COP26: New draft document urges bolder climate action
By Lydia O’Kane
It’s literally down to the wire as the COP26 Climate Conference draws to a close in the city of Glasgow.
A new draft agreement drawn up for the summit on Friday urged countries to be bolder in the fight against global warming.
At its core is the demand that states set tougher climate pledges; however, in the latest draft, the language used was watered down when asking nations to phase out subsidies for fossil fuels.
As haggling for a strong agreement continues inside the conference centre, protesters outside are keeping the pressure on, demanding that delegates take action to protect the planet.
This conference began with the aim of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, in a bid to halt the worst effects of climate change.
However, under current national pledges to cut emissions this decade, experts say the world's temperature would soar far beyond that limit, leading to sea level rises, droughts, storms, floods, and wildfires.
After two weeks of discussions, there are still a host of issues the nearly 200 countries represented at COP26 disagree on.
One of those gaps is the issue of finance, with developing countries calling for tougher measures to ensure that rich countries, which have produced the most emissions, give more money to help the poorest adapt to climate impacts.
As the curtain comes down on this summit, a final deal will require the unanimous consent of the countries that signed up to the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The Director of Jesuit Missions UK, Paul Chitnis has been attending the Glasgow summit. Speaking to Vatican Radio about concrete action being taken in the battle against global warming, he said leaders had delivered “in part” in areas such as methane reduction. “I think the sense is as we come to the end of this, is that the political will has been lacking to deliver what is really needed to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.”
He underlined that if leaders don’t take action to make the compromises that are required to keep that 1.5-degree limit, “this will not only be measured in the lives and livelihoods of millions of people but their political legacy will be seriously damaged for future generations because of their failure to take the decisions that are needed now.”
Asked if the voice of faith leaders and communities, who have been at the forefront of the climate debate, was being heard at this conference, the Jesuit Missions director said he thought it was, adding that Pope Francis’ leadership on this issue, particularly through Laudato si', has been “enormous and highly significant” and this was noted at the COP26 summit.
However, one of the things that have not been addressed enough at the conference, he lamented, has been the need for an “interior change” and this, he said, “is where the faith communities have something really important to say.”
He also stressed that “the role of the faith communities is absolutely fundamental in keeping this 1.5-degree limit to global warming alive.”
Hope springs eternal
As this COP26 climate summit draws to a close, Mr. Chitnis stressed that it is “vital that people of faith remain hopeful; there are plenty of grounds for being pessimistic, but I think as people of faith we must always cling to the hope that things can and will be better.”
That hope, he underlined, comes from the demonstrations outside the summit, from the pilgrimages made praying for the success of the conference. “It up to every one of us to keep that hope alive.”