UN climate conference: the glass is half full


Status: 02.11.2021 5:25 p.m.

Many initiatives, few binding: this formula also applies in principle to the climate summit in Glasgow. And yet this time a new spirit and goodwill can be seen.

A comment by Werner Eckert, SWR, currently Glasgow

A few new commitments, loads of initiatives, and loads of dollars for climate protection. But yes, at least a better spirit is building up than you have already experienced at previous conferences. Above all, India’s announcement was certainly the surprise at the beginning. Even if the country does not want to be climate neutral until 2070: Firstly, it has embarked on the same path as the others and, secondly, there are a few other targets in the national statement that show that this is taken seriously.

This is significant because it could, in turn, force the other major emerging market, China, to act. Its head of state Xi Jinping – that was the disappointment so far – did not even send a video, but only a few thin accusatory words to Glasgow.

2.7 degrees instead of five to six

Light and shadow – but progress in international climate protection cannot be judged solely on the basis of the speeches of the politicians in Glasgow. Because the states have already made many announcements in the course of the year – the EU, the USA and Japan are just a few examples. And the conference series as such has already brought a lot: We were once on the way to five to six degrees higher temperatures and are now at 2.7 degrees with a clear tendency to improve. That’s not enough – but the famous half-full glass …

However, the political guidelines from the Paris Protocol also have other effects here in Glasgow. There are a lot of initiatives that should help put the whole thing into practice. For example, the cooperation with South Africa, where the EU, some member states, including Germany, the USA and Great Britain, want to support the country in phasing out coal. Or the methane initiative of the EU and the USA, in which 80 countries want to reduce methane emissions. If, above all, leaks in gas pipelines are sealed, it makes economic sense and is a blessing for the climate.

Binding goals only if you are seriously interested

However, the following applies to all of this: It is not binding. These are not decisions within the framework of the negotiations, but agreements on the margins. This also applies to Boris Johnson’s PR coup: the forest initiative that has now been launched. An important topic and a sensible path – but it is not the first attempt at such an offer to the wooded countries. These initiatives have regularly failed because the Bolsonaros of this world ended up taking the money without delivering their share.

These initiatives are important and the multitude of them shows that there is a will to make a difference. But only if the states also enter into binding climate protection goals will they have an interest in seriously participating.

Editorial note

Comments generally reflect the opinion of the respective author and not that of the editors.

Comment: COP26 -Better than expected?

Werner Eckert, SWR, 2.11.2021 · 6:10 p.m.


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