Credit: Lucy Dunn

The COP26 draft deal is published… is it too little too late?

By Lucy Dunn

This morning, the draft deal for COP26 was published. What’s been put forward so far?

To date, approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius of heating has occurred, thanks to the actions of humanity. Though the figure sounds small, regional climate changes have been felt across the world, on a scale that is definitely not proportionate. Inside of COP26, world leaders, delegates and businesspeople are working on a corporate level to mitigate the effects of the climate disaster. Outside, protestors and climate activists from across the world are raising their voices louder in argument against the COP negotiations that they feel are simply not enough.

Both are approaching the issue in completely different ways and, some argue, with entirely contrasting attitudes. Whilst money appears to drive the talks inside of COP26, appeals to human empathy, with stark – and depressing – warnings for the future of the planet, are heard on the outside. Greta Thunberg described COP26 as already being a “failure”, only five days in to the proceedings. However, optimism has been expressed by a number of politicians in the OVO Hydro building, including Nancy Pelosi, who praised the US delegates alongside Joe Biden and John Kerry yesterday. The overarching question remains, however: will COP26 make the difference we need?

“Greta Thunberg described COP26 as already being a “failure”, only five days in to the proceedings.”

The draft announcement covers a number of points that have been dredged up during the conference, specifically the lack of finance that has been mobilised for developing countries that need an extra hand with helping to cut emissions and reduce their carbon footprint. The draft deal “emphasises the need for finance from all sources to be mobilised to the level needed to achieve the objective of the Convention, including significantly enhanced support for developing country Parties beyond the $100bn per year climate finance mobilisation goal”. The recipient developing countries were supposed to receive this sum by 2020, however as of yet have not. The draft also “notes with regret that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilise jointly $100bn per year by 2020 has not yet been met”… it’s all very well noting “with regret” and pledging to give more, but what the deal appears to lack is structure on this count.

Another main feature of the draft deal includes the submission of more ambitious “carbon-cutting” plans. The draft deal restates a lot of the information already widely known, in its reaffirming of “the long-term global goal to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”, and recognising “the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared to two degrees Celsius”, both of which hardly need re-emphasised at this point. The draft discusses the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030, and for the need to reach “net zero” by 2050.

“The draft deal includes the submission of more ambitious “carbon-cutting” plans.”

Whilst the deal also emphasises the need to reduce other, non-carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases, as well as calling for the acceleration of phasing out of coal and fossil fuels, it again lacks any clear guidance on how this will be achieved, and by when. Where clauses are overpopulated with words, they lack substance. Practical solutions have no doubt been discussed on some level, but the draft’s “emphasising” and “recognising” and “reaffirming” feels performative. Technically, it’s hitting the nail on the head about where the issues lie, on a superficial level, but there doesn’t appear to be much depth to the new aims.

“Where clauses are overpopulated with words, they lack substance.”

There is also a lot missing from the draft deal, including the reporting of the progress that the different countries have made as we move forward in the fight against the climate crisis. The Glasgow Guardian was informed by a source inside COP26 last night that developing countries “want more flexibility on the reporting of data”, which is perhaps holding some decisions up. On top of that, The Glasgow Guardian also heard that tensions between the US and China were placing strain on the decision-making process, with the EU wanting to build bridges rather than pick sides. The talk of “everybody playing their part” appears more bark than bite when there still feels a certain level of one-upping going on.

With predictions of global warming of between 2.4-2.7 degrees Celsius if current conference proposals are to be put in place, the COP26 draft measures lack the urgency that has been so apparent at the conference itself. The measures aren’t extreme enough: for an emergency so catastrophic, we, especially as developed countries, need to feel the hit harder. We can’t expect our lifestyles to barely change whilst other parts of the world sink further underwater, or face devastating forest fires. There has been so much talk of “youth” at this conference, and yet looking at the draft deal, it feels as though the underlying, background thought is that the youth can be the ones who do the dirty work when the time comes. Too little, too late, the draft deal looks; but let’s hope, with the national and international backlash, over the next few days more will be achieved.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments