From October 31 to November 12, the UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. This climate summit brought together the leaders from hundreds of countries to advance towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and inspire climate action. The main goal of the climate conference was to drastically decrease total greenhouse gas emissions.
In the Paris Agreement signed at COP21, signatories agreed to limit global warming to 2°C, with a higher goal of limiting it to 1.5°C. The primary goal of COP26 was to agree on stronger action to limit global heating to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Other goals of COP26 include protecting and restoring ecosystems, increasing climate finance, and strengthening collaboration between countries to work better together. The conference resulted in the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP), signed by all participating countries, intended to strengthen the commitment to limiting climate change and reducing carbon emissions.
When countries signed the Paris Agreement at COP21, their pledges were not even close to rigorous enough to reach the goals of the agreement. Therefore, the primary goal of COP26 was to increase the urgency of the signatories’ pledges by getting countries to increase their ambitions and plans to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
During the first week of the conference, India joined the other largest greenhouse gas emitting countries (which are China, the United States, and the European Union) in committing to net-zero emissions targets, and announced it is aiming to reach this goal by 2070. After officially rejoining the Paris Agreement in February, the United States agreed to increase ambitions to cut down on methane emissions. China also agreed to the same.
The draft agreement released by the COP26 president calls upon countries to submit plans by next year for achieving net-zero emissions. The draft agreement addresses the goal to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, which will reduce the impacts of climate change significantly more than the 2°C goal previously established. The agreement also addresses that every country needs to have a plan that aligns with the goal to reduce temperature increase to 1.5°C; signatories are urged to submit their plans with new targets for reaching this goal by the end of 2022. Additionally, the draft agreement asks governments to “accelerate the phasing-out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.” The language in this statement on fossil fuels is important, as it specially includes coal and fossil fuel subsidies, which previous agreements did not address.
The draft states that “[The conference] notes with serious concern that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation is insufficient to respond to worsening climate change impacts in developing [countries].” Much of the contributions to global warming are made by wealthy, developed countries. Therefore, these countries should be responsible for providing climate financing to the developing world.
The Glasgow Climate Pact, however, does not definitively ensure that all participating countries will make the necessary changes in order to reduce global warming. Appropriate policies, technologies, and investments are necessary to keep all countries responsible for making the necessary changes for the wellbeing of our planet.
To learn about the conference and write this article, I did research on a few articles: The Results of COP26, UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 Climate Summit Draft Agreement, Boris Johnson appeals to delegates to ‘get on and do it’ as COP26 climate talk stalls. Here’s where the deal stands, What Happened at COP26 on Wednesday: China and U.S. Say They’ll ‘Enhance’ Climate Ambition, 5 things to know about the big climate conference in Glasgow, Draft Text
Featured Image by Carolyn Ellis