COP26: Final Week Update.Ruth Torty 13th November 2021 0 COMMENTS
The last week of the Climate Summit at Glasgow has been eventful. From the interesting address given by a Tuvalu minister knee deep in water, to China and the US committing to reduce their emissions and the 503 mystery. Currently, COP26 has stretched past its deadline into Saturday.
The 503 mystery
503 is the number of delegates who are representing oil and gas companies at the Climate Summit. Some of these delegates were registered under different countries while over 100 fossil fuel companies were represented with 30 trade associations and membership organizations. According to the global witnesses, the fossil fuels lobbyists outnumber UNFCCC’s official indigenous constituency by around two to one. Analysis reveal that if they were representing one country, they would be the largest delegation.
This means that the agreements made in Glasgow could be influenced by the interests of fossil fuel companies.
Tuvalu made the headlines earlier in the week when its foreign minister gave his speech while standing knee deep in water. Tuvalu is a low-lying Pacific Island nation that is literally sinking into water.
Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s foreign minister, addressed the COP26 in a virtual conference and made the call for immediate actions on climate change. Kofe made this call for support while standing knee deep in the sea.
For the people on the island, it is not just rising sea levels but the loss of their lives and homes. However, the large emitters of greenhouse gases have to be intentional about the cause.
Delegates join Protesters and Obama encourages activists.
Even as the protests continued outside the Summit building in Glasgow, Barack Obama, the former president of the United States of America made his appearance at the Climate Summit. The former president who helped seal the Paris Agreement in 2015 was welcomed by a large crowd.
However, several of Obama’s efforts on climate change were undone during Donald Trump’s administration. Obama blamed the Republicans for allowing politics to get in the way of survival. He has also encouraged young activists and protesters to keep demanding for action and ‘stay angry’.
“The most important energy in this movement is coming from young people,” he said. “And the reason is simple. They have more at stake in this than anybody else.”
Despite Obama’s presence at the Summit, a large number of attendees were not happy with ongoing events. Several delegates from different civil organizations walked out of the building on the final morning of the Summit. These civil groups include the indigenous people, environmental organizations and farmers. Some of these individuals expressed their frustrations at the lack of headway in the Summit.
One of the representatives, Tracy Bach of the advocacy steering group Ringo, informed the audience that several observers had not had access to negotiation space. Carrying red ribbons and chanting ‘climate justice now’ and ‘power to the people’, these representatives marched out of the secured area of the Summit to join the protesters.
Deadline Missed Amidst Money and Draft Agreement Issues
The Climate Summit which was slated to end on Friday has been extended due to the stalemate on several issues. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged rich countries to provide funds for poorer countries to deal with the effects of climate change. This is one of the problems that has dragged the Summit into overtime. Another issue is how often countries should be required to update their emission pledges.
Furthermore, the new draft agreement was released on the final day of the Summit. Although the draft includes a demand on countries to set tougher climate pledges, it lacks the use of firm language in asking nations to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. China and Saudi Arabia are said to be among the countries seeking to remove references to fossil fuel subsidies.
These last minute negotiations continue to stretch the Summit. However, Alok Sharma, the President of 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference has insisted the Summit would close on Saturday. Already, several activists have left the Summit—dissatisfied with the proceedings.
The importance of the Climate Summit is best summarized in the words of Katharine Hayhoe, a leading climate scientist.
“When you take action for climate, it’s for you. It’s for your family, it’s for everything you love.”
Ruth Torty is a biochemist, and freelance science writer. She writes to shed light on health issues, rare diseases and science research in Nigeria. She is also a creative writer and has published on different literary sites including Spillwords and Nnoko Stories. She is passionate about genomics and its role in healthcare.