Here is the summary of the fifth day of the World Leaders Summit in Glasgow on November 5, 2021:
The story so far:
India’s 2070 net-zero pledge (which might be roughly in line with 1.5°C-2°C but details are lacking – see Climate Action Tracker analysis here) plus methane, forest and some of the ‘coal is history’ deals landed well, as did Thursday’s $18 billion nixing of fossil fuel export finance. The star? Probably Barbados PM Mia Mottely and her speech on Monday highlighting the need to address climate finance to reach the 1.5°C goal.
Last night, former UN climate boss Christiana Figueres endorsed a 60+ strong group of countries pushing for a deal next week that could see a new tranche of climate plans by 2023. “Now we need to bring the future into the present – faster… reporting annually is a brilliant proposal to convert pledges into delivery, building trust and discouraging empty words,” she said.
Lingering anger over restrictions on observer access at COP26 persist, so expect disruptions through Friday and Saturday, when hundreds of thousands take to the streets globally. In Glasgow, the protests are set to include a wide range of communities, including striking unions, agricultural workers and schoolchildren. Today’s march will culminate in a speech by Greta Thunberg calling out the ‘greenwash and empty words of leaders at COP.’
A report due out on Friday by London-based consultants Systemiq argues the investment case for carbon-heavy infrastructure is rapidly collapsing, with all major sectors rolling out cheaper or cost-competitive green solutions within a decade. They predict rapid change through the 2020s, with the potential for low carbon to dominate by the 2040s.
Message to the world bank:
“Tragically, too many [Multilateral Development Banks] are under-delivering on climate action,” said UN climate envoy Selwin Hart late on Thursday in an unexpected criticism aimed at big development banks. He called on capitals in London, DC, Paris and Berlin to step in “and urgently change the direction of travel of these institutions.”
IEA boss Fatih Birol tweeted a 1.8°C prediction yesterday, calling the range of plans “a landmark moment.” However, according to the IEA itself, as of October 2021, we were only on track to cut energy-related emissions by 40 percent in 2050, far off global net zero. Policy frameworks remain insufficient to deliver the level of implementation required. Investment in clean energy technologies needs to triple just to keep on track to global net zero by 2050.
13.7 percent rise in emissions:
The UN’s latest assessment of climate plans were quietly uploaded on 4 November with no fanfare. They offer a sobering view of the 14 new plans lodged since last month, saying pre-Glasgow pledges will result in a 13.7 percent rise in emissions by 2030 (on 2010 levels), by which time we need to halve them. While 1.8°C is positive, if pledges are not immediately followed by policies, they don’t mean much. The average annual emission cuts needed for staying below 1.5°C are now four times greater than they would have been if collective mitigation and ambition started in 2010, according to UNEP.
Take of the day: Mohamed Adow
“COP26 is in danger of drowning the UNFCCC in an announcement blitz. These announcements may generate headlines but assessing their true worth is hugely difficult, especially at speed during a COP meeting. They are eye candy but the sugar rush they provide are empty calories.”
*Solar is now ‘cheapest electricity in history’, confirms IEA
*Fossil fuel use ‘will peak by 2025’ if countries meet climate pledges
*Russia’s energy strategy “almost exclusively focused on fossil fuels”
Where’s Germany and France:
Thursday’s big news was a 20+ country-strong commitment to end international oil, gas and coal finance by the end of 2022. The decision by the UK, US, Canada, Italy, EIB, EADB and New Zealand among others could see $18+ billion/year shifted towards clean energy. France and Germany were notable absences.
Gas filling in the space left by coal:
The biggest growth source of emissions according to a new report by Climate Analytics is natural gas – up 42 percent in the decade 2010 to 2019. Looking ahead to 2030, gas will be responsible for 70 percent of the projected increase in fossil CO2 emissions – and 60 percent of the methane – under current policies to 2030.
Stocktaking the talks:
Envoys and media can expect little respite over the weekend, but a note sent late on Thursday reveals Alok Sharma is hauling negotiators in for an “informal stocktaking plenary” on Saturday evening, where he intends to assess progress so far and thrash out plans for next week. This is where we’ll get a sense of how the talks are landing and where major coalitions sit as we head into the really high stakes talks in week two. Who wants what at the talks, via Carbon Brief, is worth a read.
Those inside the halls say talks are losing energy as red lines harden. As one veteran said: “It’s almost too calm.” Key briefs to be resolved include: 1/CP.26, where the ‘Glasgow Pact’ will land, Article 6, transparency, loss & damage and finance. Sharma noted it’s “not possible” for a large number of unresolved issues to go into week two.
First votes on Build Back Better:
Votes in the US House of Representatives on Build Back Better and Infrastructure are expected overnight. This vote is not a decider, merely a step towards a grand showdown in the Senate between Joe Manchin and his Democrat colleagues. At stake? The biggest US clean energy package, ever.
As Biden returned to shepherd through his infrastructure legislation, the US is hoping to keep up their soft power presence in the talks by bringing in former President Barack Obama, who signed the Paris Agreement on behalf of the US. He plans to talk about what more kids can do to push for action.