New global climate deal struck in Glasgow

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The Glasgow Climate Pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help countries deal with the devastating impacts of climate change, was agreed on Saturday after a two-week meeting of nearly 200 countries.

Throughout the climate change summit, known as COP26, it was heard of the damage that has been done to the planet, particularly to developing countries.

Scientists also predicted that more catastrophic impacts lie ahead with a looming water crisis, floods, droughts and other water-related disasters on the rise.

Parties have collectively agreed to work to advance their efforts this decade so that the rise in global temperature is limited to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which would avert the worst of these impacts.

COP President Alok Sharma at the UN Climate Change summit on Saturday. Photograph: UN CCC

The agreement was signed off late on Saturday 13 November after talks went into the weekend in Glasgow.

A dramatic last-minute weakening of the wording around coal, calling for it to be ‘phased down’ instead of ‘phased out,’ caused COP President Alok Sharma appear to fight back tears.

Many delegates showed their solidarity and support with a standing ovation. But, earlier, India’s climate minister, Bhupender Yadav had asked how developing countries could promise to phase out coal and fossil fuel subsidies when they “have still to deal with their development agendas and poverty eradication”.

In an official statement, Mr Sharma thanked Parties for their hard work, but admitted it was a ‘fragile win’.

“We have kept 1.5 alive. That was our overarching objective. But I would still say that the pulse of 1.5 is weak.”

Calling it nonetheless a ‘historic agreement’, he added: “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.”

Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO²) need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050 to avert deepening of the climate crisis.

Emission reduction contributions made so far by countries will leave global emissions 13.7 per cent above the 2010 level by 2030.

And, according to scientific analysis consortium, Climate Action Tracker, the pledges made at Glasgow will take us to a global temperature increase of 2.4 degrees by the end of this century.

At 2 degrees all of the world’s coral could be virtually wiped out, and the number of people living in areas affected by extreme heat stress could rise from 68 million today to around one billion, according to new projections from the Met Office.

This is why it is so important that countries come back next year with stronger plans, said Mr Sharma: “We must now move forward together and deliver on the expectations set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact, and close the vast gap which remains. Because as Prime Minister Mia Mottley told us at the start of this conference, for Barbados and other small island states, ‘two degrees is a death sentence’.”

John Kerry, the US envoy for climate, added that the “starting pistol” had
been fired.


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