Glasgow climate promises now rest with a handful of powerful leaders

GLASGOW – After two weeks of lofty speeches and bitter negotiations between nearly 200 nations, the question of whether the world will m...

GLASGOW – After two weeks of lofty speeches and bitter negotiations between nearly 200 nations, the question of whether the world will make significant progress in slowing global warming still comes down to the actions of a handful of powerful nations that remain disagreement over how best to tackle climate change.

The United Nations global climate change conference ended on Saturday with a hotly contested deal that calls on countries to come back next year with stricter emission reduction targets and pledges to double the money available to help them. countries to deal with the effects of global warming. He also mentions by name – for the first time in a quarter of a century of global climate negotiations – the main cause of climate change: fossil fuels.

But he has failed to help the world avoid the worst effects of climate change. Even if countries keep all of the emissions promises they made, they still put the world on a dangerous path to a planet that will be about 2.4 degrees Celsius warmer by the year 2100, for example. compared to pre-industrial times.

This largely misses the goal of limiting the warming to 1.5 degrees that scientists deem necessary to avoid the worst consequences of warming. And it paves the way for worsening storms, forest fires, droughts and sea level rise, as well as the social and economic upheavals that would accompany an increasingly severe climate crisis.

A relative handful of political leaders around the world – in capitals such as Washington, Beijing and New Delhi – hold much of the influence over whether these promises are kept and whether the warming arc can be sufficiently averted from disaster. But they face a complex combination of pressures: industry interests that stand in the way of regulations, demands for money from developing countries to help them move away from fossil fuels, and an increasingly noisy movement. among citizens to limit emissions faster and deliver what they call climate justice.

The leader among leaders facing such pressure is President Biden, who is pursuing one of the largest climate legislation efforts ever in the United States, but who faces strong resistance not only from Republicans, but also from the United States. main senators from his own party.

At the same time, in China, Xi Jinping – recently elevated to the pantheon of Communist Party leaders alongside Mao Zedong – will he or will he be able to convince provincial leaders to reduce their use of the coal that has fueled China’s economic boom? Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose representatives weakened the text of the final coal deal on Saturday at the 11th hour, can he keep his promise to fivefold renewable energy sources by 2030? Will Brazil keep its promise to join other countries to reverse deforestation in the Amazon?

The pledges kept the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees “within reach – but its pulse is weak,” said Alok Sharma, the British politician who chaired the summit. “And it will only survive if we keep our promises, if we translate our commitments into swift action.”

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Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in history, has announced plans to cut emissions by 68% by 2030, from levels 1990.

But Britain is also criticized for building new roads and airports – two potential sources of carbon dioxide emissions, which are among the main causes of global warming – and for continuing to extract oil and gas from the sea. North. Mikaela Loach, a young Briton who has sued the British government on an oil and gas project there, responded to the outcome of the summit on Twitter nicknamed it “# CopOut26”.

“We cannot sit back and wait for governments to make the right decisions,” she wrote. “WE all need to be part of movements. WE must act to end the era of fossil fuels.

Also this weekend, Greta Thunberg, the young climate activist, criticized the United States for its offshore oil concession sales.

The courts have already begun to weigh in. German, Pakistani and Dutch citizens have taken legal action to force their governments to take stronger action on climate change. In the United States, a nonprofit environmental law organization sued the government on behalf of 21 young plaintiffs.

And in the first climate case against a private company, a local Dutch court earlier this year educated Royal Dutch Shell, one of the largest oil companies in the world, to dramatically reduce emissions from all of its global operations. The company is appealing the lawsuit.

For businesses, the biggest effect of the Glasgow climate meeting will likely come from a deal that was announced on the sidelines: a coalition of the world’s largest investors, banks and insurers who collectively control 130 trillion dollars in assets have pledged to use this capital to meet ‘net zero’ emissions targets in their investments by 2050. This push would make limiting climate change a central focus of many major financial decisions.

But lawmakers are likely to face industry pressure to draft new regulations defining exactly what constitutes a net zero investment.

Success or failure could largely depend on what government regulators come up with, said Simon Stiell, Environment Minister for Grenada, a Caribbean island nation particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. ” I expect there will be a significant lag between those commitments and the point where you have carrots and then you have the stick, ”he said. “This piece is not part of the discussions that took place.”

Beyond that, the consequences of the Glasgow summit for private companies are less clear. In Europe, many companies have already adjusted their business models for the next decade to align with the new European Union laws unveiled last summer ahead of the summit, which include high carbon taxes that are sidelined. ‘apply to a growing range of industries.

Airbus, for example, is developing technology for hydrogen aircraft. The European car industry is stepping up efforts to switch to electric vehicles, although many car manufacturers have not adhered to the Glasgow pledge to gradually eliminate sales of gasoline-powered cars. Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the largest steelmaker outside of China, has announced its goal of reducing the company’s “carbon emissions intensity” in Europe by 35% by 2030. This is in part due to high carbon taxes.

Oil and gas companies, however, are far from retiring from their core businesses, even though it is the burning of fossil fuels that creates the carbon dioxide that warms the world. Executives at these companies say they need their income from fossil fuels to fund investments in alternative energy, especially at a time when oil and gas prices are extremely high. “We’re a cash machine at this type of price,” said Bernard Looney, managing director of BP, on a call with analysts this month.

European and US oil and gas companies could potentially profit from a contentious paragraph in the summit document. He calls for a “phase-out” of coal but says nothing about reducing oil and gas production. As coal declines, producers of liquefied natural gas, a competitor of coal in power generation, are expected to conquer new markets.

A number of the promises made in Glasgow could be a test for a wide range of industries. For example, a landmark agreement to halve deforestation by 2030 would inevitably affect a range of businesses that use products linked to deforestation, like palm oil and wood. “Almost every sector of our economy is part of the crime of deforestation,” said Mindy Lubber, who heads Ceres, a nonprofit that works with businesses and investors to combat their environmental effects.

Some scientists saw the results of the Glasgow summit as a call for further scientific action.

Maisa Rojas, a climate modeler at the University of Chile, said researchers need to better quantify the effects of climate change on vulnerable people and communities. This will help solve an issue which has been one of the most hotly debated in Glasgow – “Loss and damage” or the question of what is due to the people who have hardly contributed to global warming but who are most affected by it.

“We need a systematic understanding and monitoring of what is going on,” said Dr Rojas, director of the university. Climate and Resilience Research Center.

Indeed, one of the most important issues that at-risk countries like Grenada plan to address in the coming months is loss and damage financing. These nations did not win their battle in Glasgow, but only got a commitment from the rich countries to have a “dialogue” on the issue of compensation in the future.

Mr. Stiell argued that simply providing disaster relief, as some countries, including the United States have suggested, is insufficient. Loss and damage financing is also needed for the slow attrition of land from rising sea levels and for agricultural losses from long droughts. “There must be results beyond dialogue,” he said.

Many young activists who demonstrated outside the talks said the pledges did not go far enough to solve an issue they already live with. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a Filipino activist who joined tens of thousands of activists on the streets of Glasgow to rally for “climate justice,” said the result looked like “a stab in the back of those who stand. say leaders ”.

“But the youth climate movement will continue to fight,” she said, “even when we are angry, sad or afraid, because that is all for our generation.”

Liz Alderman, Winston Choi-Schagrin, Henry Fountain and Stanley Reed contributed reporting.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Glasgow climate promises now rest with a handful of powerful leaders
Glasgow climate promises now rest with a handful of powerful leaders
Newsrust - US Top News
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