5 things to watch in 2022 to see if the global climate agreement will

How a lot the world achieved at the Glasgow climate talks—and what occurs now—relies upon largely on the place you reside.

In island nations which are dropping their properties to sea stage rise, and in different extremely weak international locations, there have been bitter capsules to swallow after global commitments to reduce emissions fell far short of the goal to maintain global warming to 1.5 levels Celsius (2.7 levels Fahrenheit).

For big middle-income international locations, like India and South Africa, there have been indicators of progress on investments wanted for growing clear power.

In the developed world, international locations nonetheless have to internalize, politically, that payments are coming due—each at house and overseas—after a long time of delaying motion on climate change. The longer the delay, the tougher the transition will be.


There have been additionally indicators of hope as coalitions of corporations, governments, and civil society and Indigenous peoples teams pressured progress on points, reminiscent of stopping deforestation, cutting methane, ending coal use, and boosting zero-emissions vehicles. Now, these guarantees have to be acted upon.

As a former senior UN official, I’ve been concerned in the climate negotiations for a number of years. Listed here are 5 key parts to watch in the coming yr as international locations transfer ahead on their guarantees.

Bending the curve to 1.5 levels Celsius

Going into the Glasgow summit, international locations’ commitments had put the world on a trajectory of warming about 2.9 degrees Celsius this century, effectively past the 1.5 diploma Celsius purpose and into ranges of warming that will convey dangerous climate impacts. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement in the first days (a lot to the shock of Indian observers) that India would attain internet zero emissions by 2070 and generate 50% of its power from renewables by 2030 helped lower that trajectory to 2.4 degrees Celsius.

International locations agreed to return for the next round of climate talks in November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, with stronger commitments to put the world on observe for 1.5 levels Celsius.

The Climate Motion Tracker estimates the global common temperature enhance based mostly on nationwide insurance policies. [Image: New Climate Institute and Climate Analytics]

That turns the highlight again on nationwide motion. China reminded everybody, whereas throwing shade at the U.S., that targets have to be backed with plans for implementation. U.S. Cupboard members and Congressional leaders had a lot to say in Glasgow about being “again,” after the earlier administration withdrew from the Paris climate agreement. But that they had little to supply by way of the U.S. share of the finance, and the world forged a anxious eye over its continued partisan politics.

Extra South Africa offers, please

Whereas all international locations are necessary for reaching the world’s climate targets, some are extra necessary than others.


International locations which are excessive emitters and closely depending on coal will be a spotlight of worldwide consideration in the coming months, not simply to phase down coal, however importantly to fund a simply transition to inexperienced sources of power and the obligatory electrical energy infrastructure, too.

The poster baby for this method is South Africa, the place a presidential commission has labored for 3 years to develop a simply transition plan and has been able to attract $8.5 billion from the U.Ok., the EU, the U.S. and others to assist them execute it. That, coupled with ensures and different monetary assist that would assist draw additional non-public funding, might change into a replicable mannequin.

The important thing was nationwide possession. In the yr forward, search for plans to come collectively in Indonesia and Vietnam and different international locations needing to quick ahead away from coal.

Getting climate finance flowing

Many growing international locations have already got nationwide platforms to ship on their commitments, however all through Glasgow’s convention halls, officers complained that finance wasn’t flowing to assist them succeed.

This isn’t only a climate-finance drawback. Many international locations are additionally going through financial disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and have chafed at the approach worldwide monetary establishments fail to deal with problems with entry to finance and commerce. Superior economies didn’t come to Glasgow prepared to present even the $100 billion a yr in finance promised a decade ago, which shrank the touchdown zone for agreement on all points.

The Chinese language calculate the value of growth misplaced by means of a couple of measures, reminiscent of floods and warmth. Unsurprisingly it quantities to trillions of {dollars}. It might be a helpful train each time a authorities balks at the “price” of climate motion.

In the finish, governments agreed to attain the $100 billion annual climate finance goal inside the subsequent two years and agreed that adaptation funding ought to double. However with the UN Atmosphere Programme estimating that adaptation funds will need to quadruple by 2030 from at present’s $70 billion, there’s a great distance to go.

The Glasgow Climate Pact additionally criticized the conventional channels of public funds that set the circumstances for finance to movement, together with the Worldwide Financial Fund and the World Financial institution. Search for G7 and G20 international locations, the largest shareholders of those establishments, to look at how they are often managed in another way to reply to the climate emergency. All eyes are on Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, present president of the G20 and an skilled central banker. Actions might vary from bolstering the Climate Investment Funds, managed by the World Financial institution, and loosening the phrases and circumstances of the IMF’s proposed administration of the reallocation of special drawing rights, to incentives to leverage more private funds and take extra danger.

Finance pledges and cries of “greenwashing”

In the first week of Glasgow, the titans of the monetary business heralded the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero—the dedication by monetary establishments representing $130 trillion in belongings to speed up the transition to a net-zero emissions financial system. The shifts inside monetary markets away from publicity to carbon emissions was palpable. However with out extra element, the announcement attracted cries of “greenwashing.”

Organizers of the alliance will want to work onerous to maintain members to account, and throw out these nonetheless underwriting the coal business, for instance. The precept of getting everybody pledged and in the tent after which making them enhance has been used earlier than, for instance, the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative. However this solely works with transparency, and buried amongst the press releases was their report that, of the marketed $57 trillion of the initiative’s belongings beneath administration, solely an estimated 35% is actually in line with internet zero.

The UN secretary-general announced an expert group to suggest clear requirements for corporations and others making internet zero commitments, partly in response to furor round greenwashing. That group is anticipated to report again in 2022. At the coronary heart of Glasgow was a brand new seriousness round transparency, credibility, integrity, and accountability. Watch this unfold on this coming yr.


The third leg of a wobbly stool: loss and injury

Climate motion is a three-legged stool—mitigation, adaptation, and loss and injury.

Loss and injury was talked about an unprecedented 12 occasions in the final Glasgow texts, however with out commitments to funding or mechanisms to safe funding. Loss and injury, or reparations, may be understood this manner: You broke it (or endangered it), you pay for it. However, afraid of lawsuits in international courts—which the U.S. doesn’t belong to—or afraid of the prices, developed international locations have opposed progress on the situation lately.

Growing international locations left Glasgow disenchanted, however there was no escaping the debate. Look ahead to a design of a mechanism to assist pay for loss and injury, and plans to begin funding it. With the subsequent yr’s UN climate convention in Africa, this will transfer middle stage.

There’s a Scottish proverb, “Fools look to tomorrow, smart males [sic] use tonight.” There have been smart individuals in Glasgow, and fools too. However there’s not an evening to lose in the yr forward.