The G7 meeting was held in Cornwall on June 11-13. Among the many topics discussed during the meeting was a debate on climate change, which is a major topic for the host (UK) due to the November Climate Summit in Glasgow.

The countries participating in the summit announced:at. Increase financial assistance, assistance to African countries, and increase support to developing countries in adapting to climate change.

However, there were very few specific announcements, either on the actual amount of financial support or on other measures.

However, it should be noted that the G7 group has only a limited number of countries and can in no way be considered representative. All declarations made at the summit are binding only on its participants – and among the “big absentees” at this meeting is China.

at the same time…

Meanwhile, somewhat overshadowed by other international meetings, such as the G7 or NATO summit, for three weeks (31 May to 17 June), a working round of climate negotiations was held to prepare for the COP26 summit in Glasgow. This session was unique in many ways.

First, it was the first attempt at structured negotiation since the outbreak of the pandemic. The meetings that were scheduled to take place last year have been postponed to this year They were only replaced by the unofficial hypothetical events of June and November 2020. They were not, however, by definition negotiations.

Second, for the first time, this meeting was held entirely in a virtual space. This was linked to some specific challenges that will be discussed later.

Third, unlike previous negotiations meetings on the sacred, this session was not intended to produce any formal outcomes that could be agreed upon at the summit.

Fourth, each week of negotiations was adjusted to different time zones. In the first week, meetings were held at a convenient time for delegates from Europe and Africa, in the second week for delegates from the Americas, and in the third week for delegates from Asia, Australia and Oceania.

So what impact will these meetings have on this year’s climate debate and preparation for COP 26?

what happened …

The main achievement, even if it seemed insignificant, was the possibility of holding such meetings. So far, representatives of some countries have refused to negotiate at a distance, citing the limited technical possibilities of joining the negotiations. Differences in time zones, which can be another form of excluding some parties from the negotiations, also presented a significant obstacle.

It turns out that organizing virtual meetings is possible, and a significant part of technical problems can be solved. Meetings can also be adapted to different time zones so that neither party is privileged. In practice, this meant that all parties were equally dissatisfied, as they ended their meetings at 2-3 AM for a week, beginning at 4-5 AM the following day.

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In addition, a number of negotiating topics that could affect the agreement were discussed in Glasgow, although these topics are of a very technical nature, primarily understandable to the experts dealing with them, and not political. Political topics were mostly absent during these conversations – due to their nature.

Especially:

  • More details about the global assessment are discussed. The first of these reviews is scheduled for 2023 – the following ones will take place every five years, Summarize whether measures taken at the global level are sufficient to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Discussions continued on the principles for the operation of the new international system of emissions trading, or rather emissions reductions (under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement) – at the level of countries, groups of countries, as well as companies. This new global mechanism to replace the system established under the Kyoto Protocol has been in the vestibule of decision-making since the COP24 Summit in Katowice (2018). It should be noted that a separate system is being created here, from the European Emissions Trading Scheme – EU ETS. Whether or not they will be linked in the future – and what their nature will be – has yet to be determined.)
  • Discussions about the format of the tabulations needed to report emissions by all countries continued with greater success. The commitment to submit reports every two years was negotiated in Katowice and entered into force in 2024.

… and what failed

The main problem with conducting “informal” negotiations is, unfortunately, precisely the lack of an official outcome. This means that any agreement from this session could easily be undermined when the country’s representatives formally meet in November in Glasgow. The results will, in fact, influence talks in Glasgow, which will be rejected or challenged, especially the most controversial elements, especially the most politicized: emissions trading.

Apart from that, there were no major changes and the negotiators stuck to the already known positions. Developing countries in particular emphasized that they did not fully receive the promised financial assistance for climate action (reduction and adaptation) and demanded another increase from 2025. As a rule, this situation does not bode well for a constructive atmosphere in the near future. Summit – Even if combined, according to the meeting’s agenda, the topic of climate assistance was not up for discussion. But he will undoubtedly return with double force in Glasgow at the latest. There is much to be discussed regarding financing, including the question of whether and how damage from events caused by increased climate change (the so-called damage and loss mechanism) will be compensated for, for example in the Caribbean or Pacific. There was also dissatisfaction with the lack of time to discuss climate change adaptation and the global goal in this regard.

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There are two other important issues related to once the meetings are available.

First, some states may point to a lack of technical possibilities to join together to undermine the already informal arrangements of these three weeks of deliberations. Although the leaders of the meeting tried to ensure the presence of representatives of all the countries assembled in the negotiating groups in meetings, as a rule, each country. Denial of this right (for technical reasons too) creates an opportunity to question the entirety of agreements to which all states must agree – without exception.

The second problem is the difficulty of accessing meetings of civil society representatives, including NGOs. Admittedly, most had the opportunity to observe most of the action, but without the option to speak – which would have been possible during “traditional” negotiations.

What will come of this for the future

Certainly, the virtual negotiation format has proven successful in some matters where there is no need for a formal decision (ie a legal document). All workshops, reviews or discussions can be conducted in virtual form without greatly compromising their features – especially if recordings of these meetings can later be viewed as part of ‘Access On Demand’.

However, at the same time, even the provision of full technical facilities to individual delegations does not guarantee equal access to meetings – such access is necessary to legitimize formal arrangements. Groups.. Unfortunately, this is not possible in the default form. Added to this was the usual physical and mental exhaustion of negotiators who had to work at night or in the early morning hours. This in turn affected the quality of the discussions and the tendency to reach agreement.

Consequences of COP 26 in Glasgow

Summing up these three weeks, one thing can be said: there are many challenges ahead for the UK, which will be the presidency of the COP26 summit. However, she only has 4 months to complete

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On the topic of the negotiations themselves (emissions trading, financing, adaptation and reporting), further meetings and discussions at the political level will be necessary. The UK plans to organize such meetings at the ministerial level as early as July. However, no agreement should be expected at this point. As is usually the case at these summits, the final decisions will only be made at the end. However, for these decisions to be positive, it is necessary to involve not only the negotiators, but also their superiors – most often ministers.

Meanwhile, it is clear that if COP VI is to succeed in the negotiation part, it must allow for personal meetings, and very informal discussions between negotiators. And just acting in a fully formal setting (and that’s what the current session seems to be doing) hardens situations, since he doesn’t want to quit too early – and the default format of the discussion makes it impossible to have a more discreet exchange of “something for something”. This, in turn, often leads to agreement on an outcome acceptable to all parties.

Finally, it should be noted that most likely the negotiations themselves will not be at the center of attention at COP26. This year is the late deadline for reporting due to the epidemic

New higher targets for 2030. In addition, many of them, including China, have reported intent to eliminate their emissions around mid-century. On such new statements will focus the media and political pressures. So when it comes to the negotiations themselves, the aim of the British Presidency of COP 26 is likely to be to provide decent and equal conditions for all parties to have a constructive discussion. However, given the circumstances – even this would be quite a challenge.

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Marcin Kowalczyk – Climate Team Leader at the World Wide Fund for Nature in Poland and expert on the Climate Alliance. Marcin Kowalczyk previously worked for 14 years at the Ministry of Finance, dealing with energy and climate issues. In 2008-2019 he was a member of the Polish delegation to a number of climate conferences (COPs), as well as a member of the COP Presidency team during conferences in Poland. He participated in negotiating the Paris Agreement and the Katowice Package. During COP 24 in Katowice, he was the leading expert on climate finance on the Polish presidency team.