7 de febrero de 2022
THE BITTERSWEET TASTE LEFT BY COP 26
Direct victims of environmental disasters, leaders from more than 197
countries, environmental activists, NGOs, over 40,000 registered participants,
including 22,274 party delegates, 14.124 observers, and 3.886 media representatives,
gathered in Glasgow, in what was considered the most important event on the world
agenda to deal with the phenomenon that is putting humanity in check: Climate
Change. The United Nations International Climate summit held in Scotland, known as
COP 26, was touted as “the best and last hope to save the planet” and would begin on
After thirteen intense days of multiple conversations and negotiations, this
world summit, whose main objective was to agree and accelerate action on the Paris
Agreement, on the one hand, and to establish new climate targets for the coming
years, finally ended on November 12.
Four key points served as a navigation chart to set the focal points of this
agreement: Mitigation (1), Adaptation and Loss of Damage (2), Financing (3), and
For the first time in history, a COP concludes with a concrete agreement on
the gradual reduction of carbon energy by keeping it at 1.5ºC, imposing on countries
the obligation to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5ºC by reducing 45% of
greenhouse gas emissions before 2030 and to reduce them to zero by 2050.
It is true that in the text of the agreement, the temperature increase is maintained
at 1.5ºC, but it is also true that for this to be real, the will of the states is decisive and
plays a transcendental role in avoiding an environmental catastrophe and saving the
planet from the global warming.
For this reason, countries should promote measures aimed at curbing
deforestation(i), reducing methane emissions (ii), and accelerating the switch to
Deforestation has been one of the biggest environmental problems in recent
times, the human species is literally killing the lungs of the planet because actions
such as the extraction of palm oil, land conversion for agriculture, forest fires,
logging, and burning are just some of the causes of this phenomenon to increase day
by day at high speed. The British government in a statement said that forests
disappeared at a rate of 27 soccer fields per minute.
For this reason, COP 26 was the scenario for a new mission. “A hundred leaders
of countries representing 85% of the planet’s forests to commit to halt and reverse
deforestation and land degradation by 2030″, informed the British government.
This agreement, backed by 19 billion dollars in public and private funds,
includes more than 85% of the world’s forests, equivalent to 3.7 billion hectares of
land, including the tropical forests of Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and
As part of the pact, a dozen countries pledged $12 billion in public funding
through 2025, which will go toward landscape restoration activities, fighting forest
fires, and supporting the rights of indigenous forest communities. Additional private
sector commitments of US$7.2 billion and pledges to curb deforestation-related
investment activities are also part of the commitment.
Another major culprit in global warming is a lesser-known but terribly
damaging greenhouse gas used for the purpose of raising the planet’s temperature:
methane. In the words of European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen
around 30% of global warming since the Industrial Revolution is due to methane
emissions, and it is one of the gases we can cut the fastest. Doing so will immediately
slow down climate change.
So, the States joined the initiative to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030,
which is certainly a breakthrough in this regard.
Let us remember that methane is mainly produced by agricultural activity, and
in this sense, not only the good intentions of lowering production by the states are
not enough; for this 30% reduction goal to materialize, there must be a change of
social conscience, cow consumption rates must decrease at all costs.
2.Adaptation and Loss of Damage
One of the major consequences of climate change is the increase in extreme
weather events. According to a report by the World Meteorological Organization
(WMO), in the last 50 years, the number of disasters has increased fivefold, causing
more than 2 million deaths and 3.64 trillion dollars in losses.
In this regard, recognizing that the most vulnerable countries suffer the
greatest climate risks, it was agreed to take measures to minimize the losses and
damages associated with climate change through the Global Adaptation Goal Work
Program to “reduce vulnerability, strengthen resilience and increase the capacity of
people and the planet to adapt to the impacts of climate change” according to which
each country is obliged to formulate a national adaptation plan, through which they
present strategies to increase their capacity to prepare for climate risks; the
exchange of knowledge will be fundamental for this objective to be achieved, and
countries must be willing to share their strategies, based on the principle that climate
change is a shared risk.
Similarly, an Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) was created to enable the
most vulnerable countries to increase their resilience to the effects of climate change
and significant contributions were made to increase support for this adaptation goal,
for example, the European Commission, Belgium, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and
the African Development Bank, which have been identified as the “adaptation
finance champion group”, and are expected to provide $12.7 billion by 2025.
The commitment since the Paris Agreement is that developed countries must
annually finance developing countries. At this COP, 12 governments committed to
deliver $413 million to contribute to climate resilience through the Least Developed
Countries Fund, of which there are 46. In addition, an international coalition of
investors committed to donate more than $1 billion to provide Latin American
countries with fleets of zero-emission electric public buses with the Zero Emission
Bus Rapid Deployment Accelerator (ZEBRA) initiative.
This point is transcendental, and faces the reality of environmental social
justice: developed countries reached that point of development without any limit on
their CO2 emissions, and are directly responsible for the fact that today we talk about
global warming, and now developing countries are in a position of vulnerability as
they suffer more from the effects of climate change, on the one hand; and on the
other hand, they are limited in their emissions and consequently in their
This is part of one of the principles of International Environmental Law
“Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities”, which states that
developed countries have a greater responsibility in protecting the environment, and
in this sense are obliged to finance emerging economies, in the common objectives
of combating climate change, these commitments involve a figure of 100 billion
dollars to be reached by 2023.
The funding commitments come from both the public and private sectors.
Developed countries such as Japan and the UK have made significant funding
pledges, with Japan announcing $11 billion and the UK $1 billion.
The Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) also announced that they will
continue to increase their financing in order to reduce carbon emissions.
Working together is one of the pillars of this agreement in the common goal of
developing clean and sustainable solutions to combat global warming.
Teamwork involves the exchange of scientific knowledge between countries, the
provision of technology, and of course funding.
Were the proposed targets achieved?
The question is not easy to answer, and like the truth, it depends on the angle from
which we look at it; in this case, the answer depends on the sector of the population,
we ask. For the scientific community, activists, NGOs and direct victim populations,
youth, indigenous peoples, among others, the agreements reached are far from
achieving the objective of avoiding global disaster, and the final balance of COP 26 leaves
a bittersweet taste
Youth voiced their dissatisfaction during protests held in Glasgow during Friday
and Saturday’s negotiations. Elizabeth Kité, for example, a youth leader in
Nuku’alofa, Tonga. She said that the agreement didn’t do enough to save her Pacific
island home from being submerged, she also said that the existence of their island
was at stake and it was as if the rich countries were saying. She added that we would
let the islands disappear and we would try to find a solution along the way.”
Sohanur Rahman, founder of the Friday for Future movement (the
international student movement promoted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg) in
Bangladesh, stayed in Glasgow for two weeks in the hope of returning with good
news for the communities most affected. But he leaves feeling powerless and
betrayed. “These empty promises will not protect our people from the crisis”. Edwin
Mumbere, another 29-year-old activist living in Uganda, concluded that no real
solutions had been put in place even though we had proven to them that climate
change was real.
But for other sectors of the population, however, the goals set were fully
met. Especially for the heads of state. Macron, for example, acknowledged that all
states are committed to accelerate the reduction of carbon use for the first time.
This is an encouraging step and that we remain mobilized to succeed in the next
step: a coal phase-out announcement signed by the major emitters and that we will
Despite the multiple perspectives, in general, everyone recognizes that
progress was made, in relation to three fundamental aspects: the gap in targets for
reducing emissions; the gap in rules for compliance and monitoring progress; the gap
In conclusion, we can say that this agreement leaves us with a bittersweet taste
unfortunately, this roadmap, set out in the COP 26 agreement, is part of the
International Environmental Law, a “Soft Law”, that is to say, it is not legally binding
for the parties. That a more committed agreement was expected given the
catastrophic conditions that could result from the increase in temperature.
There was a last-minute change that disappointed the whole world, and it
consisted of a proposal by China, supported by India, to dilute this key commitment.
Changing the expression “progressive elimination” in the document for “progressive
reduction”, is undoubtedly a geopolitical show of force, which left the island and
developing countries with few options. The president of Bolivia in this sense
expressed: “We do not agree, but it is better this than nothing”.
It is worth quoting the words of the president of COP 26 Alok Sharma, who, in
his closing speech, with his voice cracking, and who had to pause to hold back tears,
said: “This is a fragile victory. We have kept the 1.5 alive. That was our main objective
when we embarked on this journey two years ago, taking on the role of the COP chairdesignate.
But still, the pulse of 1.5 is weak.” Recall that Sharma spent the last two years traveling the world and convincing governments of the transcendence of this
moment to alleviate the planet a little, so his frustration was evident at the close of
For now, we must look to the future, with the hope that the next COP to be held in
Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, will overcome the mistakes of COP 26.