What is the outcome for COP26? The 196 countries gathered for two weeks in Glasgow (Scotland) agreed, Saturday, November 13, on a series of final declarations to accelerate the fight against global warming. The conference was also marked by several thematic agreements, on deforestation or methane.
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To analyze the progress and blockages of this new climate summit, franceinfo interviewed Sandrine Maljean-Dubois, CNRS research director within the Center for International and Community Studies and Research (Ceric), an experienced observer of the climate process.
Franceinfo: what do you remember from this COP26?
Sandrine Maljean-Dubois : What seems major to me, compared to other COPs, is that the leaders of the planet have started to discuss concrete things, such as the end of fossil fuels [pétrole, charbon, gaz, premières sources de gaz à effet de serre]. This can to appear crazy, but this is the first time that there has been these discussions until the final declaration. The formula adopted is much more indented than in the first versions of the text, it has been unraveled a bit, but the subject is on the table.
Before this summit, you explained that you would be very attentive to the ambitions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which are currently insufficient. What is your assessment on this point?
The result is more positive than I imagined. The process is playing its part, it is certainly not enough, but it is better. Before COP21, our commitments led us to 4.5 ° C, at the same time as COP21, it was 3.5 ° C. Before COP26, we were at 2.7 ° C. We have to wait to see the evaluations but if we end up at 2.2 ° C or 1.8 ° C [Le chiffre cité par l’Agence internationale de l’énergie], it will be progress. Especially since in the decision, there is the idea that the countries retransmit a national contribution [l’outil par lequel un Etat annonce ses réductions d’émissions] modified, more ambitious, from next year.
After that, there remains the problem of artwork. That strong commitments are already made is a first requirement, the second is implementation. From this point of view, we are not there, even if during this COP, we began to discuss the end of fossil fuels.
During this COP, many parallel agreements, outside the traditional process, were announced, such as on methane or deforestation. What is their value?
We could read them as political commitments not really binding and not controlled, which is the case. But ultimately, I find that it instilled ambition in the entire COP, so it’s positive. The final decision reflects this, for example for methane. They made it possible to enter into energy choices, to make the process more concrete. There is no control, but States must be accountable to their public opinion, this locks things in place.
What are the problematic points of this COP26?
I have not yet seen the decision on article 6, on carbon markets, which can potentially pose a problem. For the rest, I rather have the impression that it is a balanced package, which progresses on all the subjects. No one is happy, but it’s a good sign, it means that we have reached a compromise. Regarding funding, however, this is not satisfactory for the countries of the South, but discussions will continue.
Many countries and NGOs regret the loss and damage decision. Can you explain this point?
This subject comes back from COP to COP and becomes a difficult point. Mitigation is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation is the measures to adapt to climate change. Loss and damage is presented as another component, although it can be seen as part of adaptation.
It is part of a desire of the island states of the Pacific, who wanted a kind of window that allows for emergency and long-term aid, in relation to all the slow climatic consequences such as rising sea levels. The countries of the North resisted, resisted and finally, it entered the texts in 2010. The more climate change becomes a reality, the more the question rises. There, there was the insertion in the texts of the mention of “facility”, of a financial mechanism, then this was replaced by a “dialogue”. Obviously, for the countries of the South, it is not the same thing: the subject is still postponed.
Many media have presented this COP as “the last chance”. Do you share this vision of things?
I think it’s dangerous. We have been repeating this since Copenhagen in 2009, so it is a bit counterproductive. It was not the “faint hope” COP, but there were high expectations.
A new COP will be organized in 2022. What will be the stakes?
With this Glasgow COP, the manual for the Paris Agreement will be complete. What will the process now be used for? To see if the States keep their commitments, thanks to the framework of transparency and to continue to push for the raising of the ambition. This will be the menu for the next COP, then those after.