Commitment and success in the balance

‘The UN’s COP26 in Glasgow needs to see a real improvement in the climate plans submitted by individual states', says Murad Qureshi

Thursday, 4th November 2021 — By Murad Qureshi

Murad Qureshi

Murad Qureshi 

WITH flash floods in London partially caused by intense rains not seen before, and likely to increase in the future on the basis of Intergovern-mental Panel on Climate Change research reports, some will be asking how can all the discussion on climate change at the COP26 in Glasgow help.

Now you’ll be forgiven for thinking everybody was going to Glasgow, well almost everyone, and it must feel like Manhattan during a UN General Assembly when all the world leaders head for New York annually.

But it is worth remembering that there are two COPs, the official one and the fringe.

The official one has delegates from all the Conference of the Parties (COP) with almost 200 countries registered with the UN Convention on Climate Change, while the fringe has a host of companies, cities and regions and NGOs from both here and from all over the world, all working towards net-zero by 2050.

It is worth asking what needs to happen for a successful COP26 in Glasgow. In this respect, we will not only need to raise the ambitions of the national climate plans, NCPs, but support the climate-vulnerable developing countries and advance the Paris rule book.

That means all the countries updating or submitting their new NCPs that collectively keep limited warming down to around 1.5°C within reach; but it is very clearly not the case right now.

At present all the total of all the announced NCPs submitted do not equal 45 per cent reduction by 2030 and net-zero by 2050.

It is more like a 16 per cent increase in gas emissions and thus an actual temperature rise of more like 2.6°C rather than the maximum of 2°C aiming for 1.5°C in the Paris accord.

So we need to see a very real improvement in the NCPs submitted, particularly from the big polluters. And historically big ones are in the developed world.

No country escapes the climate crisis but those emitting the least are the most affected. That is why we will need to deliver the $100billion annually to the developing world as promised in Paris.

It has become an issue of trust. So it is disappointing to hear that this will not yet be satisfied but will take another three years from all the last-minute negotiations.

This issue will run and run and there is no doubt even more climate finance will be required for the developing world to adapt by the end of the present decade and beyond.

And finally the rule book has to have common time frameworks for reporting and action required, to help enhance pledges and to hold every country to account.

For example, China has stated it will hit net-zero by 2060, with their carbon emissions peaking in 2030.

Clearly this falls a decade behind the time frame established. But after verification from the International Energy Agency it is suggested likely that China will meet their targets earlier.

So with such common time frameworks, we can better investigate India’s declared aim this week of net-zero by 2070.

So while there will be many other issues and themes raised, like those during the first week, deforestation measures signed up again, methane measures from the US & EU, green finance, to name a few over the past few days, I make my trip during the second week of the COP26 in Glasgow with these above questions primarily in mind.

Only when these are satisfactorily answered can we say we have had a successful COP26.

• Murad Qureshi co-chaired the London Assembly Environment Committee from 2008 to 2016.

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