Glasgow: Delegates from around the world hammered out a number of agreements in the first week of COP26, an international summit where global leaders are attempting to limit the climate crisis.
There were a few breakthroughs, but some experts warn the deals may not meet the urgency of the moment. Specifically, experts are concerned they won’t get the world closer to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“There’s a lot of big statements, which don’t have the details underneath: exactly when, how much, who’s going to do what,” said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics with the World Resources Institute.
“I think what we can say pretty confidently though, is that, no, they don’t get us far enough,” she said. “It’s not going to be keeping us under that 1.5 degrees Celsius global temperature rise.”
The first substantial deal announced at COP26 last week was significant, after years of negotiations on how to protect forests.
More than 100 countries — including Brazil — that represent more than 85% of the planet’s forests committed on Tuesday to end and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, with 12 governments promising $12 billion of public funds and $7.2 billion of private investment.
The deal is consequential. Forests, when they are logged or degrade, can emit carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, accounting for around 11% of the world’s total CO2 emissions. It’s a fairly comprehensive deal, including key nations with some of the world’s largest carbon stocks locked away in tropical forests.
Reality check: On the whole, this deal is a breakthrough after fragmented agreements have come and gone over the years.
The question now is whether countries will actually do what they signed up for, and whether, in the next week, negotiators can build in a system of accountability.
The environment minister in Indonesia, which is home to some of the world’s most carbon-rich tropical forests, said on Wednesday that it was “unfair” to expect Indonesia to stop clearing forests for development.
“If the concept is that there is no deforestation, it means that there should be no roads, then what about the people, should they remain isolated?” Siti Nurbaya Bakar wrote on Twitter.
Other forest-rich nations that have seen former deals break down are also skeptical.
“The developed world has not kept its promise to support an impactful, working mechanism under the Paris Agreement to reward rainforest nations from accomplished rainforest preservation and carbon reductions,” Kevin Conrad, founder of the Coalition for Rainforest Nations.