What are COPs?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international treaty that was drafted in 1992 and became effective on 21st March 1994. The treaty was created to combat “dangerous human interference with the climate system” through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Since the treaty came into effect there have been yearly conferences, termed Conference of the Parties (COPs), for parties involved to assess the progress in dealing with climate change goals which have been agreed to. The conferences also serve as meetings to assess progress on legally binding agreements made within the Kyoto protocol in 2005 and the Paris agreement in 2015.
COP26 – who was involved?
2021 saw the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as COP26 take place in the SEC Centre in Glasgow from 31st October to 13th November. The conference was the 16th meeting since the Kyoto Protocol and the 3rd meeting since the 2015 Paris Agreement and included discussions and negotiations between representatives from 197 attending parties. These parties included representatives from the following countries:
|Argentina Australia Canada Colombia Democratic Republic of Congo EU representatives from the 27 member states||France Ghana India Israel Italy Nigeria||Scotland South Korea Sweden Switzerland US|
COP26 – what are the key outcomes?
The main result from the COP26 was an 11-page Glasgow Climate Pact which was developed through agreed consensus of the 197 attending parties. The pact was divided into four main sections including:
- Mitigation– a number of pledges were made by countries covering net zero emission targets, coal use, methane emissions, deforestation and electric vehicles
- Adaption, Loss and Damage – many countries are now covered under climate adaptations programmes to increase preparedness to climate risks. Adaption finance goals have been pledged to be double the levels of 2019 by 2025.
- Finance– a post 2025 climate goal will be set in 2024 which continues on from the pledged $100bn raised every year from 2020 for developing countries
- Collaboration– collaborations between governments, businesses and civil society have been created and encouraged to deliver on climate goals faster, whilst collaborative councils and dialogues in energy, electric vehicles, shipping and commodities will help deliver on commitments. A “Paris rulebook” was developed, which lays out rules for the international trading of carbon emission allowances between countries.
Within the mitigation measures agreed to at the summit, a number of pledges were made, some fo which are summarised below:
|Pledge||No. Countries involved|
|Commit to reaching net zero emissions||153|
|Commit to phase out domestic coal||46|
|End new direct international public support for fossil fuels by end of 2022||29|
|Reverse effects of deforestation by 2030||137|
|Sale of new cars to be zero emission by 2040||Over 30|
|Reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030||Over 100|
Reaction to COP26 pact
During the time of the summit, there was a march against inadequate action taken by COP26 on 6th of November within Glasgow. The protest was said to be the largest protest in the city since the anti-Iraq War marches in 2003.
Suffice to say there were mixed reviews of the final pact. Some scientists and researchers were pleased to see efforts from many countries in making new emissions reduction targets in order to “close the gap” on the 1.5°C temperature rise agreed in the Paris agreement, alongside official pledges to reduce the use of coal. However, many scientists were dissatisfied at the lack of stronger commitments to reduce emissions, as according to analysis published on the Climate Action Tracker during the week of COP26, global temperatures were still set to rise 2.4°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, even with the 2030 emissions reductions targets.
Another issue raised with the pact was the failure by nations to agree on a “loss and damage” fund which was proposed as a type of insurance policy to compensate climate-vulnerable countries for damage resulting from emissions that they did not create. However, the COP26 pact does include plans for a technical assistance facility that will carry out research on proposals such as this.
Many agree that COP26 is an important steppingstone to keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C, but it leaves a lot of work to be done between now and COP27 in Egypt in 2022.