COP26 deal ‘falls far short’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned of an impending “climate catastrophe”, while environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg dismissed the COP26 climate conference deal as “blah, blah, blah”.

Rich countries stood accused of failing at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to deliver much-needed finance to vulnerable states at risk of drought, rising seas, fire and storms. (Reuters)

International bodies, climate activists and observers have said the COP26 agreement fell far short of what is needed to combat climate change and its impacts.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed the deal reached by nearly 200 nations to combat climate change, but stressed it was “not enough”.

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“Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread”, he warned, adding “we are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.”

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg said the talks had achieved nothing but “blah, blah, blah”, echoing earlier comments.

Amanda Mukwashi, CEO of Christian Aid, said “rich nations have kicked the can down the road and with it the promise of the urgent climate action people on the frontline of this crisis need.”

‘COP failed to provide assistance for people suffering’

Observers also said the agreement failed to help countries adapt or recoup damages from the disasters already unfurling globally.

Almost 200 nations accepted a compromise deal on Saturday aimed at keeping a key global warming target alive, but it contained a last-minute change that watered down crucial language about coal.

Several countries, including small island states, said they were deeply disappointed by the change promoted by India to “phase down,” rather than “phase out” coal power, the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, after resistance from rich nations led by the United States and EU, the text omitted any reference to a specific finance facility for the loss and damage climate change has already caused in the developing world. It instead only promised future “dialogue” on the subject.

Laurence Tubiana, the architect of the Paris deal, told AFP that “COP has failed to provide immediate assistance for people suffering now.”

‘An insult to millions of people

However, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose government hosted the talks, insisted the deal was a “big step forward” even if much more work needed to be done.

A statement from the European Commission said the deal, reached after two weeks of painful negotiation, had managed to keep “the Paris targets alive”.

This was echoed by Britain’s COP26 president Alok Sharma who described the compromise deal as a “fragile win”.

Teresa Anderson, climate policy coordinator at ActionAid International, said COP26 was “an insult to the millions of people whose lives are being torn apart by the climate crisis.”

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