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Climate and Environment

Glasgow climate pact leaves Filipino activists disappointed

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Glasgow climate pact leaves Filipino activists disappointed
This November 13, 2021 photos shows the logo of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Philstar.com/Gaea Katreena Cabico

GLASGOW, United Kingdom — The major agreement sealed on Saturday that sought to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius alive left observers dismayed as it fell short of providing the funds needed by vulnerable countries to deal with the catastrophic impacts of climate change. 

The Glasgow Climate Pact, signed by 200 nations after two weeks of intense negotiations, called on countries to reduce the use of coal for the first time in the history of the UN-brokered talks. It also urged governments to boost their plans to curb planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions sooner. 

But the conference ended with last-minute objections from coal-dependent countries China and India who wanted the language on coal watered down from “phase out” to “phase down.” 

The pact does not also reflect a commitment from developed countries to pay the long-overdue financial pledge of $100 billion per year. 

Although the deal urged rich nations to “at least double” the funding to help developing countries like the Philippines adapt to climate change impacts, it was criticized for not doing enough.

Tony La Viña, a negotiator in previous climate talks, called the outcome of the climate negotiations held in the Scottish city of Glasgow a “disappointment.” 

“While advances were made, they do not go far enough. What was agreed was the bare minimum and not the maximum possibles,” he said. 

“The long, drawn-out negotiations ended in a deal that allows developed country governments to sidestep their responsibility to deliver their fair share of climate action and settle their climate debt,” said Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development coordinator Lidy Nacpil. 

Jon Bonifacio, an activist with Fridays for Future and Youth for Climate Action Philippines, said the Glasgow agreement “did little to ascertain our present and future when it comes to the climate crisis.”

“This means we keep fighting, at the international, national, all the way to the community level to make sure that we are heard and that we are not ignored,” he said. 

Loss and damage

One of the most contentious issues during COP26 was “loss and damage” associated with the adverse impacts of climate change. 

Vulnerable countries have been pushing for dedicated funding that will help them cope with losses and damages from extreme weather events and slow onset events such as sea level rise brought by fossil fuel burning and deforestation. 

But a proposal for a loss and damage finance facility was blocked by developed nations.

“They were not ready for that approach even though they kept saying we recognize that you need this assistance,” G77 and China negotiator Vicente Yu told Philstar.com on the sidelines of COP26. G77 and China, which includes 134 countries, is the largest negotiating bloc. 

Instead, governments conceded to initiate a “dialogue” to discuss the arrangements for the funding of activities “to avert, minimize and address” loss and damage in future talks.

“Without adequate and forthcoming climate finance and strong acknowledgement from rich countries on their financial responsibility for loss and damage, it will be hard for developing countries already grappling with COVID-19 and heightened poverty to confront impacts from climate extremes and slow-onset events,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Saño, a former climate negotiator for the Philippines.

Incremental wins

Despite the letdowns, there were advances made during COP26. The rulebook of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement was finalized, allowing the delivery of the landmark accord. 

The Santiago Network, a network of organizations and experts that can provide technical assistance and support to vulnerable countries, was also operationalized. 

Climate Reality Project Philippines branch manager Nazrin Castro said COP26 was an “incremental step forward” rather than the “monumental leap” needed to ensure a livable planet. 

“We aim for incremental wins here and there in hope that eventually they all amount to steps forward to fighting climate change together,” Yu said. 

In a speech on Saturday, the Philippine delegation, through Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentabella, expressed concerns over several portions of the agreement, but said the country remains hopeful. 

“As a country, we remain hopeful that we come out of Glasgow hungrier [...] for more action,” he said. 

For Yu, who has been attending UN climate talks since 2007, hope for a better future does not lie in the outcomes of negotiations. 

“That hope lies not in what we agree here. But that hope lies in what we do back home and together in our communities, in our countries, in international level,” he said. 

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This story was produced as part of the 2021 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

CLIMATE CHANGE CLIMATE CRISIS COP26
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 15, 2021 - 7:25am

Bookmark this page for updates on the United Nations climate summit, known as COP26. Photo courtesy of AFP/Tolga Akmen

November 15, 2021 - 7:25am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday hails a global accord to speed up action against climate change as "truly historic" and "the beginning of the end for coal power".

But he says his "delight at this progress" at the UN COP26 summit in Glasgow was "tinged with disappointment" because of a failure to secure the agreement of all countries to phase out hydrocarbons.

"Those for whom climate change is already a matter of life and death, who can only stand by as their islands are submerged, their farmland turned to desert, their homes battered by storms, they demanded a high level of ambition from this summit," says Johnson. — AFP

November 13, 2021 - 6:02pm

A UN climate summit text on Saturday urges 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". — AFP

November 13, 2021 - 9:11am

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeals to richer countries to stump up more money to secure a breakthrough, exposing a central fault line at the marathon talks. 

Developing economies led by India have balked at demands to do more to curb emissions without promised financial support to transition away from fossil fuels, and to adapt to the accelerating impacts of climate change. — AFP

November 12, 2021 - 4:56pm

A draft final statement of the COP26 summit Friday calls for nations to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, as two weeks of crunch climate negotiations approach their conclusion. 

A conference draft decision published on the UN Climate Change website urged countries to accelerate "the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels".

It was a rare mention of the fuels driving global heating in more than two decades of UN-led climate negotiations. — AFP

November 12, 2021 - 7:35am

Promises by governments to cut carbon emissions "ring hollow" as long as they continue to funnel trillions of investment to oil, gas and coal projects, UN chief Antonio Guterres says Thursday.

"The announcements here in Glasgow are encouraging -– but they are far from enough," he tells the COP26 climate summit.

"Promises ring hollow when the fossil fuels industry still receives trillions in subsidies." — AFP

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