Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Can the Paris agreement still avoid climate chaos?

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Laurence Tubiana, France’s top diplomat at the talks, said another key innovation was what she called “360 degree diplomacy.” This means not only working through standard government channels, with ministerial meetings and discussions among officials, but going beyond that, involving businesses, local authorities and city mayors, civil society, academics and citizens in discussions.

“It was a very important part of [the success] from Paris, ”she said. The UK has taken a similar position, with a civil society forum to ensure citizens’ voices are heard, and a Youth Council specially convened to advise the UN Secretary General. UK high profile champion Nigel Topping is also coordinating a ‘race to zero’ in which businesses, cities, states and other subnational governments themselves commit to achieving net zero emissions.

A major outstanding issue before Cop26 is finance. It was essential to involve the developing countries, which have suffered the most from a problem they have hardly caused, in the Paris agreement. The key to this, Fabius said, was the promise of financial aid. The French government had to reassure the poorest countries during negotiations that $ 100 billion per year in financial aid, for poor countries to reduce their emissions and cope with the impacts of the climate crisis, would be ahead . “Money, money, money”, Fabius insisted, were at the heart of the discussions. “If you don’t have that $ 100 billion [the talks will fail]. “

For UK as Cop26 hosts, the question of money is more of a problem since the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, threw his ax on the budget for foreign aid in the recent expenditure review. Although the £ 11billion earmarked for climate aid is earmarked, it has suddenly become more difficult to persuade other developed countries to part with the cash – and to show developing countries that the UK Uni is on their side. Amber Rudd, the former UK Minister for Energy and Climate who represented the UK at the Paris talks, said: “A country that understands the seriousness of Cop26 would not cut back on international aid just yet . “

Alok Sharma, President of Cop26 and UK Secretary for Affairs, will draw on his experience as the former UK Minister for International Development to meet the expectations of developing countries. He said: “I totally agree that it is very important to make sure that we have the funding for action on climate change. This is why we have protected international climate finance. I think people understand that we are in a difficult economic situation. We said that when the economy recovers, we will seek to restore [overseas aid as 0.7 percent of GDP]. I think when it comes to climate change we are doing our best. “

Boris Johnson hopes to iron out these delicate issues when he chairs, alongside the French government and the UN, a virtual meeting of world leaders on December 12, the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement. At least 70 world leaders are expected to attend, and they will be pushed to present new NDCs and other political commitments, as a starting point towards the Cop26 summit.

Johnson kicked off preparations for the December 4 meeting by announcing UK NDC, forecasting a 68 percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. This would put the UK ahead of other developed economies, cutting emissions further and faster than any G20 country. ‘is still committed to doing so.

Critics have pointed out, however, that the UK is not on track to meet its own current climate targets, for 2023. Much more detailed policy measures are likely to be needed, some of them involving major changes and economic losers as well as winners, before the path to net zero is cleared.

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