UN Climate Conference: What should Ukraine prepare for?

March for climate 2021 in Kyiv
Ekonomichna Pravda
UN Climate Conference: What should Ukraine prepare for?

Important climate talks will begin in the UK in a week. Leaders from around the world will gather in Glasgow to present their Renewed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and discuss further steps to curb rising temperatures.

Why do we need to fight fever at all? This was described in a report by an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As the average world temperature rises by 1.5 ° C, the number of abnormal heat waves will increase, the warm seasons will become longer, and the cold seasons will become shorter. With global warming at 2 ° C, the heat will become a serious threat to human health and agriculture. In addition, climate change is increasing the number of natural disasters in the world - if the temperature rises, floods, fires, typhoons and floods - will become a frequent phenomenon, leading to devastating consequences.

The Climate Conference is also called Cop26 (Conference of the Parties), because it is the 26th meeting of the signatories of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was signed in 1992 and aimed to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. Its main mechanisms have been international legal instruments with more specific obligations, such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.

What are the governments going to negotiate with?

It was the Paris Agreement, signed in 2015, that launched the Nationally Determined  Contributions mechanism, according to which 191 signatory countries must present their climate ambitions and a clear plan for achieving them every 5 years. The ultimate goal is to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 ° C by the end of the century.

This bottom-up approach means that governments themselves decide how quickly to decarbonise their economy. The deadline set by the UN for the promulgation of the second NDC was in July this year.

The United States, Canada, the EU and the United Kingdom are among the 110 countries with significant developing economies. They have officially submitted to the UN plans that are more ambitious than the previous ones. By the way, Ukraine too. For example, the United Kingdom has promised to reduce CO2 emissions by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 and by 78% by 2035. The European Union seeks to reduce at least 55% by 2030 from 1990 levels. And the US target is a reduction of 50-52% from 2005 levels. Ukraine has proposed a 65% reduction from 1990 levels.

However, a number of the largest CO2 emitting countries missed the submission deadline. India and Saudi Arabia have not yet submitted their updated NDCs. Other countries like Australia and Russia have simply reaffirmed their old goals without increasing ambition. Brazil has even softened its commitments. No one can force the country to decarbonise, there are no sanctions for non-compliance with the Paris Agreement. Therefore, the UN representatives can only "call on governments" or put pressure on them in public plane.

The main topics that the negotiating delegations should discuss

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Boris Johnson summed up the agenda of the conference as follows: "coal, cash, cars and trees."

Coal: The UK wants to make Cop26 a summit that will "send coal into history". In May, the G7 countries agreed to end direct government support for coal energy. But countries such as China, Russia and India have recently opposed the G20's commitment to phasing out coal mining. Undoubtedly, oil and gas and coal interests will try to find a way to join the negotiations. How much impact they will have - just demonstrate the effectiveness or failure of Cop26.

Cash: In 2009, developed countries agreed to mobilize $ 100 billion by 2020 to replenish the Green Climate Fund. The Fund should provide funding for decarbonisation and climate change adaptation measures in developing countries and those most affected by the effects of climate change. According to the latest estimates, the Fund is short of $ 20 billion. Germany and Canada have been tasked with drawing up a plan to close the gap before Cop26. US President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will contribute $ 5.7 billion to the fund this year, which is a big step compared to Trump's years.

Cars: The UK hopes to speed up the transition to electric cars, proposing to stop selling petrol cars by 2040. It created the Council for the Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicles, which brought together ministers and representatives of major automotive markets, although China is not on the list.

Trees: Together with the United States and Norway, the United Kingdom has launched the Leef Coalition, which aims to mobilize $ 1 billion in public and private funding to protect tropical forests from deforestation and degradation.

What is the importance of the Conference for Ukraine?

Although Ukraine has made a relatively ambitious nationally determined contribution, to implement it, we need money and significant changes in the economic sector. The Ukrainian government has planned € 10 billion annually to finance emission reduction measures. Without the financial participation of world leaders, it will be difficult for us to achieve this, especially to abandon fossil fuels, to transform the energy sector, which is responsible for 66% of greenhouse gas emissions in Ukraine.

It is important that our negotiating delegation be able to communicate this to the international community, as well as to show our desire to keep pace with the civilized world on the path to carbon neutrality.

This story was originally published in Ekonomichna Pravda on October 22, 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 Center for Peace and Security.

Banner image: The 2021 March for Climate in Kyiv, Ukraine / Credit: TKTKTK.

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