Will we? Campaigners have called on the organisers of the COP 26, due to be held in November in Glasgow, to postpone the event citing global inequities in the face of resurgent COVID cases | Photo: Greenpeace

Activists call for COP26 postponement, UK rejects proposal

With less than 60 days to go for the COP26, scheduled to be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021, the spectre of rising COVID-19 cases in several parts of the world has cast a shadow on the climate summit. Global alliance of climate and environmental campaign groups, Climate Action Network (CAN), this week urged organisers to postpone the key climate meeting citing stark vaccine inequity, rising travel and accommodation costs, and high rates of Covid-19 infection in many parts of the world. “With just two months to go, time has run out for the UK’s vision for a ‘normal and inclusive’ Cop26,” CAN said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is evident that a safe, inclusive and just global climate conference in early November will be impossible.” 

Campaigners have raised concerns that given the inequity in vaccine access, participation at the event might be heavily skewed towards delegates and civil society from rich and developed nations. The UK government, however, has maintained that it is committed to host the “most inclusive COP ever” and has committed to bear costs of vaccinating all participating delegates from developing countries. This commitment has yet to see much corresponding action, as delegates have shared frustrations in procuring vaccines through the UK’s vaccination drive. 

Denmark, Costa Rica push for alliance to phase out oil and gas

Denmark and Costa Rica are leading an attempt to form an alliance of countries that are willing to commit to a phase out date for oil and gas production. The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) will also seek to stop allotting permits for exploration. A draft document seen by Reuters revealed the “core task” of the alliance would be to set a phaseout deadline for developed and developing countries that would align with their Paris goals. 

In order to join the alliance, member countries will have to commit to ending licensing rounds for oil and gas production, and phase out existing production. BOGA is expected to be launched at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland this year and the draft may change before this date, Reuters reported.    

Will consult widely over proposed energy market rules, says Australia’s energy board after backlash from renewables sector 

Australia’s energy board seems to be listening after suffering a backlash from the renewable energy industry over proposed changes to the energy market rules. The Energy Security Board (ESB) vowed to consult various stakeholders, including industry players and all tiers of government, before launching a new system by 2023. Among the contentious changes proposed is building a capacity mechanism for the country’s energy market. This will ensure power generators get paid when they guarantee supply at specific times. Renewable energy producers, however, contended that such payments could work to stretch the lifeline of coal generators.  

Australia’s national electricity grid operator, AEMO, meanwhile, said renewable energy coupled with storage can generate a stable power supply for the next five years. This means the country could potentially expedite the closing of its ageing coal power stations. In its report, AEMO highlighted thata renewable generation already has reached 57% penetration twice this year. Renewables could meet 100% of power demand for large parts of the day as soon as 2025, the report noted. 

Strained relations could impact cooperation on climate negotiations, China warns US 

Chinese officials warned the US’ climate envoy John Kerry that tensions between the two nations could hurt climate negotiations. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told Kerry that such negotiations are not separate from the broader relations between the two countries and urged the US to take action to improve ties. 

Kerry, who was on a two-and-a-half-day visit to the northern Chinese city of Tianjin, told reporters China cannot use climate change as a “geostrategic weapon or tool” because the issue was not just a bilateral but a global challenge. Cooperation between the two largest greenhouse gas emitters is crucial, especially if a breakthrough is to be reached at the UN climate summit to be held in November this year. Kerry told reporters the US wanted China “to do more” especially since the latter continues to build coal power plants even as it shares its plans on cutting emissions.  

UK announces $1.2bn in funding for India’s climate change efforts

The UK government last week announced a new funding package of public and private investments for green projects and renewable energy development in India. The announcement was made jointly by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as a part of the 11th Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) between the UK and India. The package includes $1bn in investments for green projects between 2022-2026 from the UK’s development finance institute, the CDC.