Will Glasgow Summit unite rich and poor countries in the fight against global climate change?

Rich countries should pay for the transition of the poor to green energy

On October 31, the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention started in Glasgow (Scotland). This is an annual event held under the auspices of the United Nations. The meeting in Glasgow is notable for that it will summarise the first results of the implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The participants of the two-week forum will have to agree on how to accelerate the implementation of this agreement and switch to green energy. Artur Safiullin, columnist for Realnoe Vremya, found out what to expect from the forum, what tasks the participants face. And the main question that needs to be answered is how to motivate poor countries to take more decisive steps, whether this will combine financial incentives with a tough sanctions policy.

What's on the agenda

In the first two days, the leaders of the G20 countries will hold personal meetings: they will discuss the implementation of the main points of the Paris Agreement. These are the following:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • increasing the production of renewable energy;
  • keeping global temperature growth at the current level;
  • allocating funds to poor countries to combat climate change.

To avoid even more warming, global carbon emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030, but an analysis of the activities of more than 100 countries shows that emissions, on the contrary, will increase by 16% by that time. There is a very negative trend that will be very difficult to reverse.

It should be noted that the time for the summit is not the best — countries are now more concerned about the fight against coronavirus and the consequences of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. An ironic addition to the general set of problems was the energy crisis in Europe and other regions of the world due to the too rapid transition to renewable energy sources and the rejection of traditional hydrocarbon sources.

To avoid even more warming, global carbon emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030. Photo: news.un.org

But changes in the global climate are becoming more noticeable — in 2021, we observed extreme temperatures in North America (below 50 degrees), torrential rains and flooding in China and Europe, Taiwan has had the worst drought in the last 50 years, we had an unprecedented hot summer in Russia. And there are a lot of such examples in the world. This is a truly global problem, and it can only be solved by joint efforts.

But, as always, any plans that look great on paper stumble at the execution stage. Economic reasons always prevail over the somewhat ephemeral agenda of the fight against global climate change.

What to expect

According to the organisers of the summit, its main goal is to complete the adoption of the rules of the Paris Club related to international cooperation on projects and non-market interactions, and to agree on the parameters of assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable countries. But on the eve of the summit, developing countries outlined their demands.

  • Wealthier countries should allocate funds for the implementation of the pledged solutions — to fully finance all initiatives, and this is about $100 billion annually.
  • Developed countries are obliged to pay compensation for the damage that has already been inflicted on the economies of developing countries by global warming.
  • The transition of the economies of developing countries to green energy is paid for at the expense of developed countries.
Transition of the economies of developing countries to green energy is paid for at the expense of developed countries. Photo: news.un.org

The requirements are serious. But it is very far away even from the annual allocation of such amounts — there were plans to allocate a total of $100 billion to developing economies by 2020 for these purposes, but at the moment, only $ 79 billion has been collected. Moreover, most of these funds are not given out free of charge in the form of grants, but are issued as loan obligations — they will have to be paid back! But how? For example, Kyrgyzstan is unable to pay loans at all, grants for the adaptation of water management, healthcare and agriculture are more relevant for this country. According to experts, financing the fight against climate change in developing countries will be the most important topic of discussion at the summit.

There are questions to everyone. Including to Russia

Undoubtedly, accusations of China's unwillingness to enter the race for carbon neutrality will continue — this country, according to many, will try not to take on real obligations. China's new goals are not much different from those laid down in the Paris Agreements, which seems to be marking time. China is going to reach the peak of its emissions by 2030 and neutrality by 2060. And it is given the size of production facilities in this country, it is still necessary to support their efforts, instead of unconstructive criticism.

India is not going to make any commitments on emissions at all, referring to the status of a developing economy. Along with African countries, it is not able to achieve carbon neutrality on its own. They all depend on international assistance. Here everything depends on how quickly developed countries will allocate funds. They, as locomotives of industrial development, are obliged to finance the damage that they have already caused with their productions in the past. Now, having transferred them to developing countries, many of them are ready to wash their hands and create their own ecological “paradise” in each individual country. This is not how it works, because the atmosphere of the planet is a system of communicating vessels, and if there is a loss somewhere, it will definitely be a gain at other place.

There are also claims to our country — dependence on fossil energy sources and underestimation of the harm of emissions. It is difficult to disagree with the second argument, since climate problems have no weight in the minds of our fellow citizens, many treat this problem as a conspiracy and a pseudoscientific phenomenon.

There are also claims to our country — dependence on fossil energy sources and underestimation of the harm of emissions. Photo: pravdapfo.ru

As for the first argument, our huge reserves of natural gas and its use in generating electricity will allow us to go through the so-called “transition period” painlessly, since natural gas is considered the cleanest fossil fuel. What will happen next remains an open question. In terms of emissions, a very serious reduction in industrial production after the collapse of the USSR plays into our hands. Judge for yourself — greenhouse gas emissions have decreased to 70% of the level in 1990. Experiments are being conducted to achieve neutrality in certain regions of the country. It cannot be said that nothing is being done, it is not. But a radical change of people's consciousness is necessary, the future of descendants is in our hands, and it's time for us to realise this.

In conclusion, I would like to note that the Glasgow summit may turn into a failure — there is a high probability that the participants will come to nothing or discuss all aspects of Article 6 of the Paris Agreements, which prescribe different types of accounting for greenhouse emissions, and will go home. But ideally, trade quotas for emissions, “green” financing, assistance to developing countries, the mandatory implementation of the so-called NDC (nationally determined contributions to global measures to reduce emissions) should be discussed. Hopefully, the participants will deal with the technical aspects of climate policy. A lot has been said, it's time to get down to practical implementation!

Artur Safiulin

The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.