Climate Change: COP26 Deal Clinched As Nations Rally To Compromise

Britain's President for COP26 Alok Sharma makes his concluding remarks during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma makes his concluding remarks during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Nearly 200 nations came together Saturday on a global deal to combat climate change after two weeks of painful negotiation, but fell short of what science says is needed to contain dangerous temperature rises.

Rich countries stood accused of failing at the COP26 summit in Glasgow to deliver much-needed finance to vulnerable states that are at risk of drought, rising seas, fire and storms.

Britain’s COP26 president Alok Sharma rounded up the marathon negotiations telling delegates: “It is now decision time. And the choices you are set to make are vitally important.”

READ ALSO: Activists Sound Alarm On Climate Anxiety

But there was last-gasp drama as China and India insisted that language on fossil fuels be weakened in the final summit decision text.

As the final deal was clinched, a tearful Sharma said “I apologise for the way this process has unfolded. I am deeply sorry,” before banging down his gavel.

Delegates entered the talks charged with keeping the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5-2C degrees within reach.

They were also tasked with finding the funding for nations most at risk of climate-related droughts, floods and storms supercharged by rising seas.

Observers said the agreement fell far short of what is needed to avert dangerous warming and help countries adapt or recoup damages from the disasters already unfurling globally.

Laurence Tubiana, the architect of the Paris deal, told AFP that “COP has failed to provide immediate assistance for people suffering now.”

Sharma earlier told delegates in the final throes of marathon talks that they faced a “moment of truth for our planet, for our children and our grandchildren”.

Survival

The final text urged nations to accelerate efforts to “phase down” unfiltered coal and “phase out” inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

Large emitters China and India had opposed the mention of the polluting fuels, and the language in the final text was significantly more nuanced than earlier drafts.

The deal also called on all countries to accelerate their emissions cuts by submitting new national plans by 2022, three years earlier than agreed in Paris.

But after resistance from rich nations led by the United States and EU, the text omitted any reference to a specific finance facility for the loss and damage climate change has already caused in the developing world.

It instead only promised future “dialogue” on the subject.

Youth climate activists, some with 1.5 written on their hands, demonstrate outside a plenary session room during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 10, 2021. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP
Youth climate activists, some with 1.5 written on their hands, demonstrate outside a plenary session room during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 10, 2021. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP

 

“For some loss and damage may be the beginning of conversation and dialogue,” said Shauna Aminath, the Maldives environment minister. “But for us this is a matter of survival.”

Although host Britain said it wanted COP26 to keep the 1.5C temperature cap in reach, a UN scientific assessment last week said countries’ latest climate plans put Earth on course to heat 2.7C.

The text noted “with deep regret” that wealthy nations had also failed to stump up a separate annual sum of $100 billion they promised over a decade ago. It urged countries to pay up “urgently and through 2025”.

It also promised to double finance to help developing countries adapt to rising temperatures by the same date.

1.5C on life support

But developing nations said it was unfair for the summit to produce an unbalanced agreement heavily weighted toward “mitigation” — how economies can ditch fossil fuels and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

They wanted specific instruction on how they can meet the bill of decarbonising while also adapting to the natural disasters supercharged by global warming.

“We were told that COP26 was the last best chance to keep 1.5C alive but it’s been placed on life support,” Amanda Mukwashi, CEO of Christian Aid.

“Rich nations have kicked the can down the road and with it the promise of the urgent climate action people on the frontline of this crisis need.”

The two weeks in Glasgow saw a number of high-profile announcements from world leaders, such as a commitment to slash methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

It also witnessed mass protests against what activists said was a dangerous lack of urgency.

Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International, said COP26 was “an insult to the millions of people whose lives are being torn apart by the climate crisis.”

 

AFP

COP26 Deal In Sight As Nations Rally For Compromise

US special climate envoy, John Kerry (centre right) undertakes some final negotiations near the close of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
US special climate envoy, John Kerry (centre right) undertakes some final negotiations near the close of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021.
Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

COP26 negotiators on Saturday began coalescing around a hard-fought deal to deliver the emissions reductions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, as the summit’s UK presidency warned the world faced a “moment of truth”.

India struck a discordant note, insisting on the right of developing economies to continue to use fossil fuels, as the two-week meeting in Glasgow edged towards its conclusion by debating a new draft text offered by COP26 president Alok Sharma.

But it was a rare note of objection as other influential players signalled their willingness to compromise, after the summit went into an unscheduled extra day Saturday.

READ ALSO: New Prison Riot In Ecuador Leaves 68 Dead

Chinese negotiator Zhao Yingmin said: “This text is by no means perfect, but we have no intention to open the text again.”

EU commission vice president Frans Timmermans said there was “a risk in this marathon of stumbling a couple of metres before the finishing line”, warning too against any reopening of the text.

US climate envoy John Kerry also backed the compromise, arguing “it is time to come together for future generations”.

Much-threatened island states including Fiji, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu all signalled their support, despite pushing for much more financial support as they risk being swallowed by rising seas.

Sharma said the delegates from nearly 200 countries faced a “moment of truth for our planet, for our children and our grandchildren”.

“So much rests on decisions taken collectively,” he said.

Delegates in Glasgow are trying to hammer out how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement goals to limit temperature rises to 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.

Countries already battered by climate disasters such as record-breaking drought, flooding and storms had demanded they be compensated separately for “loss and damage” — the mounting cost of global warming so far.

The new draft text released by Sharma’s team urged nations to accelerate efforts to phase out unfiltered coal and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.

India’s environment minister Bhupender Yadav told delegates that developing countries had the “right to their fair share of the global carbon budget and are entitled to the responsible use of fossil fuels”.

And after resistance from rich nations led by the United States and EU, the draft text omitted any reference to a specific finance facility for loss and damage, promising only future “dialogue” on the subject.

“For some loss and damage may be the beginning of conversation and dialogue,” said Shauna Aminath, the Maldives environment minister. “But for us this is a matter of survival.”

Do the right thing

The text noted “with deep regret” that wealthy nations had also failed to stump up a separate annual sum of $100 billion they promised over a decade ago. It urged countries to pay up “urgently and through 2025”.

Greenpeace International chief Jennifer Morgan told AFP that the language on fossil fuels “is far from what is needed but sends a signal –- I dare countries to take that out of the text right now”.

“The US has to support the most vulnerable on the issue of loss and damage. They cannot avoid this issue any longer. Nor can the European Union,” she added.

“I would call on President (Joe) Biden to do what’s right, and support the most vulnerable in helping them deal with their losses.”

Saleemul Huq, director of the ICCCAD climate NGO, said the British presidency had been “bullied” overnight into rejecting specific loss and damage funding.

“The UK’s words to the vulnerable countries have been proven to be totally unreliable,” he said.

Amadou Sebory Toure, head of the G77+China negotiating bloc, told AFP the proposal was “put forward by the entire developing world, representing six of every seven people on Earth”.

Developing nations said it was unfair for the summit to produce an unbalanced agreement heavily weighted toward “mitigation” — how economies can ditch fossil fuels by 2050.

They want specific instruction on how they can meet the bill of decarbonising while also adapting to the natural disasters supercharged by global warming.

Another key sticking point are rules governing carbon markets. Countries that benefited from a global framework predating Paris want to be able to carry over credits into the new deal.

In Draft Text, COP26 Urges Curbs On Coal And Faster Climate Action

Britain's President for COP26 Alok Sharma (C) prepares to address an 'informal stocktaking plenary' during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP
Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma (C) prepares to address an ‘informal stocktaking plenary’ during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 13, 2021.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

A UN climate summit text on Saturday urged nations to accelerate the phase-out of unfiltered coal and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies, after large emitters tried to remove the mention of polluting fuels. 

The text, which comes after two weeks of frantic negotiations at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, omitted any reference to specific finance for “loss and damage” — the mounting cost of global heating so far — which has been a key demand of poorer nations.

The mention on Saturday of fossil fuels was weaker than a previous draft, which called on countries to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”.

READ ALSO: Nigeria To Consider Investing In Nuclear Energy, Says Buhari

The new version, meanwhile, called for “accelerating efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

It also called for “recognising the need for support towards a just transition” — how developing nations still reliant on fossil fuels for power are assisted to decarbonise.

The texts also called for nations to accelerate their emissions cutting plans and submit new ones by the end of 2022 — three years earlier than set out in the Paris Agreement.

But it failed to allocate dedicated cash specifically for loss and damage, instead reiterating “the urgency of scaling up action and support” for vulnerable nations.

AFP

UK Turns Pessimistic As COP26 Misses Deadline

Britain's President for COP26 Alok Sharma (C) speaks with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (2L) and other members of his team following an informal stocktaking session at the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 12, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP
Britain’s President for COP26 Alok Sharma (C) speaks with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (2L) and other members of his team following an informal stocktaking session at the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 12, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday appealed to richer countries to place more “cash on the table” to secure a climate breakthrough as the COP26 meeting in Glasgow slipped into overtime.

Poorer countries have balked at demands to do more to curb their own emissions, without promised financial support to transition away from fossil fuels and to adapt to the accelerating impacts of climate change.

The deadlock pushed COP26 past its scheduled end at 1800 GMT, with intense haggling expected through late Friday or even into the weekend.

But Johnson said that the Glasgow summit in itself would not be able to stop global warming.

READ ALSO: New Emissions Pledges Barely Affect Global Heating – UN

“We won’t clinch it all at COP, but we can start,” he told reporters near London.

“We do need to see the cash on the table to help the developing world to make the necessary changes,” he said. “That’s what needs to happen in the next few hours.”

Delegates from nearly 200 nations are tasked with keeping alive the 2015 Paris goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as warming-driven disasters hit home around the world.

New wording to a draft COP26 agreement on Friday called for countries to accelerate “the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.

That was softer than a first version of the text, but observers said the inclusion of the fuels driving the climate crisis was an important step.

“Unabated” coal plants are those that do not deploy carbon capture technology to offset some of their pollution.

The text requests countries to come back next year with updated climate pledges.

US climate envoy John Kerry said in Glasgow that fossil fuel subsidies — including America’s own — were “insanity”.

“We believe that this is existential,” he told delegates.

“For many of you it is not existential in the future, it is existential today. People are dying today. All around the world the impacts are being felt, today.”

The draft text also fleshes out a call for developed countries to “at least double” their funding for adaptation — helping at-risk nations face climate impacts — by 2025.

But a faultline remains over the failure of wealthy nations to meet their decade-old promise to provide $100 billion annually to help vulnerable nations prepare for the worst.

Kenyan environment minister Keriako Tobiko told delegates that failure to honour the funding pledge had severely hurt confidence.

“For myself, for Kenya, our trust has been shattered,” he said, as more than 100 indigenous and other protesters marched through the summit venue demanding the rich world honour its promises.

‘Stark reality’

The two-week summit began with a bang as world leaders descended on Glasgow armed with a string of headline announcements, from a commitment to slash methane emissions to a plan to save rainforests.

But current national emissions cutting plans, all told, would lead to 2.7C of heating, according to the UN, far in excess of the Paris target.

In a speech to delegates, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans held up his mobile phone with a picture of his one-year-old grandson on screen.

“If we fail — and I mean fail now in the next few years — he will fight with other human beings for water and food. That’s the stark reality we face,” he said.

He said the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C is “about avoiding a future for our children and grandchildren that is unlivable”.

‘Saving lives’

Negotiations received a shot in the arm on Wednesday when the United States and China — the two largest emitters — unveiled a joint climate action plan, although it was light on detail.

But Johnson’s identification of the cash issue cuts to the core, with the rich West accused of creating climate change but now refusing to pay for its consequences.

Developed nations meanwhile favour a greater push on emissions reductions, something countries yet to fully electrify their grids — and largely blameless for emissions — feel is unfair.

Countries already battered by climate disasters such as record-breaking drought and flooding are also demanding they be compensated separately for “loss and damage”.

“Rich nations treat climate finance as charity or a favour to placate developing countries into signing a compromised package of decisions,” Harjeet Singh, senior adviser at Climate Action Network International, told AFP.

“We are talking about saving lives and undoing an injustice to build a safe future for all.”

AFP

COP26: Nigeria To Consider Investing In Nuclear Energy, Says Buhari

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari makes a national statement on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP / POOL
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari makes a national statement on the second day of the COP26 UN Climate Summit in Glasgow on November 2, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP / POOL

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria will consider investing in nuclear energy as part of efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and adapt to climate change.

The President made the remarks in his message to rich nations at the COP26, a statement signed on Tuesday by presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said.

“We can also invest in nuclear. Though not renewable it is carbon neutral and capable of producing a baseload, constant electricity production on which sustained economic progress can be built,” Buhari said.

“Nigeria is among a handful of African countries exploring nuclear power, with a research reactor already operational.”

READ ALSO: New Emissions Pledges Barely Affect Global Heating – UN

Meanwhile, the President urged rich countries to support less developed countries as the race towards net-zero carbon emissions heats up.

According to Buhari, rich countries have a track-record of lying about their own climate sustainability progress while expecting less richer economies to make larger sacrifices.

He further called for the funding of more fossil fuel projects, particularly gas, in Nigeria as the country makes its transition into cleaner sources of energy.

“And we can also learn from our friends in Europe and America who do not always practice what they preach,” the President said.

“We call on them to lift the moratorium they have placed on fossil fuel investments in Africa.

“We cannot easily convert gas flaring – a by-product of the oil industry and Nigeria’s single greatest contributor to greenhouse emissions – to energy production without it.

“There are no such limitations on investment in natural gas power in the West where it is considered a transitional energy source.”

New Emissions Pledges Barely Affect Global Heating – UN

Climate change activists dressed as world leaders, including from left, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, and US President Joe Biden, pose for a photograph during a demonstration in the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow on November 9, 2021, during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. Andy Buchanan / AFP
Climate change activists dressed as world leaders, including from left, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, and US President Joe Biden, pose for a photograph during a demonstration in the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow on November 9, 2021, during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. Andy Buchanan / AFP

 

New emissions-cutting pledges — including a vow during COP26 by India to be carbon neutral by 2070 — are likely to have a minimal effect on temperature rises this century, an updated UN assessment said Tuesday. 

In its annual Emissions Gap report last month, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) had said current decarbonisation plans — known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs — put the world on track to warm 2.7C this century.

It warned that countries needed to slash emissions more than seven times faster to keep warming in line with 1.5C, the most ambitious Paris Agreement temperature goal.

READ ALSO: Australia Vows To Sell Coal ‘For Decades’

In an updated assessment, UNEP said Tuesday that even when new pledges were factored in, the effect on the climate is predicted to be “very similar” to existing net-zero plans.

This is due to due to “limited changes to 2030 emissions,” UNEP said.

UN Climate Change said last week that countries’ renewed NDCs — updated every five years under the Paris agreement — would see emissions climb 13.7 percent by 2030 before sharply declining thereafter.

To keep in line with 1.5C, those emissions must instead fall 45 percent by then.

“We are not where we need to be and we need to step up with much more action,” said UNEP executive director Inger Andersen.

“At this point, when we look at what has come in in the additional pledges frankly, it’s an elephant giving birth to a mouse.”

‘Kick the can’

Current plans and announcements made as of Tuesday would likely save 500 million tonnes of carbon pollution by 2030, UNEP said.

But it said that, taken together, all current national emissions-reduction plans would still see warming of 2.7C by 2100.

Factoring in net-zero action such as carbon offsets and reforestation alongside decarbonisation efforts could see that fall to 2.1C — down from last month’s assessment but still missing the Paris goal of “well below” 2C of warming.

Some major emitters such as the United States and European Union have relatively comprehensive, costed plans on how they plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Other large polluters, notably China, have indicated net-zero targets but have yet to publish details on how they plan to achieve this.

“It is not good to see that the (net-zero) pledges are generally untransparent,” said Andersen.

“They’re hard to calculate, hard to hold to account and of course many of them kick the can beyond 2030.”

UNEP’s assessment came on the same day as a similar analysis by the think tank Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which said that if countries fully implement their short-term emissions goals, heating could be limited to 2.4C this century.

The CAT calculation is based on a 50-percent probability of hitting a given temperature, whereas UNEP’s is a more conservative 66 percent.

 

AFP

Obama Says Youth ‘Right To Be Frustrated’ At Climate Inaction

Former US President Barack Obama speaks during a session at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 8, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Former US President Barack Obama speaks during a session at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 8, 2021. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Former US President Barack Obama said Monday he understood why young people were “frustrated” with climate inaction from leaders and that “most countries have failed” to live up to promises they made in the Paris Agreement.

Obama, who was US leader in 2015 when the landmark accord was struck, said the world needed to “step up” its emissions-cutting pledges and work together to limit global temperature rises.

“We have not done nearly enough to address this crisis,” he told delegates in Glasgow. “We are going to have to do more and whether that happens or not to a large degree is going to depend on you.”

READ ALSO: Activists Sound Alarm On Climate Anxiety

In the six years since the Paris deal — which seeks to limit global heating to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius — planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions have continued to mount, and an assessment last week said that carbon pollution will rebound this year to pre-pandemic levels.

“By some measures the agreement has been a success,” Obama said. “(But) we are nowhere near where we need to be yet.”

He admitted that “some of our progress stalled” when his successor Donald Trump chose to unilaterally withdraw the US from the Paris deal.

President Joe Biden re-joined the accord when he took office.

Obama said that China and Russia — whose leaders skipped a high-level segment in Glasgow last week attended by more than 120 heads of state and government — have shown a “dangerous lack of urgency” on climate commitments.

“Most countries have failed to be as ambitious as they need to be,” he added.

“We need advanced economies like the US and Europe leading on this issue but you know the facts. We also need China leading on this issue and India leading on this issue,” said the former president.

Addressing young activists who cheered and filmed his speech on their smartphones he said it was “not easy being young today.”

“Most of your lives you’ve been bombarded with warnings about what the future will look like if you don’t address climate change,” he said.

“Meanwhile, you’re watching many of the adults who are in positions to do something about either act like the problem doesn’t exist or refuse to make the hard decisions necessary to address it.”

‘Get busy and vote’

He said that his generation’s lack of urgency was “a real source of anxiety and real anger”.

“You are right to be frustrated. My generation has not done enough to deal with a potentially cataclysmic problem that you now stand to inherit,” said Obama.

Echoing advice he said his mother gave him whenever he was sad or frustrated, he advised young people: “Don’t sulk. Get busy.”

“Get to work and change what needs to be changed. Luckily that’s exactly what young people around the world are doing right now,” he said.

He spoke of his admiration for the next generation of leaders, including Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg who inspired a global school strike for climate.

He joked how he was “unlike Greta. I was not on the cover of Time magazine when I was 16 years old. And if I was skipping school, it had nothing to do with climate change.”

Obama called on young people who were eligible to turn out and vote “like your life depends on it”.

“I recognise that a lot of young people might be cynical of politics. But the cold hard fact is we will not have more ambitious climate plans unless governments feel some pressure from voters,” he said.

‘It Kills Me Inside’: Activists Sound Alarm On Climate Anxiety

Jennifer Uchedu, a Nigerian ecofeminist, sustainability communicator and founder of SustyVibes, works on her laptop at her workspace in Ogudu, Lagos on October 31, 2021. Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP
Jennifer Uchedu, a Nigerian ecofeminist, sustainability communicator and founder of SustyVibes, works on her laptop at her workspace in Ogudu, Lagos on October 31, 2021. Benson Ibeabuchi / AFP

 

From Bangladesh to Britain to Nigeria, many young campaigners on the frontlines of the global fight for climate justice now face a new problem: the impact the crisis is having on their mental health.

As thousands of delegates converged at the COP26 summit in Glasgow to discuss ways to tackle the environmental emergency, AFP interviewed three youth activists around the world who spoke candidly of their experience of climate anxiety.

In Bangladesh, ranked seventh for countries most affected by extreme weather, activist Sohanur Rahman said he feels overwhelmed with concern over what he sees as a lack of political will to stop the destruction.

In this picture taken on October 26, 2021 Sohanur Rahman, a voluntary climate activist of a Bangladeshi youth organisation for raising awareness who is also a participant of the upcoming cop26 conference, poses for a photo in Barisal, Bangladesh. Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP
In this picture taken on October 26, 2021 Sohanur Rahman, a voluntary climate activist of a Bangladeshi youth organisation for raising awareness who is also a participant of the upcoming cop26 conference, poses for a photo in Barisal, Bangladesh. Munir UZ ZAMAN / AFP

 

“(The) climate crisis is to me a mental stress, trauma and nightmare,” says the 24-year-old, who now lives in the town of Barisal and who remembers a 2007 super cyclone that killed thousands of people in the South Asian nation.

“It kills me inside,” he says softly, adding that he fears for his parents who live in the village of Nathullabad that was levelled by the cyclone.

‘Environmental doom’

The American Psychological Association has described climate or eco-anxiety as a “chronic fear of environmental doom”.

As with other forms of anxiety, living with it long-term can impair people’s daily ability to function, while exacerbating underlying mental health issues.

Researchers have warned children and young people are particularly vulnerable, as they contemplate a future mired with scorching heatwaves, devastating floods and storms, and rising seas.

A recent report led by researchers at the University of Bath in Britain, surveying 10,000 young people in 10 countries, found that 77 percent viewed the future as frightening because of climate change.

Around half of the respondents told researchers their fears over environmental change were affecting their daily lives.

Fear, anxiety, anger

Speaking to AFP in London, activist Dominique Palmer said: “I’m looking at the future, and what we face in the future, and there is a lot of fear and anxiety. And there is anger.

“Young people, myself included, feel betrayed by world leaders,” the 22-year-old said at a climate protest ahead of the COP26 summit.

To deal with her anxiety, she campaigns.

Commuters make their way along a street amid smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 5, 2021. Prakash SINGH / AFP
Commuters make their way along a street amid smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 5, 2021. Prakash SINGH / AFP

 

“Sometimes it can feel quite hopeless until I am back and organising with my community,” she said.

In Johannesburg, clinical psychologist Garret Barnwell showed sympathy and understanding for the young people facing difficult emotions over the crisis.

“It’s a reality that children are facing this changing world. They’re experiencing fear, anger, hopelessness, helplessness,” Barnwell said.

The pressures of climate change also amplify pre-existing social injustices, he said, so younger generations are not only concerned about the environment but also, for example, healthcare access.

Climate activist Dominique Palmer (R) joins campaigners at a demonstration demanding that 'big finance' defunds fossil fuels, outside the headquarters of Standard Chartered bank in the City of London on October 29, 2021,  Tolga Akmen / AFP
Climate activist Dominique Palmer (R) joins campaigners at a demonstration demanding that ‘big finance’ defunds fossil fuels, outside the headquarters of Standard Chartered bank in the City of London on October 29, 2021, Tolga Akmen / AFP

 

Yet despite this, when young people articulate their fears to adults such as teachers, often they find their feels are “invalidated”, Barnwell added.

He welcomed the growing global awareness of climate anxiety, adding that while therapy can be helpful ultimately what is needed was political action.

‘We bear the burden’

But in the eyes of many young activists, that concrete action is lacking.

At the COP26 summit, dozens of countries this week joined a United States and European Union pledge to cut methane emissions.

The initiative, which experts say could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating, followed an agreement by 100 nations to end deforestation by 2030.

But a simmering diplomatic spat between the United States, China and Russia over their climate action ambitions showed the fragile nature of the talks.

“The previous COP, COP25, really sort of brought out this eco-anxiety I felt,” said eco-feminist Jennifer Uchendu, 29, in Lagos.

She said she believed climate anxiety was especially an issue for younger people growing up in nations disproportionately affected by climate change.

“We bear the burden of climate change, even though we contributed the least to it,” she said, a frown creasing her face.

Uchendu said that rather than bury her fears, she tries to accept them as valid.

“It’s OK to feel overwhelmed,” she said.

“It’s OK to be afraid, scared and even anxious in the face of something so big and so overwhelming.”

AFP

COP26: Thousands Of Young People To Protest At Glasgow

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) takes part in a protest at Festival Park in Glasgow on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Summit on November 1, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) takes part in a protest at Festival Park in Glasgow on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Summit on November 1, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Thousands of youth activists were preparing to descend on Glasgow on Friday to protest against what they say is a dangerous lack of action by leaders at the COP26 climate summit. 

Demonstrations are expected across the Scottish city to highlight the disconnect between the glacial pace of emissions reductions and the climate emergency already swamping countries across the world.

Organisers of the Fridays for Future global strike movement said they expected large crowds at the planned three-hour protest during COP26 “Youth Day”, which will be attended by high-profile campaigners Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate.

“This UN Climate Summit, we’re once again seeing world leaders saying big words and big promises,” said Mitze Joelle Tan, a climate justice activist from the Philippines.

READ ALSO: Mexican President Slams COP26 ‘Hypocrisy’

“We need drastic carbon dioxide emission cuts, reparations from the Global North to the Global South to use for adaptation and to manage loss and damages, and we need to put an end to the fossil fuel industry.”

Delegates from nearly 200 countries are in Glasgow to hammer out how to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius.

The UN-led process requires countries to commit to ever-increasing emissions cuts, and enjoins richer, historical emitters to help developing countries fund their energy transformations and deal with climate impacts.

Countries issued two additional pledges on Thursday to reduce their fossil fuel consumption.

Twenty nations including major financiers the United States and Canada promised to end overseas fossil fuel funding by the end of 2022.

And over 40 countries pledged to phase out coal — the most polluting fossil fuel — although details were vague and a timeline for doing so not disclosed.

Thunberg was unimpressed, tweeting: “This is no longer a climate conference. This is a Global North greenwash festival.”

‘Take responsibility’

Experts say a commitment made during the high-level leaders summit at the start of COP26 by more than 100 nations to cut methane emissions by at least 30 percent this decade will have a real short-term impact on global heating.

But environmental groups pointed out that governments, particularly wealthy polluters, have a habit of failing to live up to their climate promises.

“On Monday, I stood in front of world leaders in Glasgow and asked them to open their hearts to the people on the frontlines of the climate crisis,” said Kenyan activist Elizabeth Wathuti, who addressed the conference’s opening plenary.

“I asked them to take their historic responsibility seriously and to take serious action here. So far they haven’t.”

Countries came into COP26 with national climate plans that, when brought together, puts Earth on course to warm 2.7C this century, according to the UN.

With just 1.1C of warming so far, communities across the world are already facing ever more intense fire and drought, displacement and economic ruin wrought by our heating climate.

“We are tired of fighting against the current ‘normal — the ‘normal’ we have is unviable, unsustainable and not enough,” said Kenyan activist Kevin Mtai.

“We need to change.”

AFP

Mexican President Slams COP26 ‘Hypocrisy’

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador delivers a press conference about the results of Sunday’s midterm elections at the National Palace in Mexico City on June 7, 2021. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AE / AFP)

 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador Wednesday slammed participants in a major UN climate summit for their “hypocrisy,” accusing them of failing to address the root causes of the crisis and pointing to their use of private jets.

The world’s top business and political figures are gathered in Glasgow this week for COP26, which is aimed at forging an ambitious new climate agreement.

But Mexico’s leftist leader — also known as AMLO — dismissively compared the summit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, known for its eye-watering prices and elite chin-wagging.

“These summits resemble those in Davos,” said Lopez Obrador — among the heads of state who chose not to attend COP26 — describing WEF attendees as “technocrats and neoliberals.”

The world’s most powerful countries “increase their fuel production, at the same time that they hold summits for the protection of the environment,” he said. “And then they arrive in private planes.”

“Enough hypocrisy and fad. We must fight the massive monstrous inequality that exists in the world, that’s what I will tell the UN.”

Lopez Obrador, who has made only a handful of foreign trips since taking office in 2018, will travel to New York next week as Mexico takes over the presidency of the UN Security Council.

“If we want to protect the environment, we must make decisions, act, and not just talk,” he said, hailing major oil producer Mexico’s decision to invest $1.3 billion a year in reforestation.

The program — known as “Sowing Life” — aims to create 15,000 jobs planting a billion trees across Mexico’s 32 states.

COP26: China Slams Biden For Criticising President Xi’s No-Show

A photo combination of US President Joe Biden and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, created on November 3, 2021.

 

China hit back Wednesday against criticism by US President Joe Biden, who had accused Beijing of not showing leadership after President Xi Jinping skipped the make-or-break COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow.

Xi — who leads the planet’s largest emitter of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change — has not travelled outside of China since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and has not joined world leaders for COP26.

Biden on Tuesday had launched blistering criticism of the Chinese and Russian leaders for not attending the summit.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded Wednesday.

“What we need in order to deal with climate change is concrete action rather than empty words,” he added. “China’s actions in response to climate change are real.”

READ ALSO: Biden Says China, Russia Failed To Lead At Climate Summit

He also made a jibe at Washington by adding that the United States pulling out of the Paris Agreement under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump had harmed global climate governance and the implementation of the accord.

Biden has apologised for Trump’s decision.

COP26 has been billed as vital for the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement under which nations promised to limit global temperature rises to “well below” 2C and to work for a safer 1.5C cap.

At the summit on Tuesday, nearly one hundred nations joined the US and European Union initiative to cut emissions of methane — a potent greenhouse gas — by at least 30 percent this decade, with China among notable absentees.

Experts say the initiative could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating.

“It just is a gigantic issue and they walked away. How do you do that and claim to be able to have any leadership?” Biden told journalists before flying out of Glasgow.

“It’s been a big mistake, quite frankly, for China not showing up. The rest of the world looked at China and said: ‘What value are they providing?'”

COP26: US Pledges To ‘Sharply’ Reduce Methane Emissions

Oil pumpjacks operate on November 02, 2021 in Seal Beach, California. The Biden administration pledged to cut methane emissions from oil and gas production today. AFP

 

US President Joe Biden’s administration announced new regulations during the global climate summit on Tuesday aimed at “sharply” reducing methane emissions by the oil and natural gas industry.

The announcement came as Biden attended the COP26 in Glasgow, where dozens of countries joined an American and European Union pledged to cut emissions of methane — the most potent greenhouse gas — by 30 percent this decade.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was proposing “comprehensive new protections to sharply reduce pollution from the oil and natural gas industry.”

“The proposed rule would reduce 41 million tons of methane emissions from 2023 to 2035, the equivalent of 920 million metric tons of carbon dioxide,” the EPA said in a statement.

“That’s more than the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from all US passenger cars and commercial aircraft in 2019,” it added.

READ ALSO: COP26: Jeff Bezos Hails Nigeria’s Resolve To Restore Degraded Lands

The emission reduction requirements would apply not only to existing oil and gas sources but to those built in the future.

US President Joe Biden addresses a press conference at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow on November 2, 2021.  Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

It requires states to “develop plans to limit methane emissions from hundreds of thousands of existing sources nationwide.”

The EPA said it expects to issue a final rule before the end of the year.

“As global leaders convene at this pivotal moment in Glasgow for COP26, it is now abundantly clear that America is back and leading by example in confronting the climate crisis with bold ambition,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

The White House also announced that the Department of Transportation will upgrade and expand pipeline rules that will require operators to cut methane leaks.

The administration will also launch an “aggressive” program to plug hundreds of thousands of “orphan” oil and gas wells, including many that are still spewing out methane.

The oil and gas industry is responsible for around 30 percent of total methane emissions in the United States.

Biden has set a reduction target of 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels in greenhouse gas pollution by 2030.

The Biden administration announcement was welcomed by environmental groups.

“Swiftly reducing methane emissions will result in significant and much-needed near-term climate progress,” said Julie McNamara, deputy policy director in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Today’s actions by EPA Administrator Regan take important strides in achieving that necessary progress,” McNamara said.

Thanu Yakupitiyage of international environmental organization 350.org said CO2 emissions must be addressed as well.

“Methane emissions must be curbed and curbed quick,” Yakupitiyage said. “But this effort should not deviate from efforts to curb CO2 emissions.”