Products linked to deforestation like beef, palm oil and cocoa shall be banned from entering the European Union under a new landmark legal proposal. However it still leaves out other fragile ecosystems, such as Brazil’s Cerrado savannah and peatlands in south-east Asia, argues the director of Mighty Earth Europe. The current proposal also does not apply to rubber. In order to successfully fight deforestation major markets like China and the US would need to follow suit and also clean up their supply chains. Between 1990 and 2008 the EU consumption led to 10% of global deforestation.
Germany has decided to ban palm oil in agrofuels until 2023. This has been an overdue decision. France has eliminated palm oil in biofuels back in 2020 and Austria in July 2021. However as far as known use of palm oil by power plants is not included in the new decision, nor palm oil as part of old chip fat (see: salveaselva.org).
In times of the COP21, Paris we could download and read the final declaration directly from the conference website. Things have become more complicated by the time. Currently a draft can be downloaded at:
Note that the draft still shows 'phase-out' of coal, though the final agreement was to 'phase-down' coal. In the following we cite from the first of these documents:
IV. Mitigation 16. Recognizes that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5°C compared with 2°C, and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C; 17. Also recognizes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid-century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases; … 19. Invites Parties to consider further actions to reduce by 2030 non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions, including methane; 20. Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognizing the need for support towards a just transition; 21. Emphasizes the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems, including forests and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems, to achieve the long-term global goal of the Convention by acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and protecting biodiversity, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards;
As known the initially strong final declaration of the COP26 was watered down in the last minute. Some countries, from hear-say at the conference that were India, China, Australia and the USA, have inserted 'inefficient' and added 'unabated' to “phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”. 'Unabated' means 'unreduced'. The word 'inefficient' before 'fossil fuel subsidies' makes the statement rather worthless. When are they inefficient? If they do not efficiently destroy the climate. Finally India lobbied to turn 'phase-out' into 'phase-down'. I.e. no exit from coal but just a reduction. This is really lamentable though we wanna also state what is positive about the outcome. It is the first time that a coal exit has been mentioned as first discussed but lobbied out at the very first COP in Berlin 1995. The 1.5°C target has been promoted over 2°C. The protection of nature and ecosystems has first been mentioned because of their importance as coal sinks.
Article 6 / Offsetting has been detailed. The Cap-and-Trade system can neither effectively stop forest destruction nor does it reduce emissions in wealthy nations. Bolsonaro wants to reduce illegal deforestation by making it legal. We think offsetting can only help with reductions on a short term, on long term something different must be devised as offsetting does effectively hinder reaching zero emissions.
Besides new reduction commitments the COP26 summit bore several initiatives. One of them is the methane reduction pledge, initiated by the EU and the US. India, China and Russia have not joined. Nonetheless a reduction of methane and other GHGs has made it up to the final declaration. We also see the anounced cooperation between the USA and China as very important; without these two countries the fight against climate change can not be won. We have already mentioned the forest initiative; it is essential that countries like Brazil and Indonesia have joined though the second would have liked to renounce. The coalition of of 450 banks and funds representing 40% of global wealth called “Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero” has a huge leverage in its hands. However their promises are non-binding in contrast to those made by states.
All commitmens made so far would suffice for a reduction to 1.8°C. However this would require a radical shift in politics; at the moment we are heading for a warming of 2.7°C; emissions are still rising. In order to strengthen their commitments countries have agreed to meet again at the end of the next year. The commitments of many countries are still not in accord with the 1.5°C target. Concerning global warming every tenth degree will be decisive.
Just days after the COP26 President Biden wants to sell oil, gas and fracking leases in the Gulf of Mexico that would result in the production of up to 1.12 billion barrels of oil and 4.4 trillion cubic feet of gas over the next 50 years. Stop it!, USA: tell the FOI (Federal Insurance Office) that insurance companies should not insure fossil fuel projects while they raise contributions or stop insuring for everyone by climate chaos (see sample commments).
The draft of the final COP26 decision text urges countries to phase out coal and end fossil fuel subsidies. And, crucially, this text is legally binding for all signatories. But there are climate deniers and laggards, like the Australian government, who are lobbying hard to weaken the draft text, so they can carry on as before …