Last Minute Changes Disappoint

COP26 President Alok Sharma was emotional on stage when making the announcement about the final outcome.
15 Nov 2021 18:55
Last Minute Changes Disappoint
On the final day of the COP26 summit, climate campaigners walk through the blue zone to join protestors outside the Scottish Exhibition Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.. Photo: Rosi Doviverata

China and India made last minute efforts on Saturday night (Glasgow time) to water down language on the use of coal power, which is a major driver of emissions.

The move was highlighted in a statement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as the UN COP26 in Glasgow went into overtime that night.

While Fiji supported the final outcome, it also expressed its disappointment towards China and India.

Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Climate Change Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum also called out the hypocrisy of denying the call for the Glasgow loss and damage financing facility.

During Fiji’s intervention at the COP26 Closing Plenary last night, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum outlined the negotiations leading up to the last minute changes.

“Four days ago, we talked about some language in loss and damage. We were told that they were introducing something in the last minute. 

“It was rather ironic that just over two hours ago when we discussed the text and now there is an amendment being made to that – and that is what I call last minute without any due process being followed.”

Mr Sayed-Kaiyum again made the point that 1.5 degrees has always been a red line for Fiji and in particular low lying countries.

“What we would like to express is not only our astonishment but our immense disappointment in the manner this has been introduced and secondly that we seem to be dealing with these clauses in a very disjointed fashion. 

“There is no confluence between the earlier clauses prior to this that talks about the 1.5 degrees – indeed the impact on our ability to reach 1.5 degrees by having now what we call a phased down – which in fact has no demonstrable measurements, no methodology – how will we measure this phase down – I think that is critically important and we need to remember that I hope that all the other countries that have the capacity and the ability to be able to do so – will in fact do so. 

“Because small island states like ours don’t have the capacity.  We are reliant on the other good countries that believe in phasing out coal will do that for us.”

Later, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told journalists that he felt he was held hostage.

COP26 President Alok Sharma was emotional on stage when making the announcement about the final outcome.

When probed about whether this was because he knew that the deal was not able to protect the most vulnerable countries, Mr Sharma replied that it was heartbreaking.

“I’ve had the honour to go and visit countries around the world over the last year including those on the frontline of climate change – so when people talk about 1.5 to stay alive that’s precisely what it means, so I do understand that and I understand the sense of disappointment.

“But what was really important for me was obviously to try and get a deal over the line to ensure that all the hard work that all the hard work parties and ministers have put in over two years was not going to dissipate so we were going to get a lot of things over the line in terms of finance, in terms of adaptation, in terms of mitigation – yes, I’m sorry we could not hold the original language on coal but nonetheless we do have language on coal and I think that is a start.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bainimarama thanked the Pacific negotiation teams for helping to achieve a pathway from coal and fossil fuel subsidies in the outcome of COP26.

“The 1.5-degree target leaves Glasgow battered, bruised, but alive — and we are grateful to our tireless negotiators for refusing to compromise the security of our communities and the very existence of low-lying island nations, such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands.” 

In an all-out two-week negotiation process, parties agreed to a wide-ranging outcome document that:  

  • established a clear recognition of the 1.5-Degree Celsius goal,
  • doubled up adaptation finance as part of the US$100 billion (FJ$209.99bn) goal
  • created an independent monitoring process established until 2027, to achieve the US$100 billion (FJ$209.99bn) goal, as a guardrail for long term finance.
  • established a work programme and a goal to be determined for a new quantified goal on climate finance, post 2025.
  • created a strong works programme on oceans in the UNFCCC – an initiative that Fiji began at COP23 and began a dialogue between parties to discuss an arrangement for funding to address loss and damage. 


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