COP did not agree to cut emissions faster. This wasn’t unexpected as we went into the talks, but it’s still very disappointing. They repeated last year’s agreement that the world needs to cut emissions by 43% 2019-2030. That would give us an even chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, and it’s good that it didn’t get watered down. But we’re no closer to being on track than we were. Currently, if every government miraculously deliver everything in the plans they've published, that will take us to around 2.5C of warming, meaning more floods, storms, droughts, and food and water insecurity: a devastating sentence for the world, but especially for the most vulnerable.
There was a long argument about whether to agree that the world needs to phase out fossil fuels, and in the end that didn’t make it into the final conference statement. There was too much pressure from fossil fuel producing countries for that - it’s hard to get agreement from nearly 200 countries, even for something as vital and obvious as this. The host country being a gas producer keen to sell more to replace the gas Europe isn’t buying from Russia didn’t help, and nor did the 600 fossil fuel company lobbyists at the conference, but this is a big issue at every COP.
There is a mitigation work programme which is due to report back in 2026 - this date is a compromise between countries that want to move fast enough to keep hopes of staying at 1.5 alive, and countries that want to move slowly so their fossil fuel industries keep thriving a bit longer. Let’s pray global emissions start falling long before then.
"Emissions peaking before 2025 ... not in this text; clear follow-through on phase down of coal, not in this text. And the energy text weakened in the final minutes," said Alok Sharma, the outgoing President of COP, adding "I promise you if we do not step up soon and rise above the minute to midnight battles to hold the line [on 1.5°] we will all be found wanting.”
Not much to say
There wasn’t much progress on the vital issue of adaptation, just a repeat of the promise of more funding after 2026. This is a real missed opportunity from a COP in Africa.
There wasn’t much agreed on biodiversity and nature ahead of the Convention on Biodiversity COP in December in Canada.
Agreeing the rules for international carbon trading is one of the most complicated parts of COP, and this COP made it a little more complicated still - they added some potential loopholes. Negotiations will continue next year.
We were calling for more rights for climate refugees, and COP had little to say on this. It’s a controversial issue but very important and growing, and we’ll have to decide whether and how to go bigger on it.
COP also had little new to say on the rights of indigenous people or on gender justice, both of which need to be built in to most of the things COP touches.
A success last year was the Glasgow Pledge to End Fossil Fuel Finance - several countries signed up not to fund any fossil fuel projects in other countries. Japan, previously a big funder of coal around the Pacific, joined earlier this year, and Guatemala and Nepal joined at COP, so 41 countries have now signed.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Initiative of countries agreeing to phase out fossil fuels added some new members - Portugal and Washington State in the US joined Denmark, Costa Rica, France, Greenland, Ireland, Quebec state in Canada, Sweden, and Wales in the UK. Chile and Kenya joined as ‘Friends of BOGA’ at a lower level of commitment. This is a great initiative but still quite small for now.
Tuvalu was the first country to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
That’s about it. For a slightly longer analysis, have a look at Climate Home News’s and for a really detailed version, try Carbon Brief