Glasgow: Success As Avoiding Despair

At the Glasgow climate summit, history was made with explicit reference to phasing down coal. Host nation Britain delivered on three of its four goals — keeping the goal of containing warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels alive, even if barely, increasing focus on adaptation and resilience, and completing the Rulebook to implement the Paris Accord.

It failed to ensure delivery on the 2009 promise of $100 billion annually as climate finance for developing countries. COP26 also failed to seek negative emissions from the rich world, so as to increase the carbon budget for developing nations. Still, COP26 can be called a success, even if it does not live up to the expectations of the climate warriors protesting outside the summit in their milling thousands.

The watchword now is action, and the further action nations will come up with in a year’s time. Current pledges put the world on track to a 2.4°C temperature rise. Going beyond the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to submit long-term strategies in line with 1.5°C. Imbalance among issues persists: timelines and political and technical focus on emission reduction are not matched with measures for financing the requirements to achieve the goals.

Adaption received greater attention — with the Adaptation Fund setting a record with pledges for $356 million, though more is required. Rich countries refused to set up a ‘facility’ for loss and damage. Developing countries must focus on support and holding rich countries to account on their commitments.

For India, COP26 was a mixed bag. It started off strong with ambitious 2030 targets that would set it on a course to net-zero well ahead of Modi’s ‘by 2070’ target. Subsequently, India reached out to developing countries — support for Africa’s call for $1 trillion a year in climate finance starting 2025, leveraging Isro’s satellite capabilities to improve resilience of infrastructure in small island states. It also lent support for global transition with the launch on the ‘One Sun, One World, One Grid’ programme under the International Solar Alliance (ISA).


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