Gloom deepened today around the UN CoP26 negotations beginning next week in Glasgow, with revelations of a serious overshoot in CO2 emissions and a serious undershoot in money.
The World Meteorlogical Organization, a branch of the UN, confirmed yesterday that CO2 concentrations set new records in the world’s atmosphere in 2020, despite Covid-19 forcing global lockdowns and slowed output from industry.
Carbon dioxide reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere last year, 49% above levels for the gas seen before the Industrial Revolution began in the mid-eighteenth century. It is only five years since CO2 broke the global 400ppm barrier.
Concentrations of methane and of nitrous oxide too now stand 262% and 123% respectively above levels when humanity started exerting our climate-heating influence on nature.
“We are way off track”, WMO secretary-general Prof. Petteri Taalas reported.
“At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase (by 2100) far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5°C to 2°C above pre-industrial levels”.
At the same time, news broke that rich nations are at least two years behind schedule in honouring a promise collectively to provide $100 billion per year to help poorer nations fight climate heating.
The UK hosts of next week’s Glasgow CoP26 conference published details of the shortfall via its shaping Climate Finance Delivery Plan.
Established in 2009’s CoP in Copenhagen, the $100 billlion a year target was expected to be met by G7 nations by last year. Yesterday’s document says 2023 is now the earliest date for it to be achieved.
Private negotiations had been proceeding between governments around the target. Recent failures by the USA, Italy and Australia to increase their ‘nationally determined contributions’ or NDCs were seen as scuppering progress.
The Johnson administration’s decision in July to cut overseas aid to 0.5% of GDP, down from the 0.7% recommended by the UN, was seen as another block, boding ill for the Glasgow talks. On BBC radio this morning, Lord Deben, Conservative peer and chairman of the Climate Change Committee condemned Johnson’s cut as ‘morally wrong’.
CoP26 chair and former D-BEIS secretary Ashok Sharma hailed the finance delivery plan as postively as he could.
“Scaling up climate finance has been one of my top priorities as COP President,” he said.
“This plan recognises progress, based on strong new climate finance commitments. There is still further to go, but this Delivery Plan, alongside the robust methodological report from the OECD, provides clarity, transparency and accountability.