Mixed response to virtual UN climate summit © giSpate (shutterstock)
Non-governmental organizations gave a mixed review of the UN climate summit over the weekend. There was praise for ambitious climate plans, criticism for lack of support for those countries already suffering from climate damage.
The summit, held on the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris climate agreement, was hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the United Kingdom and France, along with Chile and Italy. The world climate conference originally scheduled in Glasgow had been postponed until 2021 because of the Corona pandemic.
Paris climate agreement
With the Paris Agreement, the international community committed in 2015 to limit the increase in average global temperature to well below 2 degrees and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. For it in the coming years the output of carbon dioxide and other climatic-damaging gases must be reduced clearly.
"Unlike official negotiations during UN climate conferences, which often focus on what is politically unfeasible, it was refreshing, for a change, to hear what ambitious plans the signatory states have and the importance they attach to fighting the climate crisis," Misereor climate expert Kathrin Schroeder told the Catholic News Agency (KNA).
At the same time, she stressed, there is not much time left to reach the 1.5-degree target. The climate crisis is already having a dramatic impact on the lives of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America. "Many of these countries have very ambitious plans, but now they need reliable international support to implement them and to better arm themselves against the consequences of the climate crisis."
Welthungerhilfe called the virtual UN summit, at which Pope Francis also spoke, a "political credibility test". Many countries would have brought forward promising-sounding promises. The EU had tightened its climate targets shortly before the meeting, other countries such as South Korea, Japan "and even the Vatican" had promised climate neutrality by 2050, Klma expert Michael Kuhn told the KNA. "Apple, the software and technology company, also announced its intention to make its entire supply chain carbon-neutral by 2030."
What he missed, however, was an announcement on increasing German climate financing by 2025, Kuhn said. "Because climate damage is increasing every day, and hunger is certainly impossible to manage when people in fragile and conflict-affected countries are suffering from droughts, heavy rains and tropical storms more often and for longer periods of time."
A small ray of hope
Germanwatch made similar comments. The approximately 500 million euros announced by Germany to help poor countries adapt to the consequences of climate change are only a small ray of hope, said Germanwatch expert David Eckstein. "More effective would have been a pledge by the Chancellor to double Germany's total climate funding over the next five years to at least 8 billion euros annually."
The Protestant aid agency "Brot fur die Welt" said that even after the UN summit, the poorest and most vulnerable states lacked planning certainty in the fight against the climate crisis. Germany missed "an important opportunity to force other industrialized countries to make concrete commitments as well".