The promise to end deforestation by 2030 was also formally announced on Tuesday. It was hailed as a significant development, not only because it attracted the support of nations like Indonesia, but because it was backed with real cash – US $ 20 billion ($ 27 billion) in private and public funding to help stop deforestation and protect forests.
These promises, which come on top of the surprising announcement by India that it would reach net zero emissions by 2070 and build 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel energy by 2030, made some delegates breathe a sigh of relief.
Ambitious goals are still possible
Mohamed Nasheed, a former Maldives president and ambassador to a bloc of nations at the COP known as the Climate Vulnerable Forum, said he believed the conference’s main goal of securing promises from governments was in line with the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious goal of keeping the heating to 1.5 degrees was now in sight.
Rachel Kyte, a former UN climate envoy, was more reticent in her assessment, but said the three promises represented real momentum.
Boris Johnson, who as COP host has become its top cheerleader, also claimed to have “cautious optimism” because of the promises.
The Chinese leader’s decision, Xi Jinping, not to participate, the distraction of COVID-19 and Biden’s difficulties in adopting a domestic climate package had led some to fear that the COP could end in absolute failure. That worry seemed to ebb a bit out Tuesday afternoon.
The adhesion points
With the majority of world leaders now leaving Glasgow, delegates, diplomats and staff will begin the arduous task of negotiating how to finance the $ 100 billion ($ 134.6 billion) of a year in which the rich world promised developing economies Paris can be secured and redeemed.
The issue has been raised repeatedly by developing countries in speeches over the last two days. According to Kyte, the non-fulfillment of the promise has broken confidence in the complicated negotiations of the Paris process.
Although it will be resolved in the coming days, the damage has been done, she said.
How this promise can be fulfilled and then updated will be a central focus of the negotiations on the third day of the conference, but not the only one.
Negotiators at COP26 also need to address how to finance the costs of climate loss and damage – predicted to be somewhere between US $ 290 and US $ 580 billion annually in developing countries alone by 2030.
Another key set of negotiations will address the rules that will govern the global carbon market, which was agreed in Paris in 2015. These negotiations began in Poland in 2018, but went slow and stalled when the pandemic hit.
Torment and anger
And although some found cause for hope on the sidelines of the COP on Day 2, on the main stage, the leaders’ speeches continued. In some, the anxiety and anger were alive.
“We see the scorching sun giving us unbearable heat, the warm ocean invading us, and the wind blowing us all the way,” said Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. “We see that the scorching sun gives us unbearable heat, the warming of the sea invades us, and the winds blow us all the way.
“Honestly, there is no dignity to a slow and painful death – you might as well bomb our islands instead of making us suffer just to witness our slow and painful death.
“Leaders of the G20, we are drowning, and our only hope is the livelihood you hold. You must act now, we must act together.”
Get daily updates on the climate summit that will shape our future. Sign up for our COP26 newsletter here.