There have been lots of climate commitments making news headlines over the past two weeks but with so many announcements, it’s difficult to know what’s actually been agreed at COP26 and what led to the final formation of the Glasgow Climate Pact. The BMC has pulled together the top headlines over the past two weeks.
Top 15 key headlines:
1) India’s net-zero target set for 2070
India outlined a net-zero emissions target by 2070 and said it would increase its low-carbon power capacity to 500 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, and meet 50% of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
Despite India being the world’s third-largest emitter, it still has one of the lowest emissions per capita (under two tonnes per person). In comparison, the UK’s averages over five tonnes per person.
2) Nepal commits to emit no net carbon between 2022 and 2045
At COP26, the Minister of Forest and Environment Nepal, announced its world leading commitment to:
Remain cumulatively ‘net zero carbon’ from 2022-2045 and become carbon negative after that
Half deforestation and increase forest cover to 45% by 2030
Ensure all vulnerable people are protected from climate change by 2030.
3) Hundreds of nations pledge to end deforestation
World leaders representing more than 100 nations, which between them play host to more than 85% of forests globally, have committed to end deforestation and reverse land degradation at COP26 in Glasgow by 2030.
The commitment is being described as a “landmark moment” for nature. The UK Government is providing £1.5bn to the initiative.
4) Nations to deliver more sustainable farming
On Nature Day at COP26, 150 organisations agreed to accelerate the deployment of green innovations for the agriculture sector, while 45 nations agreed to reform policies to support a sustainable food system.
5) Climate Justice Finance
Nicola Sturgeon pledged a £1 million fund to help developing countries deal with “loss and damage” from climate change, such as floods and wildfires. The money will come from the Scottish Government’s £6 million-a-year Climate Justice Fund, helping communities repair from and build resilience against climate-related events.
6) Big businesses to publish net-zero transition plan
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a vision to "rewire the global financial system for net-zero", outlining a mandate that all large businesses and public enterprises will need to develop net-zero transition plans by the end of 2024. Sunak claimed this should be supported and adopted by all major economies with a net-zero target in law. Sunak also confirmed that the UK Government has developed a science-based ‘gold-standard' verification scheme for the plans, to safeguard against greenwashing.
7) Green banking gains momentum
Former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney confirmed that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ), which recognises that every company, bank, insurer and investor needs to adjust their business models, develop credible plans for the transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient future and then implement those plans, now represents 40% of the world’s total financial assets, managed by 450 firms across 45 nations, from all parts of the financial industry.
8) Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement
On Energy Day, more than 190 parties, including China and Poland, as well as institutional financial organisations, agreed to a range of different measures that will signal the phasing-out of coal power from major economies by 2030 and 2040.
The commitments have been issued through a 'Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement' at COP26 in Glasgow - a statement that captures coal phase-outs from governments and the private sector in developing countries, vulnerable nations and some of the world’s largest polluters.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to break their “addiction” to fossil fuels, as it is “pushing humanity to the brink”.
9) Beyond Oil and Gas
The ‘Beyond Oil and Gas Initiative’ was also launched by Costa Rica and Denmark, with countries committing to end all new oil and gas projects, including in already licensed areas, and Global North producing countries reducing production immediately. The number of signatories was relatively small: Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Quebec, Sweden and Wales, plus California and New Zealand as associate members. It was confirmed that the UK would not join immediately.
10) Race to Zero reaches major milestone
The United Nation’s 'Race to Zero Initiative' was launched in 2020 to mobilise action towards reaching net-zero emissions. In joining Race to Zero, businesses pledge to set more ambitious targets in line with climate science and to use their reach to encourage climate action across their networks. This includes suppliers, customers and their respective sectors.
READ: Sustainable Steps for the BMC and our members
11) Methane emissions in key nations to be cut by 30% by 2030
The Global Methane Pledge, supported by countries accounting for around 45% of global methane emissions, is on course to reduce emissions by more than 50 million tonnes, according to the Energy Transition Commission. However, this is still well short of the 130 million tonnes that the Commission is calling to be reduced in order to align with a 1.5C pathway envisioned by the Paris Agreement.
12) US and China sign historic climate collaboration agreement
The US and China (the world’s two biggest emitters in terms of annual emissions) unveiled a joint declaration. They will convene a joint working group regularly, with the first meeting set for early 2022, on issues including methane emissions, low-carbon energy and deforestation. The aim will be to flesh out long-term net-zero plans with "concrete" actions to be taken this decade. The nations call for "stepped-up efforts" to close the "significant gap" that remains to a Paris-aligned world.
13) The end of petrol and diesel vehicles
The UK will end new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030 and new petrol and diesel heavy goods vehicle (HGV) sales by 2040. The declaration has been signed by more than 30 countries and dozens of businesses under a banner of working towards 100 per cent zero-emission car and van sales by 2035 in leading markets, and no later than 2040 globally. The world’s three largest car markets, the US, Germany and China, did not sign the declaration.
14) Emissions target for flying and green shipping corridors
Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Spain, Turkey, US, UK, Korea, Norway, Netherlands, Morocco, Maldives, Kenya, Finland, Costa Rica and Burkina Faso (collectively responsible for more than 40% of global annual emissions from aviation) were the first signatories of a declaration in support of the development on emissions targets for aviation that are aligned with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature pathway. The targets will be pre-2050 and developed in line with global net-zero by 2050.
There is also an aim to establish at least six green shipping corridors by the mid-2020s, which are likely to be shorter routes, and to add “many more routes”, including long-haul routes, by 2030.
15) The formation of the Glasgow Climate Pact
On 13 November, a final COP26 agreement was reached in Glasgow following tqo weeks of discussions, pledges and draft commitments. The top three commitments at a glance are that:
Every nation should set new climate targets in 2022, formulate and publish updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement for 2030 by the time COP27 begins in Egypt. They should also strive to align targets and plans with a 1.5C temperature pathway.
“Unabated” coal power should be phased down as a priority and that “inefficient subsidies” for all fossil fuels should be removed. The UK’s COP26 President Alok Sharma said he was “deeply sorry” during the final minutes of negotiations, as the language listed in the Pact was watered down. Specifically, the mention of fossil fuels has changed from a phase-out to a phase down of unabated coal. This means fossil fuel use can be exempt if combined with certain technologies like carbon capture and storage.
Proposals for a Loss and Damage finance facility were watered down, objections coming from the US and EU. This would have seen developed nations paying for the climate-driven destruction that is already happening in poorer, less industrialised nations (who have barely contributed to climate change). However, the Pact notes that the “current provision of climate finance for adaptation remains insufficient”. As such, developed countries are urged “to at least double their collective provision” of climate finance for adaptation to developing nations from 2019 levels by 2025.”
COP Pact pushes world into 2C threshold
New research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) claims that if the new national pledged and coalition targets announced at COP26 were met on time, the world would be on course for a 2.1C global temperature rise by the end of the century which is not even in alignment with the lesser ambition of the Paris Agreement. Others put the trajectory at a slightly different number, most notably Climate Resource claiming the pledges would lead to 1.9C of warming whilst Climate Action Tracker (CAT) published new analysis during COP26, stating that they are likely to result in 2.4C of warming. Either way, it seems we will fall short of the 1.5C target.
COP26 and the final Pact has sparked mixed reactions with some billing this COP as the world’s “last-chance saloon” to halt runaway global heating while others are more optimistic saying that the Pact is proof that the Paris Agreement is working. COP26 has created a foundation for nations to continue to deliver agreements and frameworks to help but it will only happen if we hold the richest, biggest emitters to strong targets to lower their emissions. Otherwise it really will amount to nothing more than blah, blah, blah.
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