After two-weeks of discussion and deliberation between almost 200 countries, COP26 came to a close on Saturday, November 13. The climate summit ended with a final agreement, known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, and a promise by all countries in attendance to reconvene annually in order to reevaluate greenhouse gas targets. Key takeaways from the conference and the climate pact are outlined below.
1.5°C Target Alive?
There are mixed reviews on whether or not the global warming target of 1.5°C is still a viable one after the conclusion of COP26 this Saturday. A more hopeful group, that includes COP26 President, Alok Sharma, believes that this target is achievable still if every nation holds up their end of the bargain. However, experts say that pledges to cut emissions agreed upon at the conference fall short of the cuts necessary to limit temperatures, according to scientific evidence.
“We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5C alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action.”Alok Sharma
“Phasing Down” of Coal Instead of “Phasing Out”
The Glasgow Climate Pact included the first-ever international mention of fossil fuels in a pact of its kind. However this commitment was overshadowed by India’s last minute proposal stating that they would only agree to “phase down unabated coal” as opposed to the original agreement’s wording of “phase out.” India’s environment and climate minister, Bhupender Yadav, stated that this commitment reflects the circumstances of “developing economies.” John Kerry, US climate envoy, relayed that other governments had no choice but to accept this language change, otherwise there would be no agreement at all.
US & China Climate Collaboration
The world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, China, and its second largest, the US, have come together to agree to inhibit emissions and warming over the next 10 years. Together these two countries account for almost 40 percent of global carbon output annually. While the collaboration between the US and China is in itself monumental, the announcement of their future joint efforts was vague, offering no insight into just how exactly they plan on lowering greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
Poor Countries Left Vulnerable
The southern hemisphere of the world is responsible for only 10 percent of world emissions, but regularly bears the brunt of the effects of global warming. The COP26 final agreement offered no funds for “loss and damage” that countries vulnerable to natural disasters and other effects of climate change. Representatives from small island nations and developing countries, such as Mohamed Adow, director of Nairobi-based thinktank Power Shift Africa.
“The needs of the world’s vulnerable people have been sacrificed on the altar of the rich world’s selfishness. The outcome here reflects a Cop held in the rich world and the outcome contains the priorities of the rich world.”Mohamed Adow
The success of COP26 cannot be determined immediately. The world will have to wait and see whether or not its leaders keep the commitments they made in Glasgow. Former UN commissioner for human rights and chair of the Elders group of leaders and former statespeople, Mary Robinson, sums up the progress made at this two week conference:
“Cop26 has made some progress, but nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster. While millions around the world are already in crisis, not enough leaders came to Glasgow with a crisis mindset…The world urgently needs them to step up more decisively next year”Mary Robinson
The almost 200 countries in attendance at COP26 have pledged to reunite annually to continue the discussion of combating climate change, and the world will be watching to see if they proceed differently in the years to come.
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