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COP26 Results

Written By: - Date published: 10:33 am, November 14th, 2021 - 15 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, global warming, science, uncategorized - Tags:

The deal is done. Together with lots of side-agreements, big-up pledges, finance, and no definite language on Section 6.

Not a disaster, not a spectacular success, somewhere on the not too bad side for the effort involved.

The landmark inclusion of language to phase out “unabated coal power” and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies—leaving countries responsible for defining those parameters—remained bitterly fought until the last minute.

The final plenary session on Saturday evening saw India proposing to further water down the language around ending coal and fossil fuel subsidies from “phasing out” to “phasing down.” The proposal that was met with reluctance and disappointment from countries like Switzerland, the European Union, Mexico, the Marshall Islands, Fiji, and more, but ultimately adopted. We will I am sure put out a release today offering similar disappointment, mixed with success.

“I apologize for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry” said COP26 President Alok Sharma, adding: “I also understand the disappointment, but as, you’ve noted, is vital we protect this package.”

He needs to give himself a lie down, a hankie and a Kitkat. They all come down to the wire – all of them. And there’s at least collective will to keep 1.5 alive in principle even if it’s possibly not in reality.

Governments have limited power over the kinds of capitalism that produce massive CO2 emissions. But over the last two weeks they’ve done collectively more than the industrial polluter industries have. Germany’s car companies couldn’t get it’s shit together with other car producers, for example. The world’s collective of countries did ok.

Half the point of these is the magnified collective shaming and persuasion, which tells me we need to do more of them.

The rest of this is up to us.

15 comments on “COP26 Results ”

  1. Poission 1

    language to phase out “unabated coal power” and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies—leaving countries responsible for defining those parameters—remained bitterly fought until the last minute.

    The cunning plan became very weasel wordy.

  2. Patricia Bremner 2

    Governments have limited power over the kinds of capitalism that produces massive CO2 emissions.

    Ad, that is what the billionaire and trillionaire class want. They find democracy an impediment, tax laws something to work round, and environmental factors something they treat as a bottomless pit, while at the same time, personally buying pristine pieces of the world for their own use.

    They are the modern day pirates, preying on smaller states, while using their market power to push charities to look good .

    • Ad 2.1

      No shareholder wants lots of government control. Having said that there are plenty of State Owned Enterprises all over the world where government ownership doesn't necessarily mean control.

      We may be a very small state, but it's the same here.

  3. Michael 3

    The big news was the bilateral agreement between the US and China on reducing carbon and methane emission. An example of realopolitik which contrasts with the waffly ineffectiveness, and susceptibility to lobbying from vested interests, that plagued COP26, at least it shows that the big powers can cooperate when it suits them.

  4. RedLogix 4

    The rest of this is up to us.

    Well here is the graph that says otherwise.

    The you get like this which starts well with an honest appraisal of the current challenge, but then this:

    According to the latest framework for achieving peak carbon and carbon neutrality released on October 24, the country is aiming to cut its reliance on fossil fuels to below 20 per cent by 2060.

    This means non-fossil fuel sources such as solar and wind will contribute 80 per cent of China’s total energy mix by then, almost a swap-around with the current situation.

    Well that sounds nice – but it's not clear from the article how they intend to address these two small details:



    Put simply China is very badly located to deliver on this solar/wind promise. It's so poor that given any foreseeable technology, the harsh reality is that any solar panels or wind towers they install will almost certainly never repay their embedded carbon budget, much less ever make economic sense.

    • Ad 4.1

      With Xi Jinping now essentially appointed to his position for life, the success of China's commitment to its COP26 plan relies so much upon Xi Jinping.

      In this field at least, that gives me confidence.

      Here's a deep analysis of Xi Jinping's longstanding commitment to the environment and sustainability throughout his career.

      Analysis: Nine key moments that changed China’s mind about climate change – Carbon Brief

      It's a forensic 20 minute read but worthwhile.

      If we look back only a decade at where the Chinese government was with such issues, we can see the speed of change that is possible.

      No one would have thought that Xi could enable China to emerge out of the GFC stronger than any other large country, or enable China to eradicate Party corruption, or manage down its real estate boom, or achieve near-total social and economic control over its emerging digital corporations. I can't think of a Western leader since Franklin Roosevelt with that kind of imagination let alone executive skill. So that's quite hard to get one's head around.

      Electric car sales are already 20% of total, and in just 9 years time, 40% of vehicles sold in China will be electric at least. Combustion engine buses will be eradicated inside 5 years on current fleet replacement. So that will assist.

      I agree coal electricity generation will remain critical for China. Can't see a way around it.

      I do have sneaking suspicion that Xi will actively close most of China's steel mills (other than for domestic construction consumption), essentially gifting that market to India. So that will assist.

      Coal CO2 emissions has stabilised in China since 2012. How 2021 and beyond sees this pattern will be one to watch for sure, but it's clear that major CO2 change is possible in a short period in China.

      China: CO2 Country Profile – Our World in Data

      There is no other more authoritarian, friendless, but more determined country with a resolute leader who has a deep environmental background than Xi Jinping.

      So when Xi Jinping makes a commitment to the UN that he will deliver a plan for carbon neutrality, he will likely achieve it.

      President Xi tells UN that China will be 'carbon neutral' by 2060 (cnbc.com)

      • RedLogix 4.1.1

        Coal CO2 emissions has stabilised in China since 2012.

        Well sort of – if you cherry pick 2012 as your starting point. But under his leadership they first dropped a bit until 2016 and have risen steadily ever since. I'm not sure you can take much comfort from this.

        Worse still – all of Xi Xinping's carbon neutral promises revolve around expanding their solar/wind sources, but the data I linked to clearly show how implausible it is to do this effectively. The basic numbers just don't stack up.

        • Ad

          China has stated that it will increase the contribution of wind, hydroelectric, and solar power to 25% of the electricity mix by 2030, up from 15% in the previous 5YP.

          Granted that is ambitious. But focusing on solar and wind should be admitted as wrong and I am confident Xi will see that.

          And because China’s solar, wind, and hydroelectric resources are concentrated in its western provinces while most of its electricity usage is concentrated in its eastern coastal areas, highly inefficient long-distance electricity transmission previously limited the potential for renewables.

          But after investing heavily in resolving this issue, China has mastered ultra-high-voltage electricity transmission, which allows electricity to move across the country at low cost. This advanced technology is now central to the government’s new infrastructure plan, which aims to transform the structure of China’s energy sector over the next five years.

          Now we need to get to nuclear. China currently has 50 operable reactors that account for 4% of its total electricity generation. Another 18 are under construction, promising to increase the share to around 6%. Since 2016, Chinese authorities have been approving 6-8 new reactors per year, a rate that would bring the total to around 350 by 2060.

          They won't completely get nuclear to replace coal in electricity generation since they will need to get to around 1,000 more reactors if it is to service about double the current electricity demand.

          Building 1,000 more reactors in the next 40 years would seem financially and logistically impossible. But probably not for China, which has already transformed other forms of infrastructure over a similar period. For example, between 1988 and 2019, it extended its national highway system from around 35,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) to 161,000 kilometers, surpassing the US. And who would have thought that China could be on the way to bringing a replacement of domestic air travel with high speed trains, inside two decades?

          The Impact Of High Speed Rail On China's Domestic Aviation Market – Simple Flying

          So, while I'm relying on nuclear for replacing coal and electric vehicles and trains for replacing petroleum, no other country gives me CO2 optimism like China does.

          • RedLogix

            But after investing heavily in resolving this issue, China has mastered ultra-high-voltage electricity transmission, which allows electricity to move across the country at low cost.

            Yes I'm aware of this – although your own link points out that it's ABB who are providing the technology. And it's not all that cheap to do – and comes nowhere near solving the immense storage problem. I've never been anti-renewables but I have consistently argued to be clear-eyed about their limitations.

            Building 1,000 more reactors in the next 40 years would seem financially and logistically impossible.

            Only under the current Gen III model. The whole point of Gen IV is to be cost competitive with unmitigated gas. If you wonder where I'm coming from – take a quick peek at this. It's less than 4 minutes – and I've had conversations with four of the individuals speaking:

  5. Jenny how to get there 5

    As we await the return of the Minister of Blah, blah, blah, jetting in from Glasgow.

    Honest Government explains, Australia, (and New Zealand's), Carbon Neutral by 2050 policy.

  6. Tricledrown 6

    The cop out 26 no oil or gas subsidy changes let alone reductions.Coal use reduction no real changes till 2026.

    The fossil fuel lobbies put the brakes on any real change that would prevent temperature rises below 2.2 °C.

    Aid to impoverished/developing countries miniscule . Boris Johnston all talk and no trousers,Scott Morrison all talk to .Australia won't abandon expansion of Coal mining.

  7. Jenny How to get there 7


    15 November 2021

    …….Australia won't abandon expansion of Coal mining.

    How can Australia be expected to abandon expanding coal mining when, New Zealand won't abandon expansion of Coal mining.

    …..Mining company New Brighton Collieries Ltd has been granted exploratory access to the Southland District Council’s Ohai forestry block, which is next to the Takitimu coal mine.

    The council also agreed in principle to negotiate the terms of an access arrangement for mining, should exploration be successful, subject to the granting of any necessary resource consents….

    Potential scrap looming over coal expansion in Southland | Stuff.co.nz

    Talk about setting a bad example.

    John Key used to talk about New Zealand being a "Fast follower on climate change",

    New Zealand is in in fact a leader on climate change, but in the completely wrong direction.

    Reality Check for Anti-Coal Activists

    Posted on 26 June 2019

    25 June 2019

    Activists opposing the recent decision to grant a coal exploration permit on Crown land in the Waikato region need a reality check, says Straterra Chief executive Chris Baker.

    The permit was awarded in September 2018 to BT Mining, giving the company the ability to explore for coal, and the opportunity to evaluate coal identified for "feasibility of mining".

    Mr Baker says coal still has an important role to play in New Zealand and that role is willfully ignored by the groups that have come out opposing this decision…..

    The Glenbrook plant uses Waikato coal to make steel. This is the same quality coal that the Huntly Power station uses, but coal is a mineral input in the steel making process. Most steel globally is made with coking coal but the Glenbrook process has been designed to use the local coal. Bathurst Resources advise that 70% of coal mined in the Waikato is, and will be, supplied to the Glenbrook steel plant as a raw material and 25% will be used for electricity generation.

    ……“The protestors call to ‘put an end to this’ needs a reality check,” says Mr Baker…..

    Reality Check for Anti-Coal Activists (straterra.co.nz)

    I think it is Mr Baker, who needs the reality check.

    We stopped the Mangatangi coal mine expansion, we will stop your other coal mining expansions as well. If we need to lay our bodies on the line in front of your damn machines, we will.

    You will not get your coal mine… Believe it in your hearts – Mana News

  8. pukahu road 8

    I listened to a climate activist from the Philippines on the BBC who was at Glasgow and who reminded Nuala McGovern that the finance that has been pledged (which has never been honoured in the past) is a loan with interest charged on top.

    The industrialist nations that have caused climate change now profit from fragile and poor states that have literally got their backs to the wall.

    A familiar blueprint for all colonised countries where empirical thinking prevails.

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