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Glasgow summit ended up with commitments

The Climate Summit in Glagow resulted in a late closing statement on Saturday evening. Is the summit a success?

A total flop is certainly not ‘Glasgow’. First of all, countries came up with a range of promises. Every day a promise came out. That was carefully directed by the British organizers. For example, China and the US –the two biggest polluters– promised to work together to reduce greenhouse gases. More than 100 countries are also going to significantly reduce methane emissions. There is also a promise to combat deforestation. And so the list of promises can be extended even further.

A second positive point at the summit is that the 2015 Paris climate agreement is final. The rules that have been debated for six years –an international carbon trade– have finally crystallized.

There are also two results whose results are disappointing. The first is that coal is mentioned by name in the final declaration. All countries therefore support a reduction in the use of this fossil fuel. That’s a good thing. Even in the Paris Agreement, coal was nowhere mentioned in concrete terms. The ‘ but ‘ is: at the last minute, the text in the declaration was watered down at the insistence of India and China. Instead of the stronger “phasing out”of coal, it was written “phasing out”. A second ‘but’: the statement does not say a word about oil and gas.

The second outcome that is disappointing is the limited extra climate ambitions. Before the climate summit it was already clear that all the climate plans of countries would still lead to a warming of 2.7 degrees. While the goal is to not increase the temperature by more than 1.5 degrees compared to 1850. Additional measures therefore had to be taken. Although India came up with new plans, Glasgow did not make a breakthrough on this point. On the positive side, however, the fact that the 1.5-degree target, as the British president of COP26 Alok Sharma called it, seems to have been ‘kept alive’ seems to have succeeded. For example, it has been agreed that countries will have to come up with stricter targets next year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

On a number of points Glasgow has not produced a desired result. Those points have to do with money. The most painful thing is the financing of climate measures in developing countries. Poorer countries in Glasgow constantly insisted that the old promise of rich countries –from 2009– had to be fulfilled. But unfortunately. Money was promised, but it didn’t come close to the promised 100 billion dollars a year. Many developing countries will feel empty-handed.

All the more so because they also called for an additional fund for loss and damage caused by climate change. But there was no fund.

It remains hopeful that all countries signed the declaration and that it will continue in comparison with previous summits. But as many activists and scientists stress, it is too little, too late. According to them, the carefully orchestrated promises hide the lack of real action. Somewhere they have a point: there is a gap between promise and do. Only with a serious approach can disastrous warming really be prevented. So after this summit of promises, it is now time for countries to become the summit in delivering promises.

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