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Pace of UN climate talks fail to match urgency needed for climate action

Date: 17 June 2021

Thimphu, Bhutan – Following the May-June 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group emphasised that much work remains to ensure the world can realise the goals of the Paris Agreement, and commented on the outcome of the recent G7 summit. 

Mr Sonam P Wangdi, Chair of the LDC Group, said “Slow progress at this session leaves a daunting task ahead to conclude the remaining work of the Paris Agreement rulebook and other issues for progressing climate action by COP26. The informal notes that capture progress from this session on various topics, have broadened options rather than convergence, which requires more work from now up to COP26 to narrow the divergences and prepare clear options to help make decisions.” 

“Outside the virtual negotiating rooms, current plans and pledges to cut emissions are extremely inadequate; far from enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Ahead of COP26, countries must submit more ambitious NDCs with increased targets for 2030 that are consistent with 1.5°C pathways and in line with their fair share of the global effort. We also urge countries to come forward with their long-term, low GHG emissions development strategies that map the path towards a net zero world by 2050.”

“This year’s COP is a particularly important one. At COP26 we must finalize the remaining rules to enable the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, including the rules on global carbon markets under Article 6 and on ensuring transparency of each Party’s climate action and support under the agreement. Raising ambition remains key in all these discussions and to the lead up to COP26. We are greatly concerned that some countries during the May-June session, continue to push for a carry-over of Kyoto Protocol units, despite the downward pressure this would place on ambition.

COP26 is also the moment to begin discussions on the new long-term climate finance commitment. The current commitment of $100 billion does not meet the financial needs of developing countries to transition to low-carbon development pathways, adapt to climate change and build resilience against its impacts, and to address the loss and damage it causes. The new goal must be based on science and reflect the needs of developing countries to address the worsening climate crisis.” 

“With climate change impacts intensifying and the loss and damage it causes worsening, the international response to loss and damage remains key to our group, and we expect this issue to be given greater consideration at upcoming sessions. Dedicated action and support to address loss and damage in vulnerable countries must be anchored as a deliverable for COP26.”

COP26 is fast approaching, but the road to Glasgow remains unclear. Mr Wangdi said, “We need to hear from the UK government how various issues will be dealt with including equitable access to vaccines, ensuring delegates’ safety in Glasgow, and the higher costs of the flying, hotels, testing and quarantining in this COVID-era. We must be assured that the climate talks will be inclusive and accessible to everyone – particularly the most vulnerable countries.”

“We have seen over the last couple of weeks that while virtual negotiations are better than nothing, the quality of discussions is definitely impaired. It is critical that the voices of the most vulnerable and civil society are included in decision making on the global response to climate change. Ensuring inclusivity of COP26 is paramount. We cannot risk unambitious or unfair outcomes in Glasgow.”

The G7 Summit coincided with the UN Climate Change Conference.  Mr Wangdi said, “We welcome G7 members’ commitment to each increase 2030 targets and to submit enhanced NDCs ahead of COP26. But we had hoped for more tangible commitments on climate finance.” 

On climate finance the G7 reaffirmed the collective developed countries goal to jointly mobilise $100 billion per year. Mr Wangdi noted that “merely reaffirming a commitment that was made ten years ago and that has so far been unfulfilled is far from enough given the urgency and scale of the climate crisis. The goals we all set out to achieve in the Paris Agreement – to protect our planet and all its people – will not be met without developed countries vastly increasing the scale of public climate finance they deliver.” 

Background 

The May-June 2021 UN Climate Change Conference concluded today. Parties to the UNFCCC have been meeting virtually for the last three weeks to prepare for the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, scheduled for November 2021.

The LDC Group is made up of the 46 Least Developed countries, which disproportionately suffer from the ever-increasing impacts of climate change despite contributing the least to global warming. Representing over one billion people throughout Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Caribbean, the group negotiates as a bloc in the UN climate negotiations to secure a fair and ambitious global response to climate change.

COVID-19 vaccination doses in LDCs account for less than 2% of the combined population. 

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