THE United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, was concluded last Saturday, November 13. As expected, the results of the conference elicited varied reactions from different groups. Greta Thunberg dismissed the climate summit as more “blah, blah, blah,” meaning it’s all talk and no action. Greta is an 18-year old Swedish environmental activist who is known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation.
The agreements made in COP26 was contained in a 10-page document called the Glasgow Climate Pact. An advance version of the draft can be accessed at https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2021_L16_adv.pdf. Nearly 200 countries approved the pact after several days of negotiations. It is not legally binding but it sets the agenda on climate change for the next decade.
One of the highlights of the Glasgow Climate Pact was the mention for the first time of the role of fossil fuels in the climate crisis, something which was not done in the Paris Agreement. The pact calls for the phasing down of unabated coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. This can be found in line 36 of the advance draft copy.
However, India and China, both among the world’s biggest users of coal, raised a last-minute change of fossil fuel language in the pact. The two countries insisted on the change of fossil fuel language in the pact from a “phase out” of coal to a “phase down.” In the advanced version of the draft, it was still unedited because the word used in line 36 was still “phase out.”
Defending their stance, Bhupender Yadav, the Union Cabinet Minister of Labour and Employment, Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India, said developing countries deserve a chance to use fossil fuels to bolster their economies since developed countries have already done so.
The Philippines, also a developing country, and despite its heavy reliance on coal, announced in an international forum on October 27, 2020 through Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, that it will no longer approve applications for construction of new coal-fired power plants.
The current energy mix in terms of generation of the Philippines as of 2020 according to the Department of Energy is coal (57.2 percent), natural gas (19.2 percent), oil-based (2.4 percent), geothermal (10.6 percent), hydro (7.1 percent), biomass(1.2 percent), solar (1.3 percent) and wind (1.0 percent). Note that the shares of solar and wind are still very small.
As a country that will be one of the most affected by climate change, another item of interest to the Philippines in the COP26 is funding. The agreement falls short of setting up a fund to compensate countries for climate-linked loss and damage. The G-77 group of developing countries expressed “extreme disappointment” at this omission. The G77 is a coalition of 134 developing countries, designed to promote its members' collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations. The Philippines is a member and was its Chairman in 1995.
November 18, 2021
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