COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Glasgow, Scotland. It attracted global attention as nations discussed climate challenges.
The conference saw the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact, which aimed to transform the 2020s into a decade of climate action and support. This pact focused on
- Building resilience to climate change.
- Reducing emissions from greenhouse gases.
- Providing financial assistance to vulnerable countries.
Several outcomes emerged from COP26.
- Nations revisited their climate pledges from the Paris Agreement. They maintained their goal to keep global warming well below 2°C.
- Countries also committed to enhancing their climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by the end of 2022.
- In addition, they agreed to discuss the new global climate finance goal, effective post-2025. This ensures that financial support for climate action continues to grow.
Critics argued that COP26's outcome was a compromise, reflecting the world's current political will.
While the meeting marked an important step, it inadequately addressed the urgent need for global climate action. Nevertheless, COP26 set the stage for future discussions and progress towards a greener, more sustainable planet.
Key Outcomes of COP26
Glasgow Climate Pact
The Glasgow Climate Pact resulted from intense negotiations among nearly 200 countries during the COP26 summit. It focused on pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, with all countries expected to reassess and strengthen their emissions reduction targets by 2022.
Coal Phase-Out versus Phase-Down
Participants discussed the phase-out of coal and the reduction of fossil fuel subsidies. However, the final text only mentioned a "phase-down" rather than a "phase-out" of coal use. This followed last-minute changes led by China and India. This decision was considered a compromise but still marks the first time a COP agreement explicitly mentions coal.
Methane Emissions Reduction
Over 100 countries pledged to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. This commitment is significant because methane is a potent greenhouse gas and a major contributor to short-term climate change. Russia, a large methane emitter, did not join the pledge.
More than 100 world leaders committed to ending deforestation by 2030 at COP26. They also pledged to increase the restoration of forests globally. The commitment includes provisions for protecting indigenous peoples and local communities, often at the forefront of conservation efforts.
Climate Finance for Developing Nations
Developed countries promised to increase climate finance for developing countries, following up on the promise of $100 billion per year in the Paris Agreement.
Although the $100 billion target was missed in 2020, wealthy countries committed to ensuring it would be reached by 2023. They also agreed to initiate discussions on setting new climate finance targets beyond 2025.
Additionally, COP26 focused more on addressing the loss and damage caused by climate change and its irreversible impacts on communities, livelihoods, and natural resources.
Nationally Determined Contributions
COP26 took place in Glasgow to reinforce the Paris Agreement. NDCs are central to this, as they indicate each country's climate change efforts.
At COP26, 151 countries submitted new NDCs to reduce emissions by 2030. Countries aimed to strengthen their targets by 2022.
Country Focus: Australia, Brazil, United States
- Australia faced criticism for weak climate actions but later pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
- Brazil partnered with the UK to protect the Amazon rainforest and restore degraded areas.
- The United States rejoined the Paris Agreement under Joe Biden and aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Support for Developing Countries
COP26 emphasised supporting developing countries' climate change efforts (source). The Glasgow Climate Pact aimed to strengthen resilience, curb carbon emissions and provide finance.
Climate Finance and Support
Funding for Vulnerable Countries
COP26 saw nations coming together to commit to climate finance for vulnerable countries. Developing and poor nations need support to build resilience to climate change. Efforts were made to curb greenhouse gas emissions and provide financial assistance. This support will help them tackle and adapt to the effects of climate change.
Global leaders pledged to deliver $100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020. However, they still need to reach that target. In response, they will improve the predictability, transparency, and accessibility of funding. The goal is to help vulnerable countries take practical climate actions.
Loss and Damage
Another critical outcome at COP26 was the acknowledgement of loss and damage. This concept focuses on the irreversible impacts of climate change. Nations agreed to increase support for those facing these challenges.
To address loss and damage, the Glasgow Climate Pact established a dialogue. This dialogue will work on enhancing cooperation, action, and support. The aim is to find innovative ways to address irreversible impacts on vulnerable countries.
In summary, COP26's focus on climate finance and support is aimed at assisting vulnerable countries. Increasing funding and addressing loss and damage are crucial steps in climate action.
Clean Energy Transition and Net Zero Targets
Renewable Energy Commitments
At COP26, countries focused on renewable energy in their climate pledges. They aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net-zero targets. This shift supports the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5°C.
- Many nations increased their renewable energy production
- Public and private sectors collaborated to drive change
- Countries targeted net-zero emissions by mid-century
Phasing Out Internal Combustion Engines
Another critical step was to phase out internal combustion engines. The Glasgow Climate Pact promotes cleaner alternatives.
- Over 30 countries agreed to phase out sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030
- Electric vehicles and green technologies garnered support
- Cars will increasingly rely on clean energy sources
The COP26 outcomes focused on the clean energy transition and net-zero targets. Renewable energy commitments and phasing out internal combustion engines are essential steps. These measures aim to address climate change and achieve a sustainable future.
International Carbon Markets and the Paris Rulebook
Global Carbon Market
COP26 resulted in a strong outcome for international carbon markets, finalising the Paris Rulebook after six years of complex negotiations. The Paris Agreement, established in 2015, set the framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the Paris Rulebook provides the details for implementing these pledges.
A significant development at COP26 was the agreement on rules for carbon trading, which allows for creating a global carbon market. Carbon markets can help lower costs, attract investment in clean innovation, and accelerate emissions cuts in developing countries.
While not perfect, the agreed Article 6 rules provide countries with tools for environmental integrity and to avoid double counting.
Under the Paris Agreement, the global carbon market replaces the Kyoto Protocol's carbon market mechanisms. This new market aims to be more comprehensive and effective in facilitating emissions reductions.
Paris Rulebook Implementation
The Paris Rulebook addresses several crucial issues, including:
- Carbon trading: Countries can now trade emission reductions, allowing them to meet their climate commitments more effectively.
- Environmental integrity: Strict rules ensure the high quality of traded emission reduction units and their proper accounting.
- Avoiding double counting: Measures have been implemented to prevent the same emission reduction from being claimed by more than one country.
Many countries, including wealthy nations and developing countries like Saudi Arabia, have a stake in the success of international carbon markets. Implementing the Paris Rulebook is crucial in providing a clear pathway for all participating countries to work together and address the climate emergency.
Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and Calls for More Action
Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) was launched at COP26. BOGA is a diplomatic effort between 12 countries and regions. Its goal is to phase out fossil fuel production to address the climate crisis.
Calls for More Action
While COP26 took some steps, governments need to do more. New coal, methane, transport and deforestation pledges were announced. They could move the world 9% closer to keeping heating to 1.5C.
However, nations must raise their ambition for emissions reductions and net-zero pledges. Climate leaders will be questioned if governments continue supporting oil and gas production.
Protests and Activists
Protesters and activists were present at COP26 too. They called for more robust measures against the climate crisis. According to Oil Change International, most progress happened outside negotiation rooms.
Activists urged governments to end trillions in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. Some leaders were criticised for not joining BOGA. Those who didn't join failed to commit to phasing out oil and gas extraction.
Summary: What happened at COP26
COP26 was a significant climate change conference held in Glasgow and facilitated by the United Nations. The primary outcomes included the Glasgow Climate Pact, commitments to reduce methane emissions, and ending deforestation. Countries also agreed to strengthen their 2030 targets and phase out coal power.
- At COP26, over 100 countries agreed to slash methane emissions. They also signed a pact to end deforestation. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, and forests absorb carbon dioxide.
- A total of 140 countries committed to strengthening their 2030 targets. Additionally, 190 countries agreed to phase out coal power and end public funding.
- The Glasgow Climate Pact was one of the headline outcomes. This pact aims to turn the 2020s into a decade of climate action and support.
- Countries agreed to fulfil their climate finance goals as soon as possible. They also committed to developing a new, larger climate finance goal for 2025.
- The Glasgow Climate Pact also includes decisions about improving resilience to climate change and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
COP26 produced significant agreements, such as the Glasgow Climate Pact and various commitments to reduce emissions. Countries also focused on climate finance and building resilience. Although challenges remain, COP26 marked an important step forward in international climate action.