The climate talks in Glasgow closed on Saturday night after a last-minute drama that led to further frustration. “I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart,” declared the conference’s president and British MP, Aluk Sharma. After two weeks of negotiations and much criticism of softened agreement formulas, at the last minute and without an orderly discussion, India’s demand for a further dimming of a significant clause in the agreement was accepted.
Sharma knew that he would no longer finish this conference as a winner, and that he was among the engineers of failure. “I understand the deep disappointment,” he said before closing the conference that was crowned “fateful” for the future of humanity, and ended in severe disappointment for many.
196 countries have concluded negotiations whose main purpose was to reach broad agreements on ways to mitigate global warming. The international agreement signed on the subject – the Paris Agreement – is a voluntary agreement, and therefore no country can be forced to take steps to reduce emissions.
This is how the leaders ‘until white smoke came out’ sat down to reach agreements that all countries are willing to abide by – even those that actually make a living from the fossil fuel industry and that in order to stem the climate crisis, will have to be greatly reduced. Finally, according to the leaders themselves, the agreement “leaves the aspiration to avoid warming more than a half and a half alive,” but the reality itself is made up of it, and is full of vague wording and small print that makes the weekend leaders’ leaders humane.
The main goal – to limit the rise in temperature by up to one and a half to the end of the century, was not achieved, and decisions on the subject were postponed to next year. Despite the promises and beautiful words at the beginning of the conference, no large country has aligned itself with the same goal, with the targets set for 2030 particularly low and not reaching the required goal: a reduction of almost half of emissions by the end of the decade.
The commitments of the countries at the end of the conference put humanity on a 2.5-degree warming trajectory, if fully met according to UN estimates. Humanity is dealing with the more severe effects of the climate crisis.For millions of humans and animals around the world, such a sharp rise in temperature means a particularly cruel fate.
Why is every fraction of an up important? With a warming of one and a half degrees, about 14% of the world’s population will be exposed to severe heat waves at least once every five years. With a warming of two degrees, this is 37% of the world population. This is just one example, when all of humanity’s life support systems will be affected by rising temperatures.
Droughts will increase, sea levels will rise, health risks will increase. The World Health Organization warns of the consequences of the climate crisis, which is already unavoidable, and predicts that 700 million people will be displaced by 2030 alone.
“The chance that we will reduce global emissions by half to the end of the decade does not exist when China declares that it will increase emissions by then and only then will it begin to reduce them,” says Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University and IPCC Scientist. “India is no better in this respect. The situation is similar to a cartoon in which the masses toil to plug holes in a leaking bucket, with the men in the group drilling new large holes.”
In the absence of leadership the decision is rejected
Finally, it was decided that next year, the countries, and especially the major emitters, would be forced to return with more ambitious plans for the climate conference to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh. This is a difficult task, but it is again a sign of a permanent symptom in the absence of leadership in the climate arena: postponing the time of solving the problems. With all the cards and information on the table over the past few years, world leaders have allowed themselves to fail around the Glasgow negotiating table, again postponing decisions for next year.
According to UN scientists, humanity has 8 years to cut carbon emissions by 45% and store them until the middle of the century, to avoid the most severe consequences of the climate crisis. , Accelerated mass of ice and rapid sea level rise.
Extreme events that we already feel today in almost every corner of the globe will become more frequent, powerful and prolonged. While the leaders in Glasgow spoke of “beautiful progress” the climatic systems are indifferent to words, and progress according to the rules of physics, away from the negotiating table. There, politicians are measured by absolute actions, rather than by little progress made too slowly, too late, and especially in statements.
Even countries with low incomes and capacity are left without a satisfactory solution. The $ 100 billion promised a year to countries whose contribution to the climate crisis is the smallest but are the first to suffer its conversion results – will not be delivered before 2023, even though they were promised a decade ago as a sure target for 2020.
These countries are already required to deal with an average global temperature rise of 1.1 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era, and with unprecedented damage. But in the losses and damages fund set up to help the most vulnerable countries and compensate for heat waves, floods and droughts that hit the weakest, there is only $ 2 million – a paltry sum.
Winding words will not bring change
The specific achievements of the politicians in the agreement also left a sharp taste of missing out. The Glasgow Conference’s final statement left a wide opening for interpretation at all costs: “Countries will gradually reduce coal use,” and will not stop, due to last-minute pressure from India, which left the ambitious wording out of reach.
And as for the subsidies that countries give to polluting industries? Following pressure from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and other countries, the softened wording submitted to the public is: “The countries will make efforts to gradually phase out ineffective fossil fuel subsidies.” What are “inefficient subsidies”? Will determine each country on its own.
Just to clear the ear – the investment of G20 countries and international banks in the development of fossil fuels in the last three years has been two and a half times more than the amount spent on the development of renewable energies. Under the convoluted words of the new climate agreement, it is doubtful whether we will see any change on the ground.
A show by lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry
While outside the conference there were continuous demonstrations over two weeks, in its territory the stakeholders worked hard. More than 20 countries have issued entry permits as part of their mission to the gas, oil and coal industry lobbyists, thus making representatives of the industry the conference was to challenge – the largest delegation at the conference, more than any country around the globe. More than 500 fossil industry lobbyists have fought for ‘business as usual’ for their industry, facing politicians who often receive generous donations.
For example, just before the conference opened, it was revealed that members of the British Conservative Party – led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson – had received donations of £ 1.3 million since 2019 from stakeholders in the fossil fuel industry and climate suppliers.
After Johnson finished his moving speech at the opening of the conference and even ‘stole’ Greta Tonberg’s words in his request to the leaders to avoid a climatic catastrophe and not settle for ‘blah, blah, blah’, he hurried to catch a private flight back to London, just 4 hours by train, to Have dinner at a closed men’s club with a former editor of the Daily Telegraph, who in turn denied the climate crisis.
At the end of the conference, despite the disappointment, domestic pressure in the various countries will not stop – and may even motivate bottom-up processes and force politicians into action. “The conference ended with the efforts of tens of thousands of people evaporating and the hope of millions fading. The truth? A sense of depression,” concludes Shira Liberty, director of climate at the Society for the Protection of Nature, who attended the conference. “Now we need to take a deep breath and return to reality. The people who created the crisis will probably not be the ones to fix it. The responsibility is on us.”