Morning broke in Glasgow with reassurances by the heir to the Liechtenstein throne that “every state can and must contribute, and so does Liechtenstein”. As the representative of a population smaller than Salisbury, Prince Alois didn’t enter COP26 with the media glare following Presidents Biden and Macron. Yet with its focus on forests and land use, the first half of Day 2 of COP was notable for the contributions from its smaller participating nations.
Increasingly unpredictable droughts, floods, storm damage, relentless sea level rises ─ outside the less affected G20 bubble, leaders from Tanzania to Costa Rica pinned their speeches to a lived reality. “I cannot [help] express my profound disappointment,” said Surinamese President Santokhi, “that neither the financial support nor the mitigation measures and the reduction of emissions promised in 2015 have been realised.”
With 93% of the country carpeted by carbon-sucking forests, the South American oil exporter’s disappointment with world leaders encapsulated the sentiments of woodland and commodity-rich but finance-poor nations who cannot afford to drop fossil fuel dependencies.
Three flagship pledges made headlines. Forty countries backed ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’, one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s major announcements to “turbocharge” green technology uptake. Downing Street suggests 20 million new jobs globally and for the scheme to add over $16 trillion to global economies.
The PM’s gloriously evangelical description of woodlands as “three trillion pillared cathedrals" premiered the announcement that over 100 countries had signed up to end and reverse deforestation. The Brazilian signature is notable, as is the £14bn pledge of funds (although less than half is new money), but there is a nervousness that the land-use landmark will follow 2014’s equally non-binding New York Declaration on Forests under the rug.
It’s similar on methane. 105 countries committed to a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030. If the pledge is met, it would buy a little time for global decarbonisation efforts to catch up with IPCC targets. But its remit is vague. It promises “comprehensive domestic action” but lacks individual targets or enforcement routes and signatures from China, Russia and India who routinely top methane emission rankings.
Aside from Jeff Bezos' uninspired afternoon sermon on how the Amazon, though prime, cannot be delivered overnight, yesterday packed a lot of promisingly multilateral commitments. There was a little more detail and (billionaires aside) self-awareness on display. It remains to be seen if the tens of thousands of protestors gathered outside throughout the day are confident these pledges can be met.
Shock of the Day
Reports that large rats have bitten refuse workers added to Glasgow’s rubbish publicity as poor pay and conditions motivate several planned strikes this week.
Stat of the Day
Bitcoin consumes more electricity every year than Hungary and the Czech Republic combined.