GLASGOW: HH the Amir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s Representative, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, affirmed Kuwait’s keenness to adopt a national low-carbon strategy until 2050. During his speech at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26), the Amir’s Representative said the national strategy is based on a circular carbon economy to promote the reduction, disposal, reuse and recycling of greenhouse gases. The strategy will be supported by the enactment of relevant legislation and laws to reduce emissions and adapt to their negative effects at the national level, in line with local, regional and international environmental obligations, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said.
Sheikh Sabah added climate change is one of the serious challenges facing the international community at this time, and combating it has become a priority for all countries. “The State of Kuwait, in compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement, updated its contributions document on October 12, 2021, whereby Kuwait contributes to a package of development projects based on a vision that would avoid an increase in greenhouse gases equivalent to 7.4 percent of its total emissions until 2035,” the Kuwaiti prime minister said.
Sheikh Sabah said Kuwait attaches great importance to diversifying the country’s energy sources by introducing renewable energies and replacing fossil fuels with liquefied gas to ensure the sustainability of energy supplies for future generations. Moreover, he noted that Kuwait has distinguished regional and international contributions to the preservation of the environment and natural resources in the world. The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development has mitigated the environmental repercussions resulting from the receding of the Aral Sea in Central Asia and Lake Korley in Ghana, and the reduction of radiation resulting from the Chernobyl reactor blast, he said.
Recently, the fund contributed to implementing a project to reduce dust, sandstorms and cross-border dust between Kuwait and Iraq, with the aim of reducing approximately 40 percent of the chances of their occurrence, Sheikh Sabah added. On Monday, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled met US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the COP26 summit. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed the deep-rooted relations between the two friendly countries, and the latest developments on both regional and international arenas.
Meanwhile, dozens of countries yesterday joined a United States and European Union pledge to cut emissions of methane – the most potent greenhouse gas – by at least 30 percent this decade, in the most significant climate commitment so far at COP26. The initiative, which experts say could have a powerful short-term impact on global heating, followed an announcement earlier yesterday in which more than 100 nations agreed to end deforestation by 2030.
“One of the most important things we can do between now and 2030, to keep 1.5C in reach, is reduce our methane emissions as soon as possible,” said Biden, referring to the central goal of the 2015 Paris agreement. He called the pledge, which has so far been signed by nearly 100 nations, a “game-changing commitment” that covered countries responsible for around half of global methane emissions.
European Commission head Ursula Von der Leyen said that the methane cut would “immediately slow down climate change”. “We cannot wait until 2050. We have to cut emissions fast and methane is one of the gases we can cut the fastest,” she said. Heads of state and government are gathered in Glasgow for a two-day high-level summit that host Britain is hoping will kick start ambitious climate action during the two-week COP26.
Organizers say the ensuing shuttle diplomacy and painstaking negotiation will be crucial for the continued viability of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and its goal to limit temperature rises to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. While the summit’s first day passed with much rhetoric but only lukewarm climate pledges, Yesterday’s twin announcements were broadly welcomed by campaigners.
Decades of climate pledges have been rooted in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Yet methane (CH4) is more than 80 times more potent than CO2, and its sources, such as open pit coal mines and livestock, have received relatively little attention until now. The International Energy Agency estimates that the fossil fuel industry emitted 120 tons of methane in 2020, and much of it can be easily avoided.
A UN report from earlier this year showed that “available targeted methane measures” could see CH4 levels reduced by 45 percent by 2030. This would shave 0.3C off projected warming, save a quarter of a million air pollution deaths and increase global crop yields by 26 million tons, the UN’s Environment Program said. However, major emitters China, India, Russia and Australia did not sign the pledge.
Earlier yesterday, countries made a multibillion-dollar pledge to end deforestation by 2030. But the promise was met with skepticism from environmental groups, and although details were sparse, it appeared to largely resemble a similar pledge made by more than 200 countries and organizations in 2014. The British government said that the plan to drum up around $20 billion in public and private funding had been endorsed by more than 100 leaders representing over 85 percent of Earth’s forests, including the Amazon rainforest.
The summit pact to “halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030” encompasses promises to secure the rights of indigenous peoples, and recognize “their role as forest guardians”. While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the pledge as “unprecedented”, a UN climate gathering in New York in 2014 issued a similar declaration to end deforestation by 2030.
An assessment earlier this year found that seven years on from the pact, virtually no government was on course to fulfil their responsibilities. Trees continue to be cut down on an industrial scale, not least in the Amazon under the far-right government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Humans have already cut down half of Earth’s forests, a practice doubly harmful for the climate when CO2-sucking trees are replaced with livestock or monoculture crops. The laundry list for COP26 remains daunting, with pressure on leaders to commit to faster decarbonization and provide billions to nations already dealing with the fallout of climate change.
Meanwhile, chaotic scenes continued yesterday around the COP26 venue, with attendees queueing around the block awaiting security checks. By early afternoon, the UN organizers sent a text alert asking people to stay away from the venue “in order to ensure compliance with COVID-19 measures”. – Agencies