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COP26: Key outcomes

The latest UN climate conference, Conference of the Parties 26 (COP26), took place in Glasgow. After being delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, this round of talks has been billed as the most important climate talks since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.

Here are the key announcements.

  1. Some progress on emissions

The Paris Agreement said temperatures should be limited to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and countries should “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5°C.

The Glasgow Climate Pact, which was signed by all 197 parties, is incremental progress and not the breakthrough moment needed to curb the worst impacts of climate change. The UK government as host and therefore president of COP26 wanted to “keep 1.5°C alive”, the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.

Before COP26, the world was on track for 2.7°C of warming, based on commitments by countries, and expectation of the changes in technology. Countries accounting for 90% of the world’s GDP have now pledged to go Net Zero by the middle of this century and it is estimated that announcements at COP26, including new pledges to cut emissions this decade, have resulted in the best estimate of 2.4°C.

  1. Further cuts could be on the horizon

Under the Paris Agreement, new climate plans are needed every five years, but the final text of the Glasgow Pact notes that the current national climate plans, nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are far from what is needed for 1.5°C. It also requests that countries come back next year, instead of 2030 as planned, with updated plans to help ratchet up ambition this decade.

The Glasgow Climate Pact also states that the use of unabated coal should be “phased down”, as should subsidies for fossil fuels. The wording is weaker than the initial proposals for a “phase out” of coal. But this is the first time fossil fuels have been mentioned in a UN climate talks declaration.

  1. Carbon markets

A series of negotiations over article 6 of the Paris Agreement on market and non-market approaches to trading carbon was finally agreed. This would allow countries to partially meet their climate targets by buying offset credits representing emission cuts by others.

Negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework were also concluded, providing for agreed tables and formats to account and report for targets and emissions.

  1. Zero emission vehicles

As one of the Breakthroughs at the World Leader Summit, 30 countries agreed to work together to make zero emission vehicles the new normal by making them accessible, affordable, and sustainable in all regions by 2030 or sooner.

Nineteen governments also stated their intent to support the establishment of “green shipping corridors” and the UK pledged to shift to clean trucks by committing to end the sale of most new diesel trucks between 2035 and 2040.

The launch of a new World Bank trust fund that will mobilise $200M over the next 10 years to decarbonise road transport in emerging markets and developing economies was also unveiled.

What’s next?

The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The agenda for the conference has not yet been unveiled, but Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the country would work to make the conference “a radical turning point in international climate efforts in coordination with all parties, for the benefit of Africa and the entire world”.

The United Arab Emirates was selected to host the COP28 international climate conference in 2023.

 

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