Commitments signed at COP26 are binding, with no penalty for non-compliance

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After the COP26 document, in Glasgow, Scotland, is approved, it is time for the 196 countries to do their homework: fulfill the agreements, goals and plans, which are binding – a term used to classify the promises that bind and integrate the nations.

“The agreed upon pacts must now be fulfilled. The market can be one of the controllers of this, not only the market but society itself through voting, through protests, through consumption. I believe that more and more, if the agreement is appropriate, it becomes more and more binding”, emphasizes the Global Manager for Climate and Energy Policy at WWF International, Fernanda Carvalho.

This Saturday (13), representatives of nearly 200 are meeting, in a plenary session, to approve parts of the Paris Agreement, which were pending, and the other deliberations of this Climate Conference. Despite the signatures, there is no legal sanction if the binding commitments are not fulfilled in the coming years.

“It’s a big dilemma, but it’s how International Law works, which is based on the principle ‘pacto assunt servanta’, from the Latin, which means that what is agreed must be fulfilled. And the Nordic countries are good examples in fulfilling the pacts, simply because they were agreed. Of course, we would like the Paris Agreement to have a binding penal mechanism that punishes countries that deviate from the target, but the document has a non-punitive nature”, comments Fernanda.

An example of market pressure is the creation of a carbon tax on imported products in the European Community. The carbon boundary adjustment mechanism (CBAM) would be a way to protect the region’s industries from foreign competitors that do not meet the same environmental standards.

One of the goals is to prevent carbon leakage, when the industry transfers its production to countries where carbon is cheaper and, therefore, has competitive advantages in relation to those that pay the price of decarbonization.

It is worth remembering that the countries that signed the Paris Agreement (in 2015 and now regulated in Glasgow) promised to present their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) every five years – which are the climate plans with targets to be followed in this period .

“The goals have to be strengthened. This is what binds countries, countries are committing every five years to increase their climate ambition. This is a binding commitment. There is a committee to deal with these issues of compliance with the agreement or not, but it is not like a court that is going to condemn a country. But we see that more and more lawsuits are taking place at the national level. In Mexico, Greenpeace won a lawsuit and Mexico will have to reformulate its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)”, recalled Fernanda.

In addition to the Paris Agreement

Regarding the other promises announced at this COP and which are not part of the Paris Agreement, and consequently are not binding, Fernanda comments that “of course they are positive”.

“These are important commitments such as reducing deforestation by 2030 and reducing methane by 30%, which will mean 0.2 degrees less in temperature. All of this is important and shows that countries are having positive attitudes, but ideally these commitments could be incorporated into Nationally Determined Contributions NDCs), which countries have to submit to the convention every five years. In this case, we would be able to measure, report and verify the real contribution of these commitments within the goals that the countries agreed here (at COP 26) and to maintain the temperature at 1.5 degrees.”

The coordinator of the Climate Observatory’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Estimation System, Tasso Azevedo, explains that the peers themselves review the Greenhouse Gas inventories released by each country, that is, nation A audits the inventory of nation B and vice versa. Furthermore, methodologies for accounting for emissions and remissions (how many pollutants are captured) change frequently.

“That’s why they say that Brazil would have carried out a climatic ride. This is because our country carried out two revisions of net greenhouse gas emissions related to the year 2005, the third being lower than the second (2.8 GtCO2e). This latest inventory (2.4 GtCO2e) is the basis for calculating the goals announced at the COP. Because of this, in practice, Brazil’s goals remained the same, despite the government having announced that they increased from 43% to 50% by 2030”, concludes Tasso.

A CNN contacted the press office of the Ministry of the Environment, but so far has not received an answer about the change in the calculation basis for the announced target.

Reference: CNN Brasil

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