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NEW DELHI : All the pledges to cut carbon emissions at the recent Glasgow climate change summit (known as Conference of Parties or COP 26) will only help cap global warming at 1.8 degrees Celsius, said Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive of New Delhi-based think tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

In an interview, Ghosh said developed countries putting a date to by when they could give $100 billion for mitigation and adaptation would have been one of the ways of winning the confidence of developing countries. Edited excerpts:

What did COP 26 achieve?

We have signalled that we can achieve it based on some of the announcements that were made, although the actual formal submission of all of that will only happen in 2022—the upgraded NDCs (nationally determined contributions). As long as the countries do come forward with what they have announced as formal NDCs, and then it is ratcheted up, the best case scenario brings us to 1.8 degrees (capping global warming at 1.8 degrees) which is not 1.5 degrees Celsius, but it is certainly better than 2.7 degrees Celsius where we were a week before COP meeting began.

Could developed and developing countries have done more to reach an accord?

Yes, certainly the divides can be narrowed; otherwise, why enter a negotiation? I believe that countries have underestimated the trust deficit because of the lack of fulfilment of past pledges. And this is not at all to suggest that we all don’t have a responsibility going into the future. But the reason why we have a limited carbon budget, the reason why we are facing a climate crisis already is not just a century and a century and a half of or two centuries of burning fossil fuels, but 30 years since we negotiated the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) there has been a failure to meet commitments. From 2008, when the Kyoto commitment period began until 2020, developed countries as a whole emitted 25 billion tonnes extra of carbon dioxide than they had themselves committed or were permitted under various provisions of the negotiated treaties. Even now, the net-zero commitments from the US, China and the EU (European Union) end up in a situation where they consume 90% of the remaining global carbon space that would keep us to 1.5 degrees.

Could there have been a way to bridge the gap between the developed and developing countries?

Yes, if developed countries plus China had come forward and proposed more aggressive plans of getting to net-zero, it would have demonstrated their sense of responsibility to open up carbon space for other countries. The second thing that could have bridged the divide a little bit is the actual delivery of $100 billion (annually for mitigation and adaptation.) Instead, what we saw a week before COP was a proposal to deliver that by 2023. If you look at the final text, even that is not mentioned.

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