After two weeks of negotiations and protests featuring thousands of activists, the 2021 United Nations Climate Conference reached a consensus on November 12th through the Glasgow Climate Pact. Intending to create a system successful in limiting global emissions to 1.5 degrees celsius, the Glasgow Pact applies to almost 200 countries in the United Nations and is paving the way for climate progress across the globe.
There are multiple ideas featured throughout the pact that are groundbreaking for the United Nations. The document mentions the harmful effects of fossil fuels as the primary perpetrator of global warming, which the Paris Agreement previously failed to address. However, perhaps even more significantly, the pact calls for reduced coal use and the elimination of using “inefficient” fossil fuels.
Although some representatives had initially urged for a complete phaseout of coal usage, India and Iran objected to this statement, resulting in representatives agreeing to reduce it instead. Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav questioned during the conference, “How can anyone expect developing countries to make promises about phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies?”
Yadav further went on to inform that “subsidies provide much needed social security and support”, as many impoverished people in India use government-subsidized natural gas as the form of energy that cooks their food and heats their homes. His statements raise a critical question for people fighting against climate change: How will developing countries dependent on cheap energy switch to more expensive renewable energy sources?
Nevertheless, while there are plenty of unresolved issues on matters of global warming and the reduction of harmful emissions, the pact aims for improvements. In an important step towards curbing the impacts of climate change, the document calls for developed countries to increase their funding to developing countries, promoting renewable energy accessibility in countries facing financial struggles.
Twelve years prior, during the United Nations summit in Copenhagen, rich nations pledged to donate $100 billion annually to less fortunate countries to aid their movement towards reduced carbon emissions, but failed to fulfill this promise. Without significant funding, developing countries could not pursue renewable energy as their primary energy source.
As Ani Dasgupta, the president and CEO of the World Resources Institute, states, “It is inexcusable that developed countries failed to meet their commitment to deliver $100 billion annually starting in 2020, even as they provide hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for fossil fuels.” The Glasgow Pact calls for a doubling of funding for renewable energy in developing nations from 2019 to 2025, showing potential to improve previously unmet demands. However, countless individuals remain untrusting of the world leaders behind such decisions, many of whom consistently fail to generate changes.
The Glasgow Pact was met with particular distaste among climate activists protesting in Glasgow from December 31st to November 12th, as they felt excluded from the negotiations regarding climate change solutions. Given the previous failures from developed nations to uphold their ends of deals while contributing to pollution and substantial carbon emissions, numerous protesters were wary of agreements and skeptical about world leaders’ ability to incite change.
Among these climate activists were labor organizers, Black Lives Matter activists, advocates for the liberty of Indigenous peoples, and other political activist groups. During an event organized by the COP26 Coalition, a social justice group based in Britain, over 100,000 activists filled the streets of Glasgow despite rain and winds, fiercely demanding further change in government policies.
For the sake of the planet as we know it, world leaders must work to reduce the impacts of climate change. Although many controversies surround the conference, the Glasgow Climate Pact is a large advancement towards recognizing the importance of the climate crisis across the world.
Dewan, Angela. “Analysis: COP26 Ended with the Glasgow Climate Pact. Here's Where It Succeeded and Failed.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 Nov. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/14/world/cop26-glasgow-climate-pact-intl-cmd/index.html.
Frazin, Rachel. “Five Takeaways from the Glasgow Climate Pact.” The Hill, The Hill, 14 Nov. 2021, https://thehill.com/policy/equilibrium-sustainability/581477-five-takeaways-from-the-glasgow-climate-pact.
Kaplan, Sarah, et al. “At COP26, 100,000 March for Climate Justice.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 6 Nov. 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/11/06/cop26-climate-protests-live-updates/.
Timperley, Jocelyn. “The Broken $100-Billion Promise of Climate Finance - and How to Fix It.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 20 Oct. 2021, https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02846-3.
About the Author:
Nidhi Rao is a rising high school sophomore and the current secretary of her class. Since childhood, Nidhi has been passionate about gaining new perspectives on political issues and hopes to inform and inspire others by writing in The Alcott Youth Magazine. Additionally, she is interested in painting, hiking, kayaking, reading, and listening to music.