UN virtual climate negotiations miss common ground
THE three weeks virtual talks of UN subsidiary bodies have failed to clear the decks ahead of the major COP26 gathering in Glasgow in November, reported the BBC.
Technical glitches and multiple time zones scuppered attempts to find common ground, and little progress has been made on key issues, it added.
This virtual gathering was the first significant meeting of UN negotiators since December 2019, when COP25 ended in Madrid.
The meeting failed to find a way forward on a number of important technical questions including the role of carbon markets in curbing climate change, the BBC report said.
“I think this was technically challenging for many parties, connectivity problems compounded and complicated the trust deficits that exist,” said Quamrul Chowdhury, a climate negotiator from Bangladesh, told BBC News.
“Even the low-hanging fruits couldn’t be harvested.”
As well as the technical challenges, there were issues with access for observers with China objecting to their presence at talks on transparency.
UK minister Alok Sharma will preside over the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
“The past three weeks have made one thing very clear – the most dangerous stumbling blocks on the road to COP26 are political, not technical,” Jennifer Tollmann, a senior policy advisor at environmental think-tank E3G, told the broadcaster.
“Parties know each others’ positions, it’s the will to find compromise options that drive ambition that’s frequently missing.”
“Covid-19 remains a serious concern for many of us, and travel restrictions continue for many countries,” said Ambassador Diann Black-Layne of Antigua and Barbuda, who is a lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States.
“A significant portion of our membership face onerous travel restrictions regardless of their personal vaccination status. Some islands in the Pacific have just two flights per month, with one month of quarantine, while other islands still have closed borders. This will not change unless their entire populations have vaccine access.”
But UK minister Alok Sharma, who will chair the global gathering, told a news conference that delegates unable to get jabs from their own countries “will get support from us”.
He said that he hopes to speed up the climate talks process by hosting a ministerial meeting in London in July with representatives from about 40 countries.
According to the report, the richer nations have promised $100 billion a year in climate finance from 2020, but have still not succeeded in raising that total.
Harjeet Singh of Climate Action Network International told the BBC: “History will not be kind to rich nations if they do not step up and fulfill their climate action commitments. We are already at a point where the world faces multiple crises, and the reality is that the rich world are offering a bandage when surgery is needed.”