COP 26 Concludes: Kicking the Can Down the Road.

COP 26 Concludes: Kicking the Can Down the Road.

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The United Nations COP 26 has concluded and failed to make the hoped-for progress that ebullient Prime Minister Boris Johnson had prayed for.

The climate debate now trundles on for another year till next year's COP27 in Cairo, Egypt. The final communique from Asok Sharma reads below.

I am very pleased to say that we now have in place the Glasgow Climate Pact, agreed amongst all the Parties here. I am really pleased that this has been delivered. It is down to the hard work of the UK team; the hard work of all the Parties; the great cooperation that we have seen from all negotiators and from all ministers; and right at the start of the summit, world leaders came out and set out what they wanted delivered out of this event.

I would say, however, that this is a fragile win. We have kept 1.5 alive. That was our overarching objective when we set off on this journey two years ago, taking on the role of the COP presidency-designate. But I would still say that the pulse of 1.5 is weak.

That is why, while we have reached, I do believe, a historic agreement. What this will be judged on is not just the fact that countries have signed up, but on whether they meet and deliver on the commitments.

During our Presidency year, which started at the start of this summit, we will ensure that we work really closely to ensure that the commitments that have been set out are being delivered by countries.

And we will work in partnership with all of them. Collectively we have got this over the line. I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped with this. But as I say, the hard work starts now. Thank you.

President of COP26, Alok Sharma, the UK Minister of State who presided over the fortnight-long talks in Glasgow, was close to tears in the final communique above, as he acknowledged disappointment that the global conference had failed in not agreeing to more rigid commitments.

The scale of the task remains daunting. He continued, “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5C alive, but its pulse is weak". Apparently, the all-important 1.5 is the number of no return, and if exceeded untold accelerating damage is destined to occur, or so we are informed.

Coal consumption is still rising, but the ambition now remains to phase it down but not out was the weak compromise agreed with the USA, Chinese and Indian delegations, who are the predominant global users and polluters.

Poorer island nations of the world affected by rising sea levels accepted defeat on their pleas to put stronger provisions on coastal loss and the concomitant damage into the text.

In the closing hours of the conference, nothing was agreed as to financial compensation from wealthier nations. Lia Nicholson, the lead negotiator for Antigua and Barbuda, who chairs the 37-strong Alliance of Small Island States, said: “We are extremely disappointed and we will express our grievance in due course.”

Another delegate from Africa added: “We are leaving empty-handed but morally stronger, and hopeful that we can sustain the momentum in the coming year to deliver meaningful support which will allow the vulnerable to deal with the irreversible impacts of climate change, created by the polluting world, who are failing to take responsibility.” He continued, “The needs of the world’s vulnerable people have been sacrificed on the altar of the rich world’s selfishness. The outcome here reflects a Cop held in the rich world and the outcome contains the priorities of the rich world.”

Surprisingly the elephant in the room was barely addressed. Unsustainable Population Growth is presently increasing at 80 million a year. Its forecast there will be 2 billion more people by 2050 and 3.5 billion more by the end of the century. Every human being on this planet creates additional carbon emissions, the rich with their private jets more than the poor, and the inevitable victims are the poor, not the rich.