12 Nov 2021

COP26: International carbon market talks stalling

6:33 pm on 12 November 2021

It is crunch time at the COP26 summit, and with one more day of official talks left there is plenty of pessimism among New Zealanders about the outcome.

Opening remarks during Global Climate Action High-Level Event: Racing To a Better World in Plenary Cairn Gorm in the COP26 venue - Scottish Event Campus during the twelfth day of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, held by UNFCCC in Glasgow, Scotland on November 11, 2021.

Day 12 of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo: AFP

Negotiators at COP26 are working feverishly, possibly all night, to hammer out agreements.

One of the few New Zealand reporters in Glasgow is Rod Oram, who said there was frustration in the corridors outside the negotiations rooms.

"Certainly, there's a fair degree of pessimism around on a whole number of issues."

He said parties in the talks on establishing international carbon markets have retrenched to similar positions staked out at previous rounds of negotiations where agreement failed.

About discussions on finance, adaptation and loss and damage - essentially about how much money rich countries owe poor ones in climate aid - he said: "Developing countries are angrier than ever about the inability of developed countries to come up with even small sums of money to help them."

He doubted there would be any large new pledges to cut emissions from countries.

Injy Johnstone is in Glasgow with the Young Kiwis in Climate contingent.

She said she would rather talks failed on international carbon markets - which would let countries sell surplus reductions - than a shabby deal pass.

"There's been some proposals from different parties ... but really damaging proposals.

"So here on the ground, we're really trying to focus on how to ensure environmental integrity in whatever proposal goes forward."

Incredibly, a draft agreement released yesterday for the first time ever explicitly mentioned fossil fuels.

But RNZ understands it almost certainly will not make it through to the final text - it will be torpedoed by Australia, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

There have been positives include pledges to slash methane emissions, end deforestation, phase out coal, and a surprising cooperation agreement between global giants China and the US.

Kera Sherwood-O'Regan, who is an Iwi Chairs Forum nominee in the New Zealand delegation in Glasgow, said there were always wins and loses at these events.

She said human rights, and the rights of indigenous and disabled people have gotten more play this summit - likely because of mahi from young Māori and Pasifika activists.

"I think there is definitely a much larger awareness at this COP and it's something that people are discussing a lot more including parties and negotiators, so I think that's really positive to see."

Nobody knows yet what will be in the final agreement, but even in the best case it will not come close to keeping within 1.5 degrees of warming - a core point of the summit.

But Massey University professor Ralph Sims said that did not mean the talks were pointless.

"Progress is step by step and we have to keep going forward. We have to keep having hope that we can manage the future climate because it will impact on everybody in the world in one way or another.

"Food shortages, water shortages, excess immigration, environmental refugees pouring into different countries, all of those sorts of things are what our children and our grandchildren will have to cope with.

"So you've got to have hope for these future generations.

"But certainly, the outcome of this conference isn't going to solve the problem. It's far more deep-seated and far more complex."

The summit is slated to end early Saturday morning New Zealand time, but could well drag on a day or more longer.

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