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CO2 emissions to rebound as COP26 sees fossil fuel cutting pledges
Publicado: 04/11/2021

CO2 emissions to rebound as COP26 sees fossil fuel cutting pledges

Glasgow (AFP) -

Global CO2 emissions are set to rebound to pre-pandemic levels next year, according to an assessment published Thursday ahead of a landmark agreement by leading economies to end direct finance for overseas fossil fuel projects by 2022.

The grim emissions assessment was billed as a 'reality check' for nations gathered at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, seen as a last chance to halt catastrophic climate change.

Moderate progress this week was checked by the release of the Global Carbon Project's annual report, which showed that emissions from gas and coal will rise in 2021 by more than they dropped during the pandemic.

It suggested CO2 emissions could eclipse the 40-billion tonne record set in 2019, which some have predicted -- and many hoped -- would be a peak.

China alone will account for 31 percent of global emissions this year as it seeks to power its economy past Covid-19, the report said.

'This report is a reality check,' co-author Corinne Le Quere, a professor of climate change science at Britain's University of East Anglia, told AFP.

'It shows what's happening in the real world while we are here in Glasgow talking about tackling climate change.'

- 'Right side of history' -

The report came as two pledges from nations and finance institutions opened a path to accelerated movement away from dirty energy.

Twenty countries, including major funders the United States and Canada, vowed to 'end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022'.

Unabated fossil fuel projects are those that do not deploy technology to absorb the carbon pollution they produce.

Analysts said the decision could see more than $15 billion annually channelled away from coal, oil and gas and into green energy instead.

China, South Korea and Japan -- all major overseas fossil fuel funders -- did not sign on, even though these countries have separately made similar pledges.

While ending international funding is seen as a boost to the COP26 summit and key to keeping the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared pre-industrial levels, even more crucial is quickly drawing down domestic use of coal, by far the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Host Britain announced that more than 40 countries had signed up to a commitment to phase out coal use within their borders within decades.

Among the signatories were South Korea, Indonesia and Poland -- all among the top ten globally in terms of coal-fired power capacity.

COP26 organisers say that 23 countries had promised for the first time to end their coal use, though several of these nations, including Poland, do in fact have pre-standing phase-out commitments.

Earlier this week more than 100 countries agreed to slash their emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by at least 30 percent this decade.

However, China and India -- the first and fourth largest greenhouse gas emitters, respectively -- have not signed up to either pledge.

Human-generated methane emissions come mainly from gas leaks, the cattle industry, landfills and agriculture.

G20 nations last month agreed to end financial support for new unabated coal plants abroad, but Thursday's commitment is the first of its kind to include oil and gas projects as well.

- 'Shut off the spigot' -

The International Energy Agency has said that there can be no new fossil fuel projects -- domestic or overseas -- from today to keep the 1.5C goal in play.

Recent research by Oil Change International showed that between 2018 and 2020, the G20 funded overseas fossil fuel projects to the tune of nearly $200 billion, mainly through multilateral development banks.

'Last year at this time I would not have thought we would see countries commit to ending billions of dollars in support for international fossil fuel projects,' said Kate DeAngelis, international finance program manager at Friends of the Earth US.

'While this is welcome progress, countries, especially the US, must hold firm to these commitments, shutting off the spigot to fossil fuel companies.'

Thousands of delegates from nearly 200 nations are in Glasgow to make progress on the Paris Agreement goals.

They face painstaking negotiations over emissions reductions, providing financial support for climate-vulnerable nations, and finalising rules over carbon markets and a unified 'stocktake' of national carbon-cutting plans.

Finance is an especially big bone of contention, with nations already dealing with supercharged drought and flooding demanding wealthy emitters provide money and expertise to help them to green their grids and adapt to climate change.

On Thursday the UN said that developing countries need up to 10 times more funding than currently available levels.

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