COP26 ends with The Glasgow Climate Pact
Reflection by Andreas Gyllenhammar – Chief Sustainability Officer at Sweco
Late last Saturday evening, one day after the appointed time, the COP26 chairman managed to steer the countries to an agreement.
But it certainly had its price.
New for this year’s conference was that everyone could follow the intensive final negotiation attempts via the UN live broadcast. It was jaw dropping witnessing the United States, China, India, the EU, AOSIS, G77 and others hurrying back and forth between each other, pointing at different pieces of text and gesturing over what was not acceptable.
As a direct result, an amendment had to be passed by the others. Great compromises are being made in this late phase, especially the developing countries and the small island nations where climate consequences are catastrophic far earlier than for countries that can afford and / or can adapt, at least for a while longer.
For many, this is not the type of negotiation you can “win” if we do not all succeed in winning. That attitude was obviously not shared by India, which threw in an absolute last-minute change and managed to weaken the writing about coal power and to change the wording from “phase out” to “phase down”.
Many countries expressed their great disappointment over this and pointed out the unfairness of the decision process. But they were not prepared to overturn the whole agreement for it, even if they were clearly and genuinely offended. This was addressed by COP President Alok Sharma, who sincerely and with a cracked voice and watering eyes apologized to these countries.
With this, the last obstacle was removed and “The Glasgow Climate Pact” was passed through. Exactly what the final version states and how it can be interpreted, I will return to in a future post.
A direct reflection is that this is about as far as it goes in a process that is designed for consensus and is as complex and pervasive as the climate crisis is. It’s certainly not enough to keep the world at 1.5 degrees warming but there are some bright spots.
The temperature curve is bent downwards, not least thanks to all the voluntary initiatives that are being concluded here, and the signal from Glasgow regarding the future of coal is still clear, no matter how much India wants to change it. Coal has no future.
Andreas Gyllenhammar – Chief Sustainability Officer at Sweco