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What’s next after COP26?

COP26 was finally concluded after a two-week long conference, with nearly 200 countries agreeing to the Glasgow Climate Pact. The Glasgow Climate Pact aims to keep the 1.5C target alive and finalise outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement.

The Glasgow Climate Pact asks countries to republish their climate action plans, in addition to strengthening their emission cutting targets for 2030 by the end of next year. World leaders were able to agree on many points – including the following:

  • Coal and Fossil fuels – countries are committed to ‘phase-down’ of ‘unabated’ coal
  • Green Technology – speed up affordable and clean technology worldwide by 2030 which include, clean power, road transport, steel production, affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen, and sustainable agriculture.
  • Finance – the EU has launched a programme which will finance new technologies, the UK announced that financial firms have signed up to 2050 net-zero goals, Japan has committed an extra $10bn climate finance over five years and five countries including the UK and US have promised $1.7bn to support indigenous people’s conservations of forests and strengthen their land rights.
  • Deforestation – More than 100 countries have signed up to pledge a halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
  • Farming – Forty-five countries pledged to make farming more sustainable, including commitments on methane, investment in green agriculture and protecting nature.
  • Transport – 22 countries committed to creating ‘green shipping corridors’ and 34 countries have committed to stop the sale of non-electric vehicles by 2040.
  • Methane – many countries have committed to cutting methane emissions by 30% by 2030
  • US and China – committed to “enhanced climate actions that raise ambition” including methane emissions, transition to clean energy and decarbonisation.

The COP26 conference was intended with many goals; to secure global net zero by mid century (and keep 1.5 degrees within reach), adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, mobilise finance, and finalise the Paris rulebook – working together to deliver.
The conference has been cited as a pivotal point in dealing with climate change and elevating the profile & awareness of the climate emergency we face. Many felt underwhelmed by the outcome – particularly so when in the last few hours of the conference, both China & India changed their text from ‘phasing-out’ to ‘phasing-down’ of unbated coal. However, this is the first time that fossil fuels have been explicitly included within a UN agreement.

Since the conclusion of the conference, a lot of criticism has faced the COP26 agreement, typically stating that the agreement fell short of what is required to deal with the crisis. Whilst the COP conference is to encourage countries to stay involved, countries are not legally bound to commit to these pledges, and so, what will be key following COP26 is the action taken by the world to deliver them.

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