“The good COP and the bad COP” does not represent the classic role-playing between two policemen called upon to manage a tough interrogation.
It is instead the effective description that Saleemul Huq makes of the outcome of the COP26 in Glasgow. Salemuul is not exactly a novice in climate change and of the negotiation within the UNFCCC. Beyond taking part in every COP, he is a renowned scientist from Bangladesh. He contributed to drawing up the IPCC reports and has been the director of ICCCAD, the International Centre for Climate Change and Development.
Why, though, does Saleemul see a good and a bad COP?
In his view, the bad one is represented by the crowd of negotiators that, called on to save our future, are more and more moving between exclusive, complex mechanisms and the necessity to defend the interests of the country they represent. The result is progress, even though in the right direction, that is too slow to contain the climate shift that, by definition, all the Parties make an effort to tackle.
After all, a scientist that comes from one of the poorest countries – and most affected by climate change – in the world can only see the usual half-full glass from its empty side: the outcome of the COP is still not able to stop the increasingly dramatic situation that will keep afflicting his country and his people.
In this direction, we must see the progressive watering down of the request in the COP’s Decision to accelerate the phase-out of carbon in energy production. Firstly, in the second draft of the Decision, the choice to limit the initial request to the sole unabated coal leaves the door open for its use in combination with the CCS system, still theoretical and ineffective. Then, India’s final move: asking to shift from the phase-out to the phase-down of coal. Besides bringing withheld tears to COP26 President Alok Sharma, it represents a sentence for Saleemul and Bangladesh.
Something similar happened with the call to accelerate the elimination of funding to fossil fuels, a real drag to the mass diffusion of renewable sources. The last version of the Decision leaves the adjective “inefficient”, leaving room for interpretation of the terms for years to come and emptying a glass that would have been full this time.
Another critical issue is not having completed the economic aid package of $100 billion per year between 2020 and 2025 for the poorest countries established in Paris in 2015. Now, the coverage is around 80% – even though some progress has been made in Glasgow. For instance, Italy, which was historically stuck on the supply of $460 million a year, raised its commitment to $1,4 billion. However, it is expected that a round table will start working on this already in the next COP to define post-2025 aid. The serious climate situation involves indeed the necessity to provide more financial help to developing countries.
Saleemul doesn’t question the very existence of the COP because there is a positive side as opposed to the slowly moving negative one: it is made by those who take part in the COP without being directly involved in the negotiation. These are the representatives of indigenous people, scientists, youngsters, women, NGOs, companies, and other involved stakeholders actively acting against climate change. The “non-party stakeholders” find in the COP the opportunity to share their most advanced experiences ad quickly spread best practices.
The Glasgow Climate Pact is the framework of the commitments undertaken at COP26 and is the basis for those who will further be discussed starting from the next COP27. Also, 2022 will symbolize the 30th anniversary of the UNFCCC in Rio de Janeiro. Too many years, not to eventually overcome the logic of indecision and balances.