“It may have been a disappointment, but we have not yet been defeated.”
While the Glasgow Climate Pact was, on the whole, a letdown, it does have some redeeming features. Below are some examples:
The Pact recognized “the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including in forests, the ocean, and the cryosphere, and the protection of biodiversity, recognized by some cultures as Mother Earth, and also noting the importance for some of the concept of ‘climate justice’, when taking action to address climate change.”
It also highlighted the interlinked global crises of climate change and biodiversity loss as well as the critical role of protecting, conserving, and restoring nature and ecosystems in delivering benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards.
The Glasgow Climate Pact acknowledged “the devastating impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the importance of ensuring a sustainable, resilient and inclusive global recovery, showing solidarity particularly with developing country Parties.”
A very important principle from the Paris Agreement is affirmed in the Glasgow Climate Pact: Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.
Likewise, as it did in the Paris Agreement, governments highlighted the important role of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society, including youth and children, in addressing and responding to climate change. It also underscored the urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action,
In the Glasgow Climate Pact, governments expressed alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1 °C of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region. They reaffirmed, as stated in the Paris Agreement, the long-term global goal to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. While repeating what was agreed in Paris, governments also recognized its insufficiency by stressing that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C, resolving to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
To achieve this, they recognized that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases. This is an advance from Paris when we tried to convince our negotiating partners to recognize 1.5 as the upper limit. They agreed to the concession of making 1.5 as an aspirational goal. In Glasgow, we finally won this fight but we lost five years of implementation.
Climate finance was probably the biggest issue in Glasgow. Among others, the Pact “notes with deep regret that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation has not yet been met”. It then urges such rich countries “to fully deliver on the USD 100 billion goal urgently and through to 2025, and emphasizes the importance of transparency in the implementation of their pledges”.
Loss and damage was another big issue in Glasgow. Governments acknowledged the urgency of scaling up action and support, including finance, technology transfer and capacity-building, for implementing approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change in developing countries. The Pact calls for enhanced and additional support for activities addressing loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change. It also resolved to strengthen partnerships between developing and developed countries, funds, technical agencies, civil society and communities to enhance understanding of how approaches to averting, minimizing, and addressing loss and damage can be improved.
Finally, the Glasgow Climate Pact promises to ensure meaningful youth participation and representation in multilateral, national and local decision-making processes, including under the Climate Convention and the Paris Agreement, including the organization of an annual youth-led climate forum for dialogue between Parties and youth. Similarly, the role of indigenous peoples and women are also recognized in the Pact.
The roller coaster that was Glasgow reminds of what I have written before as five adages in negotiations: (1) The enemy of the good is the perfect; (2) The journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step – in the right direction; (3) The same journey begins from where you are, thus know where you came from; (4) Tomorrow is another day, so never give up; (5) Wake up early, watch the breaking of dawn, and pray. I would add a sixth: Small victories matter if they bring us nearer to the tipping point of finally winning against the climate challenge.
Glasgow may have been a disappointment, but we have not been defeated. Not yet anyway.
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