Oct 21, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Net-zero emissions fight breaks out before COP26

Illustration of a globe with a fork in it.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Here's a sign of how tough it'll be to win new emissions-cutting moves at COP26: Big developing nations are refusing to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050.

Driving the news: That's spelled out in a new statement from countries including China, the biggest greenhouse gas emitter by far, as well as India and Indonesia.

Why it matters: Scientific reports have shown that such a target is necessary for reaching the 1.5°C or 2°C Paris targets. Agreeing to net-zero emissions by midcentury is a central goal of the U.S. and U.K., which is hosting the talks.

The big picture: Developing countries see calls for net-zero commitments by all nations by 2050 to be moving the goalposts for climate action.

Between the lines: The ministerial statement criticizes developed countries for repeatedly breaking their emissions reduction and financial aid commitments.

  • China, India and other signatories say industrialized countries need to rapidly decarbonize by 2030 while giving other nations the opportunity to pursue emissions cuts over the longer term.
  • “Developed countries have in fact increased their emissions between 1990 and 2020,” the document states, taking note that $100 billion a year in financial assistance from wealthier countries promised as early as 2009 has not materialized.
  • “These failures to deliver on the commitments agreed to by developed countries undermines trust and confidence in the multilateral system,” the countries state.

The bottom line: As climate expert, Li Shuo of Greenpeace, tweeted in response to the statement, “Glasgow will be one of the most difficult COPs in recent years.”

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