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The COP 26 was the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, from 31st October to 13th November 2021. COP26 brought together over 40,000 registered participants and 120 global leaders, including around 22,274 party delegates and more.
The Glasgow Climate Pact, a product of COP26, was the result of a two-week-long discussion, negotiation, and work among approximately 200 nations. Despite the amount of effort put into the talks and the Glasgow Climate Pact, the collective political will wasn’t enough to overcome a few contradictions.
The Glasgow Climate Pact called on 197 countries to deliver regular climate progress reports until next year, at COP27, held in Egypt. The Pact secured a global agreement to accelerate emission reductions this decade.
The Pact included several agreed decisions, including strengthening efforts to build climate change resilience, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing the necessary funding, and more. Several developed nations agreed to fulfill their duty and pledge to provide finances- approximately 100 billion dollars per year– to developing and vulnerable countries.
Countries agreed to work to reduce the gap between current emission reduction measures and what is genuinely required to reduce emissions so that rising global temperatures do not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. All countries were called to gradually reduce unabated coal power and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.
Among other decisions, statements, and resolutions, governments were requested to provide tighter deadlines for updating their approaches and measures to reduce emissions.
Half a year after the COP26, it is still unclear whether countries are delivering on their promises. According to the President of COP26, Alok Sharma, failure by nations and world leaders to fulfill their pledges would be a monstrous act of self-harm. It has now become difficult to cut emissions drastically due to the Russia-Ukraine war and the cost-of-living crisis. However, climate change is a serious danger the world cannot ignore.
According to Sharma, the Ukraine war has shown that climate security means energy security. It is necessary for countries to break their dependency on fossil fuels. The UK government is currently looking for ways to strengthen its climate plan 2030. But so far, no countries have submitted their plan and progress reports that go beyond previous plans promised at the COP26.
According to a few experts, it is unlikely that countries will deliver on their promise or submit progress reports until the next climate summit in November- COP27. The COP27 will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. People are expecting the host country to at least come up with a new plan. Besides these expectations, figures in climate diplomacy hope for updated reports and stricter plans to cut emissions in individual sectors, such as transport and forests, rather than more drastic targets.
According to Pete Betts, a former lead climate negotiator for the European Union and the UK, developed economics had already submitted ambitious goals before the COP26. For example, the United States promised to reduce emissions to half by 2030. However, none of the emerging and developing economies, except South Africa, made any ambitious moves.
Betts further adds that it was clearly evident in Glasgow that countries were unlikely to revise climate plans. He states that if countries were going to revise them, they would have done it in Glasgow itself. All signs indicate that it is not going to happen at COP27 either. Egypt is not putting pressure on other countries to raise and update their targets.
According to US special envoy John Kerry, the Ukraine war is no excuse for ignoring climate change targets. Countries are using this excuse to build coal plants and whatnot.
Experts are seeing no ambitions from countries today. Coal production will likely increase in the US and China this year. India has relaxed some of its environmental rules to increase coal mining to cope with the demand for power during a severe heatwave caused by climate change and the burning of coal. Brazil, the country that pledged to stop deforestation by 2030, has seen Amazon deforestation in April at the worst level since 2016.
Several leaders, experts, and a few countries agreed that the ambitions were ‘disappointing’ and not enough. According to the Maldives’ top negotiator, the targets set at COP26 are a step forward; however, they are not in line with the progress needed. It will be too late for them as the Maldives is already threatened by flooding and heatwaves. He further adds that the deal will not bring hope to the hearts of Maldives citizens.
COP27 is five months away, yet it doesn’t have an official website. If more substantial and immediate climate plans are not submitted by all countries in the coming climate summit, temperatures will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, resulting in catastrophic disasters.