Notice: The weather protection glass is half full, not half empty | Reviews | DW
Was this a good or a bad climate conference that we just saw in Glasgow? Opinions about it are as varied as the conference itself was chaotic and opaque. Never before, say scientists, has the gap between the measures needed to stem climate change and the slow pace of action taken by states been as wide as it is today. And the pressure on them to act is also greater than it has ever been. The global climate protection movement Fridays for Future, for its part, has made its presence felt strongly in Glasgow.
Getting rid of coal on the agenda for the first time
The final conference declaration, a first for any United Nations climate meeting, expressly mentions the need to phase out fossil-fuel-based energy sources quickly, even though the way this has been worded has been continuously worded. watered down at the behest of wealthy and newly industrialized nations. .
Jens Thurau was in Glasgow for DW
Poor countries have been promised that financial assistance from richer countries in the North to help them adapt to the effects of climate change will be doubled in just a few years. After months of stubbornly icy relations, the United States and China, the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, have come together to issue a joint statement, vowing to redouble their efforts.
The goal of preventing the Earth from warming more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century is now the measure of all things; Nobody talks about the 2-degree objective, which was previously at the center of debates on climate policy. This is an almost breathtaking advance given the resolutions taken at previous climate meetings.
But not in light of the realities we face. Scientists say the decade leading up to 2030 will be decisive in the fight against global warming. The British hosts of the conference reacted to this prognosis by pushing through a whole series of initiatives by individual nations during the days in Glasgow: to limit methane greenhouse gas emissions, to protect forests in countries poor, to end fossil fuel subsidies – all before 2030.
However, on closer inspection, all these initiatives are still proving to be voluntary and non-binding, just like the resolutions announced by the climate conference.
Reliability and Confidence
All climate talks are about reliability and trust. Resolutions can hardly be enforced by legal means; their goal is always to generate positive momentum and something like common support from all the 90 or so member states of the UN. And they aim to lobby rich countries, whose citizens view climate change with growing concern.
But confidence is lacking. During the pandemic, the poor countries of the Global South saw exactly with what dizzying amounts the industrialized nations were supporting their economies. This makes it even harder for them to admit that the wealthy North tends to be stingy when it comes to long-promised financial assistance to help them adapt to climate change.
The exit from coal and reality
And even though the phase-out of fossil fuels was adopted at the climate conference, a review of the situation on the ground in countries like China, South Africa, Poland and even Germany shows how much influence the coal lobby still has. China is now promising to become climate neutral by 2060 – a delay that is laughable given warnings from experts.
But a real alternative to the arduous and grueling annual climate meetings is simply not in sight. It is only up to them that all the member states of the United Nations discuss the subject among themselves. And perhaps the common line they all seek could be summed up as follows: In as many countries as possible, the fight against greenhouse gases must assume a status similar to that of concern for economic growth.
Growth and sustainability have long ceased to be contradictory; it is only a question of will. And action, like ditching fossil fuels – and ditching it quickly. At least the Glasgow conference agreed on that.
Germany is also facing increasing pressure to speed up its phase-out from coal-fired power, which the former government planned to complete by 2038. To do anything else would now mean breaking commitments made in Glasgow.
And poor countries will not put up with annual conferences any longer if they do not receive significantly more money. For all these reasons, if I had to decide whether the International Climate Protection glass is half full or half empty after Glasgow, I would say: half full.
This article was translated from German.