One Month after COP26?
The dust has settled on last month’s global climate negotiations held in Glasgow. For climate activists, the results were very disappointing. Campaigners including from the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) argued passionately for an ambitious deal to keep global warming under 1.5°C as agreed in the Paris Agreement. COP26 (Conference of Parties) did not deliver a definitive statement on how the global community would reach this goal or steps on how it would be reached. Instead, some decisions were made in and around the meeting that keep the glimmer of hope alive for our Pacific neighbours who are in their words ‘fighting for their lives’.
- Cutting Emissions or Mitigation: The meeting agreed to ask countries to come back in 2022 with stronger commitments to cut emissions, earlier than required. Under the Paris Agreement countries are required to report their Nationally Determined Contribution (countries’ nonbinding plans to cut emissions, pegged to 2030) to the UNFCCC every five years. Based on emissions reports submitted ahead of COP26, analysts calculated global warming would increase by 2.4°C by the end of the century, leading to extreme and devastating weather.
- Climate Finance: In 2009 developed countries promised US $100 billion to developing countries so they could cut emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. By 2019, only US$80 billion had been paid and most money was given to middle income countries for renewable energy sources and projects to cut emissions, not dealing with the effects. Developing countries need climate finance so their people can deal with the reality of climate change they are facing every day and prepare for more intense natural disasters. New Zealand committed to an increase in funding ahead of COP26.
- Loss and Damage: No progress was made on paying compensation to developing countries for the irreparable harm caused by the high level of emissions. Homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by landslides, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. Rich countries are reluctant to admit responsibility for Loss and Damage and the possibility of legal proceedings.
- Fossil Fuels: The Glasgow Climate Pact acknowledged the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels for the first time since the signing of the Kyoto protocol in 1997. The final wording was diluted at the insistence of India and China to “accelerating efforts towards the phase down of unabated coal power”, but it was a step forward.
What happened at COP26?
Outside the official negotiating zones, people raised their voices for climate justice. An estimated 150,000 people marched for climate justice on the streets of Glasgow on November 6th 2021. Others met with negotiators, the media and government officials and advisors in an effort to influence negotiations. Concern was raised that there were 503 fossil fuel lobbyists, more than Brazil which sent the largest number of delegates to COP26. There was one Pacific negotiator to 12 fossil fuel lobbyists.
People of faith including Rev James Bhagwan and Iemaima Vaai from our partner the PCC met with negotiators, media, churches and campaigners in Glasgow.
“Something that we at Pacific Conference of Churches continuously ask ourselves is how can we continue to sing the lord’s song in foreign lands? In this space we as Pasifika people are reminded that the song we continue to sing in the face of the crisis is not just of praise but of protest as well.
… A space where I was able to share a song filled with the resilient voices of our Pasifika aiga that praises the beauty and the diversity of all that is us whilst also protesting for climate demands that ensure a future for our people to flourish and thrive.”
Outside the formal UN talks, new collaborations and pledges were made. New Zealand became an associate member of Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) – it has issued new oil and gas exploration permits – and the prime minister signed the Global Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use.
Inside the talks, participants finalised the Paris Rulebook, the details that make the Paris Agreement operational. The rules included those around the Carbon Market (Article 6)
The Glasgow Climate Pact contains the details agreed after two weeks of intense negotiations.
Where to from here? More must be done
The world needs more concerted action to limit global warming to 1.5°C, particularly for communities in the Global South like our neighbours in the Pacific. They face the worst effects of climate change and have done the least to contribute to it.
“The islands are severely impacted by the loss of land, relocation and displacement. We are a region that is deeply spiritual, that is predominantly Christian and that is not ashamed to rely on that spirituality when we need it…. This is really a challenge for us in the Pacific because every year that things are delayed that means more suffering for our Pacific communities. That means more pressure on our bigger Pacific Island countries. More pressure on our ocean.”
James Bhagwan, General Secretary of PCC, at the 2021 CWS Supporters’ Council.
COP27 is scheduled for 2022 in Egypt. There is much work to be done to ensure climate justice.
The New Zealand Government is due to report on its Emission Reduction Plan in May 2022.
CWS will share reflections and reports from PCC and other partners as part of our campaign for climate justice. We support the ACT Alliance climate justice campaign.
Image: Lomana Na Vulagi (Love the Stranger) Farm in Fiji. PCC will plant 20 trees to offset the amount of fossil fuel used to send their delegation to Europe for COP26 and other meetings. Credit: PCC
December 15, 2021
“Disappointed but not Disheartened” – Ecumenical Report on COP26
ACT Alliance, the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council have released a deeper analysis of COP26. Read more.