Climatologist says deal in Glasgow just another disappointment

Ljubljana – Commenting on the deal reached at the COP26 conference in Glasgow on Saturday, climatologist Lučka Kajfež Bogataj said is was just another disappointment in terms of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, she noted the progress in providing financial assistance to the most vulnerable countries and halting deforestation.

“What is essential for science and the future is how ambitious goals are set, and from that point of view I have to say that this is just another disappointment,” Kajfež Bogataj told the STA on Sunday.

“Six years have passed since the Paris Agreement and there were no negotiations last year, so the countries had more than enough time for new negotiating offers, but of course this did not happen,” she added.

The climatologist agreed with many other critics of the final document, who believe that instead of phase-out of coal, a commitment should have been made to give up coal altogether.

“It is precisely these statements and the undefined commitment that we will abandon coal that show that world leaders, in my opinion, live on some other planet,” she noted.

Scientists are very clear that emissions should be reduced, ideally by 65%, by 2030, which would mean the final phase-out of coal by 2030 and a significant reduction in the use of other fossil fuels.

Kajfež Bogataj does not agree with some estimates that, despite the latest agreement, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial age is still attainable.

“The world is not able to achieve such a major reduction in eight years. It is a defeat of sorts, as far as climate science is concerned. As if all the reports, warnings and analyses were made for someone other than the decision makers,” she said.

According to the climatologist, the younger generations can also be justifiably disappointed with the agreement. She pointed out that there were not many young people at the conference, while fossil fuel lobbies had a strong presence.

For the latter, she is convinced that they had affected each decision at least a little bit, while she also hopes that the voice of young people will become louder and that they will not give up.

The deal nevetheless needs to be looked at from a broader perspective. “A progress has been made from the aspect of financial assistance provided by developed countries to developing countries that are less to blame for climate change.”

Kajfež Bogataj noted that some progress had also been made in halting deforestation. As she pointed out, the relevant commitments are, for the first time, somewhat more precise and explicit about this process needing to stop by 2030.

There is also progress in the commitments to reduce emissions of methane as another important greenhouse gas. “When it comes to methane, it s about better management of waste, livestock, rice fields This is much easier than giving up coal and oil.”

She sees some hope in the bilateral agreement between the US and China, while noting that no specific figures had been presented.

Kajfež Bogataj is convinced that all countries should adopt an emission-reduction programme similar to EU’s Fit for 55 package. “It is an example of how all countries should react,” she said, adding that total participation was needed.

The climatologist noted that a successful conference was not guarantee for a better future. “Paris was successful, but then nothing happened for six years. Kyoto was successful, and we saw that the countries failed to fulfil their commitments.”