The Invention of the COP26 Compass

18 June 2021

Dear Delegates, 

Do you know how the compass was invented?

In ancient China, people found out about the specific movements of magnetic metal if formed and positioned in the right way. However, until Chinese sailors discovered the practical usefulness for navigation, what resembles a compass was used for fortune-telling.

When hearing the presidency speak about how COP26 will be physical, inclusive, and safe without offering any scenarios of implementing these – not even a go/no-go decision date – ECO can’t help but feel like the presidency is fortune-telling rather than navigating.

This worries ECO as the route to COP26 is not through easily navigable waters. But ECO is happy to provide some tips.

ECO knows that to successfully reach COP26, this process needs a tailwind that additional climate finance pledges would provide. Boris Johnson’s windblown look might not cut it. ECO welcomes in particular Canada’s pledge around the G7 summit, but so far finance pledges by rich countries are a weak puff rather than a good wind and will not get us anything close to far enough. 

As long as there are no clear commitments to promptly reach and then exceed the $100bn promise, ECO sees you rudderless in potentially stormy waters. Even more tricky if your ship is listing – could it be that pesky imbalance in the agenda we hear Parties talk about? 

However, with many ports of call on the way to COP you have time to balance your cargo: heads of delegation meetings, the July ministerial, leaders level dialogues at UNGA and a potential additional SB session on the road to the COP are great opportunities to balance the load: Namely more adaptation, loss and damage, and climate finance.

ECO also knows that the right direction is the one towards environmental integrity, with no double-counting through the application of corresponding adjustments, and no carryover of Kyoto Protocol units.  There is more work to be done developing a roadmap to the wrong destination. ECO recommends a roadmap that elaborates a clear mandate to the Supervisory Body on objective, standardized baselines, setting a partial cancellation rate to achieve overall mitigation, review and reporting on cooperative approaches, establishing clear safeguards and provisions for the protection of human rights, and the effective operation of a coordinating network to match means of implementation to a registry of actions to unlock ambition potential.

But above all, ECO wants to speak to your moral compass:  ECO has heard Alok Sharma speaking after the closing about how accredited delegates would be vaccinated Until rapid, global scaling-up of vaccine distribution and equity have been achieved, we want to make clear that allowing COP26 delegates to “jump the queue” ahead of frontline workers, the elderly and other vulnerable people in their own countries is neither morally acceptable nor politically viable. The fact is that the G7, and specifically the UK government as COP Host, have not endorsed the TRIPS waiver for a People’s Vaccine. Period. There is no funny metaphor here.

In this context, ECO feels also reminded to the WHO presentation at this session and how health and climate are connected: Overall, 37% of warm-season heat-related deaths can be attributed to anthropogenic climate change. This has become highly politically relevant as it is the beginning of a vast amount of legal cases. Without GHG emissions reduction damages to our health will increase – for the WHO the value of health gains is twice of the costs.

The closing plenary provided little more clarity about the course of action, although ECO was happy to hear the July ministerial is going to take a closer look at Loss and Damage. But ECO is sure this won’t cut it: the AGN, AOSIS, and others flagged the need for more support and several parties raised the issue of imbalance of the agenda. In this regard, ECO found it noteworthy that Switzerland on behalf f the EIG asked for a consultation of the agenda. ECO will continue to help you navigating and therefore has some final remarks for you.

And last but not least ECO would like to cede space to the Women and Gender Constituency who also have some remarks on the agenda:

We have wondered why this SB’s agenda did not include gender – although a new Gender Action Plan was adopted at COP25. Gender may not be on the SB52 agenda but it is indeed on the global agenda, as the Generation Equality Forum, hosted by Mexico in March, and soon to come in France, unites countries and civil society in a Coalition for Feminist Action for Climate Justice. As Parties are expected to submit their enhanced NDCs, a workshop dedicated to the implementation of the GAP would have been a good opportunity for negotiators to understand how a stronger gender integration supports greater climate ambition of national climate policies, as outlined in this WGC policy paper. We hope that this opportunity will not be missed on our way towards COP26.      

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