COP26: what is the surprise deal announced by the United States and China?

the essential This Wednesday 10 November, the United States and China, in a joint declaration, committed to getting more involved in the fight against global warming. Two days before the end of the COP 10, they did not give the details of the measures announced.

Surprise deal. Two days before the end of the COP 10, China and the United States, the world’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases, announced on Wednesday 10 November a surprise agreement, reviving hopes two days before the end of this crucial climate conference.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, host of the Glasgow conference, had barely appealed for a “strong impetus” in the talks, assuring that there would be “no excuses” for failing, when Beijing and Washington announced a “joint statement on strengthening climate action.”

“This document contains strong statements about the alarming studies by scientists, the reduction of carbon emissions, and the urgent need to accelerate actions to achieve it,” US Special Envoy John Kerry told reporters. “He is committing to a series of important actions over this decade, when they are needed,” he added.

“Take reinforced measures “

“We can all embark on the path of green, low-carbon and sustainable development,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a virtual conference Thursday on the sidelines of the summit of the Forum. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), without explicitly mentioning this agreement.

In their joint declaration, the two main world powers, whose rivalry had seemed to spill over into climate diplomacy in recent months, pledge to do more to combat global warming, the consequences of which are increasingly being felt. across the world: droughts, floods, mega-fires, with their growing procession of victims and damage.

They promise, without very precise details, to “take reinforced measures to raise ambitions over the years 2020”, reaffirming their attachment to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, a limited warming “well below” 2 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era, and if possible to 1.5 ° C. However, according to the UN, the world is still on a “catastrophic” trajectory of 2.7 ° C warming, and the COP 26 is considered crucial for get the climate fight back on track.

Catastrophic warming

Beijing and Washington are also committed to working in Glasgow for “an ambitious, balanced and inclusive outcome on mitigation (lower emissions), adaptation and financial support” to poor countries. An agreement hailed as “an important step in the right direction” by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“Beyond the COP, it is important for the world”, for his part declared to AFP the vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans. Early Wednesday, after days of discussions, the British Presidency of the COP issued a first draft final declaration calling for a strengthening and accelerating the pace of commitments climate change in all countries to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

This text has provoked mixed reactions, especially from poor countries, which insist that the richest keep their aid promise. The project, which will still be the subject of negotiations and may change by the end of the COP (Conference of the Parties to the UN Climate Convention), scheduled for Friday but which may be extended, calls on countries to “revise and strengthen” from 2022 the national contributions (NDC) which set their short-term commitments.

The Paris Agreement of 2015 sets their review every five years, but many countries requested that they be reviewed more frequently. It is, according to the text, to make these commitments “compatible with the warming objectives of the Paris Agreement”, that is to say “well below” of + 2 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era, if possible + 1.5 ° C. Because the latest UN estimates are alarming with a world still on the path of a “catastrophic” warming of + 2.7 ° C by the end of the century.

“Far from the objectives”

The project also encourages countries to “accelerate the phase-out of coal and fossil fuel financing”. Such an explicit mention of fossil fuels, responsible for most emissions, is unprecedented, and does not appear in the Paris agreement in particular. But it promises to be bitterly contested until the conclusion of the final text, in particular by the producing countries.

On the burning issue of financing, the text “notes with regret” the failure of developed countries to keep their promise to mobilize from 2020 some 100 billions of dollars per year in climate assistance to poor countries. Often the least polluting, they are also the most exposed to the ravages of climate change, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Tuvalu Archipelago recalled, telling the delegates of the COP “we are sinking”, in a video filmed standing up to mid-thigh in the ocean.

The text does not put forward any concrete solution on financing, but calls for the strengthening of “adaptation” measures to the effects of climate change.

Adaptation currently only accounts for about a quarter of this aid, compared to 75% spent on reducing emissions. Poor countries demand at least parity. Regarding the other very controversial issue of “loss and damage” already suffered by the most exposed countries, the text “recognizes” the problem and its “urgency”. But there again without concrete modalities of action.

Negotiating groups from poor and emerging countries expressed almost unanimous concern during a meeting organized to gather initial reactions to the project. On the science side, Joeri Rogelj, member of the UN group of experts on the climate welcomed “progress”, but noted that the commitments were for the time being “far from the objectives of the Paris agreement”.

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