The COP26 international climate conference took place in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021. The main goal was to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep a maximum of 1.5 C degrees of warming within reach. Net zero means total emissions are equal to or less than the emissions removed from the environment.
Other goals included accelerating the phase-out of coal and mobilising at least $100bn in climate finance per year.
Major Outcomes of COP26 of UNFCCC
1. Recognizing the emergency: Countries reaffirmed the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C. They recognized that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at a temperature increase of 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C.
2. Accelerating action: Countries stressed the urgency of action “in this critical decade,” when carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent to reach net zero around mid-century. But with present climate plans – the Nationally determined Contributions — falling far short on ambition, the Glasgow Climate Pact calls on all countries to present stronger national action plans next year, instead of in 2025, which was the original timeline.
3. Moving away from fossil fuels: Developed countries came to Glasgow falling short on their promise to deliver US$100 billion a year for developing countries. Voicing “regret,” the Glasgow outcome reaffirms the pledge and urges developed countries to fully deliver on the US$100 billion goal urgently.
4. Stepping up support for adaptation: The Glasgow Pact calls for a doubling of finance to support developing countries in adapting to the impacts of climate change and building resilience. This won’t provide all the funding that poorer countries need, but it would significantly increase finance for protecting lives and livelihoods, which so far made up only about 25 percent of all climate finance (with 75 per cent going towards green technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions).
5. Completing the Paris rulebook: Countries reached agreement on the remaining issues of the so-called Paris rulebook, the operational details for the practical implementation of the Paris Agreement. Among them are the norms related to carbon markets, which will allow countries struggling to meet their emissions targets to purchase emissions reductions from other nations that have already exceeded their targets.
6. Focusing on loss & damage: Acknowledging that climate change is having increasing impacts on people especially in the developing world, countries agreed to strengthen a network— known as the Santiago Network – that connects vulnerable countries with providers of technical assistance, knowledge and resources to address climate risks.
7. One Sun One World One Grid Group (OSOWOG): It is an initiative by India and the United Kingdom to tap solar energy and have it travel seamlessly across borders. It includes a group of governments called the Green Grids Initiative (GGI) – One Sun One World One Grid group.
8. Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS): India launched it for developing the infrastructure of small island developing nations (SIDN). SIDN faces the biggest threat from climate change, India’s space agency ISRO will build a special data window to provide them timely information about cyclones, coral-reef monitoring, coastline monitoring etc.
‘Panchamrit’ commitments (five promises) made by India at the CoP 26
1. Carbon Neutrality: India will achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
2. Non-fossil energy capacity: India will bring its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030
3. Carbon Intensity: India will bring its economy’s carbon intensity down to 45% by 2030.
4. Renewable Energy: India will fulfil 50% of its energy requirement through renewable energy by 2030.
5. Carbon Sink: India will reduce 1 billion tonnes of carbon emissions from the total projected emissions by 2030.
|New deals and announcementsThere were many other significant deals and announcements – outside of the Glasgow Climate Pact – which can have major positive impacts if they are indeed implemented. These include:
Forests137 countries took a landmark step forward by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The pledge is backed by $12bn in public and $7.2bn in private funding. In addition, CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion of global assets committed to eliminate investment in activities linked to deforestation.
Methane103 countries, including 15 major emitters, signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to limit methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. Methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, is responsible for a third of current warming from human activities.
CarsOver 30 countries, six major vehicle manufacturers and other actors, like cities, set out their determination for all new car and van sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040 globally and 2035 in leading markets, accelerating the decarbonization of road transport, which currently accounts for about 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
CoalLeaders from South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, and the European Union announced a ground-breaking partnership to support South Africa – the world’s most carbon-intensive electricity producer— with $8.5 billion over the next 3-5 years to make a just transition away from coal, to a low-carbon economy.
Private financePrivate financial institutions and central banks announced moves to realign trillions of dollars towards achieving global net zero emissions. Among them is the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, with over 450 firms across 45 countries that control $130 trillion in assets, requiring its members to set robust, science-based near-term targets.