Good morning from Glasgow: Daniele Pernigotti at the COP26 – The last mile

The last mile of the marathon always has a different taste.

It may seem longer than the previous ones, or the last of the energy left may cause an acceleration, unexpected till moments before.

Today, after a good night’s sleep, we will make eye contact with the negotiators who instead gave up rest for a night of bargaining: we will then try to grasp what the last mile of the Glasgow marathon will feel like.

Will there be any hope to close the COP26 within the agreed time frame (unlikely), or will we wait until Saturday (very likely) or even Sunday (less likely, but still plausible)?

Let’s try to recap what the main issues at stake are:

  • The COP Decision – this is the summary document. Its previous version asked for accelerating the phasing-out of coal and eliminating subsidies to fossil fuels. The moment I’m writing this, the new version hasn’t circulated yet. So… no prediction is possible yet.
  • Finance – some argue that this is the real crucial point of the negotiation: until we don’t close the real raising of the long-promised $100 billion and the promise for their growth in the future, it won’t be possible to reach a deal. However, I believe the problem to be the opposite. Money is an essential part of every agreement. Hence, it is hardly brought to the table if the other significant pieces don’t fit.
  • Article 6 – to say stalemate would be an understatement. According to the latest rumours, after nine days of COP26, many additional amendments to the document have been formulated. However, the real negotiation on the existing text has not started yet (!). It isn’t easy to expect a solution shortly – unless the 7 or 8 parties who matter agree with each other and decide to go to plenary with concrete action, aware of their ability to lead the remaining countries. However, the risk of tripping is high; I fear that Glasgow, alas, will postpone the issue to the next COP in Egypt.
  • Transparency – it is a question of understanding whether the measures proposed by the countries through their renewed NDCs can be effective and credible at the same time. There isn’t the same confrontation on this point. We should probably bet on this document, if we had to choose the one with the smoothest approval in plenary.

All these considerations are valid in the sight of the last mile sign, but the result of the race depends on how we will run this last track. Inevitably, all that was said can still be reshuffled as a deck of cards.

The hope, however, is to be dealt a royal flush because there is too much at stake, and we cannot afford to lose the game.

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