Is the UK government preparing to serve the world a bullshit burger –

how all-dressed could it be?

Felix von Geyer – Glasgow

As a new unbracketed text awaits to be served, its nutritional value remains to be seen.

“My trust has been shattered,” Kenya’s Environment Minister told the plenary as he referred to the ‘regret’ clause expressed within the text over developed countries’ collective failure to deliver on the 2009 Copenhagen pledge to provide developing countries the $100 billion per year by 2020 for them to address mitigation and adaptation.

Instead developing countries are told this will probably transpire by 2023 with $500 billion to follow as of 2025. 

In a speech reminiscent of the late black intellectual James Baldwin, Kenya reminded developed countries of the responsibility as G20 nations produce eighty per cent of the world’s emissions but “they are pushing us about more ambition,” he concluded.

The plenary had started positively with the Russian Federation asking for consistency between common timeframes and emissions ambition, Korea strongly believing “we are very close” and Canada’s new environment minister Steven Guilbeault admitting his country had not previously been “exemplary” within these corridors, he added that carbon pricing “isn’t enough… my country is the very incarnation of why we need strong language,” he said before concluding that Canada believed there is a “landing zone on Loss and Damage” and that Canada “strongly supports strong language on indigenous people and human rights.”

Equity over previous action and carbon credits was expressed by Papua New Guinea’s negotiator, Kevin Conrad from the Coalition of Rainforest Nations in lieu of the treatment Brazil is receiving over carry-over of old Clean Development Mechanism carbon credits while Peru urged transparency and a new facility for Loss and Damage – a UNFCCC term that in insurance parlance would be compensation and liability.

But the main interventions belonged to the EU’s Frans Timmermans who declared that “This is personal; this is not about politics,” referring to his grandson who will be 31 in 2050 and who will be fighting for water and food if urgent action is not imminent.

Timmermans called for negotiators to leave Glasgow “without subsidies for fossil fuels” a call echoed by Costa Rica as oil-producing nation Saudi Arabia described the ambition of keeping 1.5 degrees alive a “no-brainer” while the Marshall Islands said “1.5 is not negotiable” and that Article 6 on carbon markets must deliver “real reductions”.

The need to scale-up financing for mitigation and adaptation as well as Loss and Damage is synonymous with calls to eliminate fossil fuel subsides that United States’ Special Envoy john Kerry said had been worth $2.5 trillion over the previous five years, the time-scale since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

“This is fact-based. If we miss 1.5 in the next ten years, we will miss net zero by 2050,” he said calling for the removal of subsidies for “unabated coal.”

He supported a new facility for Loss and Damage and greater transparency and that any package would require environmental integrity, strong baselines and be protective of human rights and indigenous peoples.

“It is not words but actions in the next few years,” said Kerry. “If it is existential, we cannot say it is existential but must act as though it is existential,” he declared.

However, with issues remaining over loss and damage, mitigation and adaptation, financing, strong language on ambition to keep 1.5 alive and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as well as transparency, the capacity of COP President Alok Sharma, known by his friends as No Drama Sharma as he told journalists Thursday, remains to b e seen.

Yet a curious online background briefing by his UK government lead advisor Camilla Born Friday night to a select group of journalists in place of an open press conference that had earlier been pulled, raise suspicions as to whether the UK may yet play a blame game if a substantial package is not delivered here in Glasgow.

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