This is the second part of my blog series on the SOAS perspective on COP26 and a related evaluation of some COP26 outcomes. In part 1, I discussed some of the contributions presented at the SOAS COP26 Briefing and concluded that Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), climate finance and fossil fuel finance were seen as key areas of contention and in dire need of fortification. In this blog entry, I’ll discuss some more contributions and finalise the overview of SOAS COP26 demands.
Climate change impacts are manifesting themselves across the globe and Andrew Newsham isolated Zimbabwe as a primary example of climate vulnerability. Since 1980, the rainy season in Zimbabwe has shortened by 30 days and tobacco is becoming harder and harder to farm. Article 8 of the Paris Agreement concerns loss and damage; a vehicle that aims to avert, minimise and address the losses and damages associated with climate change impacts. Dafermos and Volz revealed that as things currently stand, developing countries are currently spending one additional dollar for every 10 dollars paid in interest on loans. The additional dollar is supposed to capture climate risks and increases the cost of debt for climate-vulnerable countries. This reduces their capacity to invest in climate adaptation measures. In order to escape this profoundly unjust vicious cycle, Dafermos and Volz argue that international support is necessary. A COP26 that takes justice seriously should include agreements that are aimed at regulating private finance and introducing debt relief programmes for climate-vulnerable countries.
Climate vulnerability and the cost of finance. Source: SOAS COP25 Briefing (Dafermos & Volz, 2021)
Giuseppina Siciliano provided the audience with a contribution on the importance of Just Transitions. Particularly with respect to energy systems, Siciliano mentions that industrial development, education, training and social protection are crucial to ensure that decarbonization efforts go hand in hand with poverty eradication and energy affordability. Socially just energy solutions will have to form an integral part of the COP26 negotiations.
Closely related to the former focus on the Just Transition, is Pallavi Roy’s exposition of livelihoods in the Niger Delta. She argues that the fact that the artisanal oil industry is now a crucial provider of employment in the Niger Delta is the result of fossil fuel corporations that have destroyed traditional livelihoods. In this way, Roy sheds light on an often-overlooked dimension of climate vulnerability, namely that livelihoods are sometimes not only dependent on carbon-intensive activities but additionally struck by networked corruption. A successful transformation of these livelihoods into green variants would require concrete efforts to dovetail climate change mitigation and anti-corruption.
The final major issue raised at the SOAS COP26 Briefing concerned Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – on the harmonisation and integration of carbon markets and international carbon credit transfers as well as non-market approaches to emission reductions. In her presentation, Felicia Jackson rehashed that Article 6 has been scrutinised for its lack of clarity on the issue of double-counting, additionality and whether previously held emission credits can be counted towards NDCs or not. Christine Oughton also reminded us that non-market approaches to emission reductions are particularly useful for climate vulnerable countries that do not have the capacity to quickly implement carbon accounting frameworks. In terms of Article 6, COP26 will have to provide more clarity on the rules of “market-games” and place more emphasis on the nature and importance of non-market approaches.
This concludes what I gathered to be the nucleus of SOAS demands for COP26 outcomes. With the increasing amount of news items, blog posts, podcasts and articles released in the aftermath of COP26, I’m sure you can evaluate actual outcomes without my assistance. But, join me in part 3, for my evaluation of whether COP26 has passed the SOAS litmus test on the issues of NDCs, climate finance and fossil fuel finance.
Dr Chandni Dwarkasing is a postdoctoral fellow at the SOAS Department of Economics working on climate change policies, low-carbon transitions in developed countries and abstraction and formalization practices in the field of Ecological Economics.