be prepared for the impacts of climate change without money. So, our demand was to increase the fund for adaptation as the government can take preparation and continue the adaptation work."

The earlier draft decision, which was released on Friday, asked wealthy nations "to at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country parties..."

But the last latest draft released on Saturday morning proposed by the COP president omitted these provisions.

As the draft decision is still waiting for the informal plenary session, Bangladesh said they will raise the demand again for the 50:50 adaptation and mitigation fund.

"Keep 1.5C alive" was one of the major demands of the countries to cut emissions and to foster a livable world. This was included in the draft decisions. 

The draft decision 16 proposed by the president also recognised that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C required rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 and to net-zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.

The 100bn climate finance

Developed countries promised in the 2009 UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen that wealthy nations would provide $100bn a year by 2020 to the poor countries.

The promise was yet to be implemented. Although the issue was discussed on numerous occasions, the developed countries said the target would be delayed by 2023, which also disappointed vulnerable countries.

The COP26 president proposed a draft decision that emphasised the need to mobilise climate finance from all sources to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, beyond the $100bn per year.

It also urged developed countries to deliver on the goal urgently and through 2025.

It also noted that the $100bn goal was not met, urging the developed countries to fully deliver.

Saber Hossain said that the developed countries could not fulfil their pledge.

"Now we demand that they have to provide $500bn for the five years since 2020 till 2024," he added.

This story was originally published in the Business Standard Bangladesh on November 13, 2021. It was produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Centre for Peace and Security.

Banner image: A cameraman sits in front of a screen displaying COP26 logo during a news conference at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 5, 2021 / Credit: Reuters.

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