COP26 Conference Will Strengthen Climate Commitments
The COP26 summit will be in Glasgow, Scotland November 1-12. Global stakeholders hope to accelerate progress to limit the emission of greenhouse gasses. The agenda for COP26 is urgent and aggressive.
To understand why, it’s necessary to look back to COP21, which took place in Paris in 2015. Every country agreed to do what is necessary to limit global warming to another 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these goals. The Paris Agreement was born. The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming results in the loss of additional lives and livelihoods. One silver lining is that the search for solutions is leading to cleaner air, safer water, and good jobs.
Despite the opportunities we are not acting fast enough. Countries need to join forces urgently. In November, the UK and Italy will host an event many believe to be the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control. For nearly three decades the UN has brought together almost every country on earth for global climate summits, which also are known as Conference of the Parties (COP).
Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to develop national plans to reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
Participants agreed to update these plans every five years. Nations will present their updated plans in Glasgow. Every nation must be more aggressive if we hope to keep global temperatures from escalating. Failure isn’t an option.
Secure Global Net Zero By 2050 and Keep Global Temperature Increase Under 1.5 Degrees: Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets (NDCs) that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To reach these ambitious targets, countries must accelerate the elimination of coal, encourage investment in renewable energy, stop deforestation and switch to solar-powered electric vehicles as quickly as possible.
Protect Communities and Natural Habitats: The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defenses, put warning systems in place and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.
“We need to back nature with the same energy we have seen in relation to the clean technology revolution. As governments plan their economic recoveries from Covid-19, we have a rare opportunity to reconcile our economies with the natural world and deliver a greener, safer and more prosperous future,” said Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister For Pacific and The Environment.
Mobilize Finance. To realize our first two goals, developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. International financial institutions must play their part and we need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.
Cooperation and Coordination Among Stakeholders: We can only rise to the challenges of climate change by working together. At COP26 we must finalize the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement). And, we have to turn our ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster.
Unfortunately, the emission targets established at the Paris conference are not ambitious enough. Those targets will allow global temperatures to rise by at least 3 degrees Celsius by 2100. Failure to act will cause even more weather-related catastrophes, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires and more. Rising temperatures will continue to turn our oceans into dead zones that no longer support life or regulate weather.
We have made progress in recent months to bend the temperature curve closer to 2 degrees, but the science shows that much more must be done to keep 1.5 degrees in reach. The world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half over the next decade and reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. As part of the Paris Agreement, every country agreed to communicate or update their emissions reduction targets – their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – every five years to reflect their highest possible ambition and a progression over time.
These targets set out how far countries plan to reduce emissions across their entire economy and/or in specific sectors. 2020 marked the first of these five-year cycles. This means that countries are expected to update their 2030 targets before we meet in Glasgow. We are calling on all countries to update them so that they are in line with holding temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. It is especially important that developed countries and the largest emitters take the lead. While targets are important, they must translate into action, fast. Which is why developed countries must rapidly phase out coal power, and all countries should commit to not opening or financing any new coal-fired power stations across the world. Meanwhile, we must work together to provide developing countries with better support to deliver clean energy to their citizens. Forests play a vital role in removing carbon from the air. Protecting them is critical if we are going to meet our climate goals, and right now they are still being lost at the rate of a football pitch every few seconds. We are encouraging countries to work together to reform the global trade in agricultural commodities (like beef, soy and palm oil) so that sustainable production is rewarded, helping farmers to make a better living while forests are protected.
Finally, we must switch to zero emission cars, vans and trucks. The UK, for example, will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. If we send a strong signal to the industry, investment will shift more quickly to new, clean technologies.
We know that the most vulnerable populations are at the greatest risk from climate change, while they have done the least to cause it. The international community must unite and support people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of the changing climate. We need more action to avert, minimize and address the loss and damage that is already occurring from climate change. Plans and more finance are needed to improve early warning systems, flood defenses, and build resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid further loss of life, livelihoods and natural habitats.
Protecting and restoring wildlife habitat builds resilience for cities and watersheds alike. They help to build natural storm and flood defenses, while flourishing ecosystems contribute to sustainable farming and support billions of lives worldwide.
All countries should develop inclusive and collaborative plans that will defend their citizens and resources. They should start public dialogs about issues and opportunities. They must share best practices nationally and globally.
Ahead of COP26, we must reallocate trillions of dollars in private finance to power us towards net zero by the middle of the century. Every financial decision must account for its impact on climate change and resilience.
Companies must be transparent about the risks and opportunities that climate change and the shift to a net zero economy pose to their business. Central banks and regulators must make sure that our financial systems can withstand the impacts of climate change and support the transition to net zero. Banks, insurers, investors and other financial firms must make sure that their investments and lending support net zero goals.
“Right now our species is undermining and destabilizing the very foundations that are necessary for life on earth to thrive. We know that things are changing, and COP26 is one of our last and most crucial opportunities to make sure it is humanity that has to change, and not the planets,” said Bella Lack, Global North Youth Co-Chair of the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council.
The next five months are filled with stakeholder meetings that could make or break the agreements in Glasgow. Next week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will gather leaders of G7 nations, the EU and guest countries to help the world fight COVID, while building back better and greener. This meeting will likely set the tone for the COP26.
Other Important Meetings Before Glasgow:
FIFTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC-54) AND WORKING GROUP I ASSESSMENT REPORT 6 APPROVAL PLENARY 26 July – 6 August 2021
The IPCC is currently producing its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The contribution from Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change. It will provide a key input into the negotiations at COP26.
YOUTH4CLIMATE: DRIVING AMBITION 28 – 30 September 2021
Almost 400 young people aged between 18 and 29 from the 197 Parties of the UNFCCC will meet in Milan to discuss the negotiations that will take place at the Pre-COP26 in Milan and COP26 in Glasgow.
UN BIODIVERSITY CONFERENCE, 11 – 24 October 2021
The Conference will bring together the Parties and Observers to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming, China to discuss the action needed to reverse biodiversity loss and its impact on ecosystems, species and people.
GLOBAL INVESTMENT SUMMIT: BUILDING A GREEN FUTURE TOGETHER 19 October 2021 The Summit will showcase the UK’s leading global position, commitment to net zero and the investment opportunities that this provides across the whole of the UK to catalyze billions of pounds of investment for the Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution.
WORLD BANK GROUP / INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND ANNUAL MEETINGS, 15 – 17 October 2021
The Annual Meetings bring together Governors representing the shareholders on issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.
G20 LEADERS’ SUMMIT, 30-31 October 2021
The G20 brings together the world’s major economies to address shared challenges. It will focus on recovering from the pandemic and addressing climate change to ensure an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.
At the local level, Race to Zero is the UN’s global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to build a healthy, resilient, zero carbon economy.
Members commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions as soon as possible. Cities, Regions, Businesses, Investors and Universities can join the Race to Zero and take action to reach net zero emissions. Race to Zero brings together net zero commitments from a range of leading networks and initiatives, including the Business Ambition for 1.5 C campaign for corporations, the Net-Zero Asset Managers Initiative, the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance and the UN-convened Net Zero Baking Alliance for financial firms, the Under2Coalition for states and regions and Global Universities and Colleges for the Climate and many more.
Non-state actors also can join the Race to Resilience, the UN High Level Climate Champions’ global campaign to encourage businesses, investors, cities and civil society to take action to strengthen the resilience of people from vulnerable groups and communities to climate risks.