Diluted deal

Published November 15, 2021

THE aim: agree on measures to keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C, or else prepare for Planet Earth to rapidly become unlivable. That stark choice, illustrated by the escalating frequency of extreme climate events, should have precluded any hemming and hawing — were it not for entrenched financial interests linked with the fossil fuel industry.

With a global climate deal having at last been agreed upon at the COP26 in Glasgow after tortuous negotiations that exceeded the Friday deadline, it seems the fears of many environmental activists in the run-up to the UN climate change conference were not misplaced.

One of the most well-known among them, Greta Thunberg, has described such gatherings as “blah blah blah” — all talk and no action. Greenpeace International executive director Jennifer Morgan tweeted during the event: “We’ve witnessed a deliberate and cynical effort by a few nations to create a charter for cheating, offsets and loopholes. Hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists are here and their fingerprints are all over this conference.”

Read more: Saudi Arabia denies playing saboteur at Glasgow climate summit

Countries needed to commit to drastic measures to lower greenhouse gas emissions and rich nations to meet the repeatedly missed target of $100bn in climate finance — considered by many as grossly inadequate — to support the developing world’s efforts and also compensate it for damage already caused.

However, despite the world hurtling towards an apocalyptic future, some countries dragged their feet on what should have been non-negotiable. The final text refers to a coal phasedown rather than a coal phaseout and includes no mention of compensation for climate-induced damage, with a notable absence of timeline-bound plans. Instead, nations have been asked to return next year with enhanced targets on emissions cuts that are still too inadequate to halt humanity’s march towards destruction.

Activist groups have termed the deal “weak” and “cunningly curated”, even as some delegates attempted to put a positive spin on the outcome.

Climate change has become a hugely emotive issue, particularly among the world’s younger demographic typified by Ms Thunberg that is on the front lines of this existential challenge. It is a cruel irony that those least responsible for the factors driving it stand to lose the most. Much of the developing world, Pakistan included, that contributes comparatively little to greenhouse gas emissions, stands to suffer the worst fallout of climate change. This country’s Nationally Determined Contribution commits to cutting 50pc of projected emissions and achieving 60pc renewable energy by 2030 — an ambitious target contingent on climate financing.

Read more: Youth groups protest lack of action at climate summit in Glasgow

Ultimately, Pakistan’s fate and that of the world depends on whether the deal hammered out at COP26 is so diluted as to be fatally compromised. The Maldivian delegate described it as an “incremental step forward [and] not in line with the progress needed,” adding poignantly, “It will be too late for the Maldives”. He may well have spoken for much of the world.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Taking stock
Updated 14 Aug, 2022

Taking stock

There are numerous reasons behind our predicament, and many of our wounds are self-inflicted.
Medicine in short supply
14 Aug, 2022

Medicine in short supply

THAT rising import prices of pharmaceutical raw materials and increasing production costs of manufacturers have...
Police excesses
Updated 13 Aug, 2022

Police excesses

Crass thuggery and victimisation of ordinary citizens are unlikely to earn govt plaudits from any quarter.
Afghan cleric’s killing
13 Aug, 2022

Afghan cleric’s killing

THAT a suicide bomber belonging to the self-styled Islamic State group managed to target a senior Taliban cleric in...
No room for hockey
13 Aug, 2022

No room for hockey

THERE have been accusations and clarifications as the blame game rumbles on. Yet despite workers of the PTI ...
Militancy redux
Updated 12 Aug, 2022

Militancy redux

There is fear and confusion all around, and it is for the state to bring clarity to the situation.