COP26 agreement ‘timid step forward’, EP Socialists say

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The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament described the conclusions of the COP26 climate conference as a timid step forward in the right direction, expressing regret that big players shied away from taking onboard more ambitious commitments.

In a statement in reaction to the conclusion of the summit, Socialists expressed satisfaction at the fact that all major actors and big countries have realised the need for urgent action: the EU has its Climate Law and the Green Deal; President Joe Biden has taken the US back into the Paris Agreement; China has promised to peak its emissions; and India has increased its ambitions for renewable energy by 2030. “It cannot be judged other than positive the fact that, eventually, the US and China now want to work together on climate change”, the Socialists said.

The United Nations climate change conference concluded on Saturday after a one-day extension, with negotiators agreeing on a new global pact to tackle climate change. Nearly 200 participating countries adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact at the end of 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

An agreement was finally reached on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which relates to carbon market mechanisms, paving the way for the effective implementation of the Paris deal to cut emissions through market-based approaches. Negotiators also agreed to phase down coal, the dominant source of carbon dioxide emissions in the process of electricity generation. It is the first explicit mention of fossil fuels in a COP agreement.

“It is crucially important that many countries have committed to a 30% reduction in methane emissions by 2030, phasing out coal power by 2030 in developed countries and by 2040 in developing ones, to stop deforestation by 2030, and to phase out fossil-fuelled cars by 2035 in developed countries and by 2040 in developing States”, the Socialists said.

At the same time, the S&D Groupp lamented the fact that key players opted out of important decisions. “The US and China should join the agreements concerning, for example, methane and the phasing out of fossil-fuelled vehicles; China should stop the development of coal power; India must become net zero long before 2070; while Australia and Brazil must raise their ambitions from 2015; and Saudi Arabia cannot slow down the whole world in the issue of fossil fuels.”

Maltese MEP Cyrus Engerer, S&D member in the environment committee called for stronger commitments by the richest countries on climate financing for adaptation measures and loss and damage. “The countries that are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change have been calling for the need to address the social and economic costs of climate change for decades. It is time for the rich, developed and biggest global emitters across history to stop dragging their feet and address the issue of loss and damage”, Engerer said. “We need to protect those communities, and natural habitats, who are suffering the worst consequences of climate change and who have done the least to cause it. It is high time for polluters to pay up. We must not stand for climate injustice!”

This article reflects comments by the S&D group, with additional reporting on the event through Reuters.

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