The UN climate summit, which included 197 nations, ended on November 13, 2021, with the countries agreeing on the Glasgow Climate Pact (COP26) to further strengthen the Paris Agreement.
The Glasgow Climate Pact is the first-ever climate agreement to include a goal to eliminate coal, the most polluting fossil fuel. The agreement also calls for more immediate emissions monitoring and reductions as well as more funding for underdeveloped nations to help them adapt to climate change.
The pledges, though, fall short of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In this article, we'll look at the important agreements reached at the conference. Let's get started.
The Glasgow Climate Pact goes into greater detail than past UN agreements. The pact called for efforts to be made” towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” which would eventually result in “limiting global warming to 1.5C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
This is the first time that fossil fuels have been stated in a UN climate agreement. This means that it has taken 26 Conferences of the Parties (COPs) to accept that the use of coal and other fossil fuels must be decreased in order to avert the worst effects of climate change. This marks the start of the end for fossil fuels and will hasten the transition to a zero-emissions energy system.
For the first time, the pact also emphasizes the need to reduce non-CO2 emissions like methane.
Additionally, for the first time, the pact also emphasizes the need to reduce non-CO2 emissions like methane. It stressed on the significance of “protecting, conserving and restoring nature” – avoiding the contentious phrase “nature-based solutions”.
The "ratchet" mechanism was put to the test for the first time in the Glasgow Climate Pact. Countries were given the opportunity to discuss the progress they've made toward the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, which required countries to evaluate their plans every five years.
Despite significant advances in some countries' targets and policies, the 1.5C target remained a long way off for all countries. The Glasgow pact requires every country to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans by the end of 2022 to align with the Paris temperature goals, “taking into account different national circumstances”.
Countries who haven’t submitted their long term strategies for the reduction of emissions are all required to submit their plans “towards just transitions to net zero emissions by or around mid-century, taking into account different national circumstances”.
Late Payment Plan
Several nations failed to meet their goal of mobilizing $100 billion per year between 2020 and 2025 to aid countries in reducing emissions to manage the impacts of climate change. Some countries planned to surpass the $100 billion mark in 2023 and vowed to provide $ 500 billion between 2021 and 2025.
Under the Glasgow climate pact, several countries “noted with deep regret” about not being able to meet their financial targets but promised to “significantly increase support” for developing countries above the $100bn yearly target.
The agreement urges developed countries to meet their financial targets "urgently and through 2025," stressing on the necessity of accountability in determining how the pledge will be fulfilled. It calls developed countries to make their financial pledges more transparent.
Starting in 2022, the Glasgow pact would commence the process to identify long-term climate change finance targets beyond 2025, with biannual high-level ministerial discussions on the subject to keep the issue in the political forefront.
Cash to Survive
The supply of cash to assist underdeveloped countries in adapting to the effects of climate change was a big challenge. At COP26, developed countries pledged $356 million to the Adaptation Fund to aid with this. The first donation was given by the United States and Canada.
While this is a new high, it is still a long way from fulfilling the needs of developing countries, which are estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. The pact “notes with concern that the current provision of climate finance for adaptation remains insufficient”.
The European Union pleaded for more than three-quarters of the budget, pledging to provide more than twice as much as the US had offered.
The United States' and other wealthy countries' refusal to join the provision of adaptation of finance to bilateral carbon trading nearly brought the discussions to a standstill in the last hours of deliberation. African countries who fought for this proposal eventually had to settle for doubling adaptation funding from national contributions.
Determining What Constitutes Adaptation
Countries represented also decided to define what they would constitute as adaptation. To achieve this, they formed a two-year Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh labor program, giving the mandate to the Egyptian presidency to head the Cop..
Countries urged the use of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to assess adaptation efforts under the Glasgow pact. The goal of this strategy is to develop procedures, indicators, data, and metrics, as well as the support needed to monitor progress, with the goal of increasing adaptation action implementation in vulnerable countries.
Dialogue for disaster
Support for victims of extreme weather and rising seas was one of the most contentious and complicated issues at Cop26.Developing countries have strived to provide funds for people who lose their lives or properties as a result of global overheating caused by fossil fuel burning and deforestation.
A group known as the G77, made up of 134 countries and China, tabled a proposal for a finance facility dedicated to the issue during the summit's final days. Unfortunately, this move was blocked by the EU and the United States. Developed countries have always been opposed to creating a separate fund for disaster victims, believing that humanitarian aid can suffice.
However, the rich countries ended up setting up a Glasgow Dialogue to “to discuss the arrangements for the funding of activities to avert, minimise and address loss and damage associated with the adverse impacts of climate change.”
The Glasgow Climate Pact is a positive step forward and a significant improvement over the Paris Agreement. Hopefully, every country will be able to keep their pledges to have a carbon-free environment in no time.
To achieve this aim, organizations at all levels will have to monitor and reduce emissions drastically. From source testing to emissions stack testing, monitoring data will be key to achieving COP26 goals.