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“No more delays” — Developing countries urge for real climate action before crucial summit

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Developing countries have laid out their demands ahead of the key climate change summit COP26 in November in the United Kingdom – asking rich countries to move much faster to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as well as providing financial assistance to poor nations to cope with the growing climate crisis. 

Climate activists stage a protest at a recent G7 summit. Credit: Oxfam

COP26 will be the most important meeting on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. During the first two weeks of November, delegates from all countries in the world will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, to discuss ways to further increase climate action and ensure that we avoid catastrophic climate damage. 

Highlighting a “worrying lack of urgency” from the recent G7 and G20 summits, more than 100 developing countries’ governments said the COP26 talks need to deliver help to communities already impacted by climate-driven extreme weather. As the effects of the climate crisis get more visible, delegates are under pressure to act much faster. 

The to-do list for COP26 is long and complex. Governments have to finalize the rulebook on how the Paris Agreement will be implemented, as well as make good on a 2009 promise to give vulnerable nations $100 billion per year to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate impacts. Climate finance reached $78 billion in 2018, according to a OECD report

“Despite Covid understandably taking the headlines, climate change has been getting worse over the past year as emissions continue to rise and the lives and livelihoods on the frontline suffer,” Sonam P Wangdi of Bhutan, the chair of the least developed countries (LDC) group, said in a statement. “Richer countries, who have caused this problem, have to take responsibility.”

Richer countries have an added responsibility because they became richer in large part by burning fossil fuel — and at the same time, less developed countries are suffering the brunt of climate damage.

Demands for COP26

The LDC group published a list of demands ahead of COP26. They are calling for developed countries to strengthen the plans for cutting their emissions this decade, provide $100 billion a year in climate finance, help countries adapt to an extreme climate, bring the Paris Agreement into full effect and contribute to loss and damage to poor countries from the impacts of climate change. 

The five points are actually quite similar to the aims set out by the United Kingdom for COP26, including strengthening targets on emissions cuts. Nevertheless, the developing countries are frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations. With only three months before the start of the climate summit, they want to raise the alarm and avoid another toothless summit, as has been the case in previous years. 

A COP26 spokesperson told The Guardian that the list of demands “aligns closely” with the “ambitious goals” set up for the climate summit. The COP26 President “has been pressing” on these issues in regular conversations with leaders and decision-makers, bringing countries together to “resolve the differences and set the direction for a shared future, the spokesperson said. 

In the report, the countries asked for a “fair share accounting” of greenhouse gas emissions, claiming countries should make cuts based on historical responsibility and the capacity to act. Under that scenario, for example, the US would need to reduce emissions by 195% by 2030. This could be made up of a 70% cut in domestic emissions plus $80 billion a year in support for developing countries.

“Developed countries are currently not pulling their weight or keeping their promises on their obligations to provide climate finance. Like any negotiation, you need to have faith that pledges and commitments will be met. In 2009 and 2015, they promised to deliver climate finance by 2020. Yet this is still to be met, “Tanguy Gahouma-Bekale of Gabon, the chair of the Africa group of negotiators, said in a statement.

Greenhouse gas emissions must fall more than 7% every year by 2030 in order to keep the 1.5ºC Paris temperature goal in reach, according to United Nations estimates. While the Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions saw emissions plunge in 2020, concentrations of planet-warming CO2 continue to climb ever higher – with no end in sight. 


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