The Conference of Parties (COP) is the apex decision-making body ensuring the effective implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A collaboration of 197 nations, the Parties have got together as a response to the rapid and adverse global climate crisis. The first ever event, COP1, of the apex body took place in Berlin, Germany. Thereafter, the COP has conducted 25 of such annual events, with COP25 held under the Presidency of the Government of Chile in Madrid, Spain in December 2019. The 26th COP event was held recently in Glasgow, Scotland, from 1st to 12th November 2021.
A pivotal movement focused on climate change, COP26 was aimed at determining the response to climate change across the globe and how well-equipped we are to respond to the potentially catastrophic disasters that lie in the not-so-distant future. It was expected to have commitments from both Government and corporate sectors, with the private players unveiling their plans to reduce carbon emissions and achieve net zero targets in the near future. In addition, many participating countries were seen undertaking pledges to optimize the use of resources including ending coal use, switching to electric vehicles, and integrating more sustainable and environment friendly activities and initiatives.
2. PRE COP26
Over 50 Ministers and high-level officials met in Milan from 30th September to 2nd October, 2021, to discuss the desired/ expected outcomes from the upcoming COP26 and further discussed the unresolved global negotiations issues. Some of the key topics of discussion at Pre-Cop26 included -
- Keeping 1.5 alive
- Scaling up adaptation
- Loss and damage
- Mobilizing finance
- Finalizing the Paris Rulebook
- Enhanced transparency framework
- Common time frames
2.1. Future Actions at Pre-COP26
The Ministers expressed a sense of urgency about the need to strengthen mitigation ambition over this critical decade in effort to match the Paris Agreement temperature goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Emphasis was also given on the importance of current science in determining what is required. Ministers also emphasized on the same. Ideas including, further measures to be taken to phase down coal and fossil fuel subsidies, investing in nature-based solutions, focusing on the remaining carbon budget, targets on methane, as well as the need for transformation beyond NDCs through sectoral targets including energy, mobility, infrastructure and biodiversity, and a global approach to carbon pricing, were pitched in by the ministers.
Bilateral consultations on accelerating mitigation ambition were confirmed by COP26 President Designate, to be taken forward in the incoming Presidency. Recognizing the importance accelerating actions towards the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) and measures to be taken for achievement of increased finance for adaptation, Ministers had an elaborated discussion. In relation to the aim to address loss and damage from climate impacts, a clear consensus amongst the ministers was evident stating that the Santiago Network must be operationalized and made functional as soon as possible. Several Ministers emphasized that decisions to be taken in Glasgow to be in accordance with the Katowice COP24 modalities, processes, and guidelines (MPGs) and related principles. This involves how to create standard reporting tables for GHG inventories, as well as common tabular forms for tracking NDC progress and providing support; and how to put the unique flexibility options in the "MPGs" into practice.
3. G-20 SUMMIT, ROME - PRECURSOR TO COP26
As a precursor to COP26, the G-20 (Group of Twenty) Summit was conducted in the last week of October i.e. 30th and 31st October, 2021. G-20 is an international consultation forum that facilitates the meeting of leaders from world's major economies under one roof. Initiated in 1999, G-20 Summit provides the Heads of State and Governments a platform to enhance coordination and deliberation over some of the major global issues and has been a yearly event since 2008. The G-20 Summit 2021 was held at Italy, Rome (Rome Summit), with the leaders group of 20 major economies coming forth to discuss the various nuances and difficulties involved in bridging their differences on combating global warming ahead of the global Summit (COP26) on climate change.
The Rome Summit led by the Italian Presidency acknowledged the inter-linkage between individuals, planet and wealth. Day one was the first in person gathering since the COVID outbreak. While the primary objective of discussion remained recovery of health and economy, the discussions planned for the two day Summit also laid major emphasis on climate and the environment. The global leaders including Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, account for global sources of largest greenhouse gas emissions, which as per renowned researchers must be steeply reduced to avoid climate catastrophe.
Speaking at the Rome Summit, the Hon'ble Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi shared how India continued to be a trusted partner on reliable supply chains, despite the challenges of the pandemic. The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi addressed the Rome Summit, emphasizing on how for the first time, all G-20 states agreed on the importance of capping global warming at the 1.5 degrees Celsius level, which as per experts is crucial to combat a catastrophic disaster.
It also marked the signing of the G-20 Rome Leader's Declaration to address the most pressing issue pertaining to the recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak. They further agreed to strengthen common response and pave the way for global recovery and development.
4. DAILY UPDATES FROM 31ST OCTOBER TO 12TH NOVEMBER, 2021
4.1. COP26 - Day 1 (31st October, 2021)
Sunday, 31st October, 2021, marked the opening of the much awaited 26th session of the Conference of the Parties, which was commenced by the outgoing President of COP - Chile's Carolina Schmidt. Ms. Schmidt began her speech by conveying her condolences to the families of those who suffered from the loss due to the widespread Covid-19 virus outbreak. Going ahead, Ms. Carolina recognized the conference as a Multi-Sectoral Transformative Change to Combat Climate Change. Furthermore, she emphasized that "Science was Non-Negotiable" and hence, should be set as the foundation of decision making in the present discussions. It was elucidated that it is an irrefutable fact that negotiations between members are vital but also inclusion of non-state actors, civil societies and private sector as a driver for innovation and technological change, needs to be taken into account. Some of the keynote speeches from day 1 at COP26 included –
- Mr. Alok Sharma, President of COP26, set the tone for the two week long global event on addressing the climate change crisis. In his opening remarks at the event, Mr. Sharma spoke about the crucial journey by highlighting how climate change continued to take its toll even during the pandemic outbreak and it is now time that we urgently respond to the crisis, which has been unequivocally caused by human action. Mr. Sharma also accepted that convincing world leaders to agree upon mitigation plans and strategies is going to be a difficult task, but it is an imperative move, as the goal towards limiting average temperature rise lower than two degrees needs to be a collaborative global effort.
- Highlighting the concept of 'Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities', India officially endorsed the Climate Equity Monitor in Glasgow, trailing after the unveiling of COP26. It lists historical carbon dioxide emissions of developed countries made by Indian climate experts. On International pedestal, India stands as the third largest emitter of carbon emissions annually but ironically, it is the sixth largest when historical emissions are considered. The nation's aim had been "Climate Justice" and disinclination to accord a fixed time frame to reach net zero in carbon emissions.
- India and UK's intergovernmental treaty-based international organisation, International Solar Alliance (ISA), is set to launch a new Green Grids Initiative at COP26. It is a commitment between both the countries to join hands on a 2030 roadmap for the Glasgow conference. In addition, it vitalizes India's vision of "One Sun One World One Grid", a multilateral drive to foster interconnected solar energy infrastructure at a global scale. Green Grid Initiative aims to encourage governments, financial organisations, and power system operators to accelerate the construction of new infrastructure needed to deliver a massive scale-up of secure, reliable and affordable power through solar energy. This initiative is anticipated to bring advancement to the promise made by the member states via the Paris Agreement 2015, to protect people and nations from the effects of climate change and to achieve the target of a sustainable future.
4.2. COP26 - Day 2 (1st November, 2021)
The event started with the tunes of Scottish bagpipes, followed by a meaningful presentation highlighting the inception and importance of the planet and race of mankind in the midst of the climate crisis and global warming issues. Some of the snippets from the speeches on the day included -
- Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi addressed the COP26 event by reiterating the nation's commitment to net-zero carbon emissions and achieving the desired target by 2070. He highlighted an admitted fact by many, that India is the only major economy to deliver on its commitments undertaken as part of the Paris Agreements in both, letter and spirit. He further affirmed that India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW and also meet 50 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030. As part of his speech, PM Modi suggested a new mantra for sustainable development, 'LIFE' i.e. Lifestyle for Environment. With lifestyle patterns and activities playing a major role in climate change, there is an urgent need for us to come together and stride towards LIFE as a movement for achieving sustainable development. Thereafter, observing climate finance to be parallel with climate mitigation, PM Modi urged developed nations to expedite the pledged climate finance of one trillion dollars.
- Prime Minister of UK, Boris Johnson, interestingly linked the ever-warming Earth's global temperature crisis to that of fictional character, James Bond - 007, who is strapped to a ticking bomb that has the ability to destroy the entire planet and the secret agent, who in this case may be referred to as the global community trying to figure out a way to defuse it. Mr. Johnson further emphasized on the importance of turning speeches and commitments made at various leaders' conferences throughout the year into strong action plans and risk mitigation strategies, which could otherwise lead to destruction of the planet. Furthermore, PM Boris Johnson, as part of the UK's Clean Green Initiative, announced a funding package, aimed at supporting the rollout of sustainable infrastructure and revolutionary green technology in developing countries, including -
- Boost Climate-related Investments: Extending guarantees to the World Bank and the African Development Bank to provide £2.2 billion ($3 billion) for investments in climate-related projects in India.
- Green-growth in Coming Years: The Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), UK's development finance institution, is expected to commit to the delivery of over £3 billion of climate financing towards green growth over the next five years.
- UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, suggested implementation of urgent mitigation plans and strategies to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030. Highlighting the principle of 'Common but Differentiated Responsibilities', Mr. Guterres held developed nations and G-20 countries responsible in particular, as they account for around 80 percent of the global emissions. Lastly, he encouraged developed countries and emerging economies to build coalitions to create favourable financial and technological conditions to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy as well as the phase out of coal.
- Mr. Charles, Prince of Wales, solicited global industries to map out the necessary transitions to be taken into account to prevent the anticipated destruction via climate change. Moreover, he elucidated the vitality of the alignment of private investment behind these industry strategies to help finance the transition efforts, which will eventually build the confidence of investors.
- Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, pointed out 3 major gaps i.e. Mitigations, Climate Changes and NDCs. She set the foundation of the conference to fill in these gaps to achieve a greater goal. Ms. Mottley linked the pledges made by nations based on technologies that are yet to be developed and further indicated that these actions are dangerous and the failure to provide critical finance to the issues of Climate Change and Sustainability have led to loss and damage being seen in livelihoods of people around the globe.
- Prime Minister of Italy, Mr. Mario Draghi, appreciated the success of the G-20 Rome Summit and the promises made by the member nations therein to contribute to addressing the climate change crisis. He emphasized on mitigating and strategising further than what has already been promised in the G-20 Summit by speeding up the commitment to keep the rising temperature below 1.5 degrees. Mr. Draghi called out for Multilateral Development Banks and especially the World Bank to join hands with Private Sector at Country based platforms to pool in finance for combating Climate Change.
- President of the United States of America, Mr. Joe Biden emphasised that major polluting countries like the United States of America and others, can join hands in aiding the smaller countries that are struggling to cope with growing floods, fires and heatwaves spurred by global heating. Mr. Biden ascertained that the United States of America will not only take action against climate change but will also become the leader of the World by setting an example in future. He recognised this summit as the inception of a transformative action to achieve the target of sustainability.
4.3. COP26 - Day 3 (2nd November, 2021)
Day 3 of the event witnessed global acceptance from leaders to take urgent action against the rapid expansion of global temperature rise by reducing greenhouse gas and methane emissions in the coming years. Additionally, as the first major deal at the event, a pledge of almost £14 billion ($19.2 billion) of public and private funds has been undertaken to put an end to deforestation by the end of the decade. The global leaders agreed to join forces to combat deforestation by 2030, while ensuring the following key points as part of the declaration:
- Conservation of forests and other terrestrial ecosystems and accelerate their restoration.
- Facilitation of trade and development policies.
- Building resilience and enhancing rural livelihoods, in accordance with relevant national legislation and international instruments.
- Implementation and redesigning of agricultural policies and programmes.
- Reaffirmation of international financial commitments.
- Increase in investments from public and private sources for forest management and local communities.
- Aligning financial flows in line with international goals to preserve forest land and avoid degradation.
Some of the major speeches of the day included -
- The European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen announced a £1 billion contribution to the Global Forests Finance Pledge. This accounts for a significant pledge providing a 5-year support package from the EU budget to help partner countries protect, restore and sustainably manage forests worldwide, thereby delivering on the Paris Agreement.
- US President, Joe Biden while addressing the forum emphasized on making this decade one that is packed with substantial collaborative ambition and innovation, which is the need of the hour, required to sustain in the near future. With the climate crisis posing an existential threat to humans and other living beings on the planet, it is imperative that world leaders embark on the transformational journey towards clean and green energy. Every passing day, the risks associated with global climate change continue to rise and every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases. President Biden further affirmed that it is the responsibility of wealthy nations, who are also the leading sources of polluters/ emitters, including the US, to provide adequate support and aid smaller countries that are struggling to cope with catastrophic effects associated with the global rise in temperatures. During his speech, Joe Biden reaffirmed the audience on building an environment that raises standards of living across the globe and committed to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions well over a gigaton by 2030. Furthermore, the President also stated that efforts were required to be undertaken to provide more affordable electricity for consumers to save on their own energy bills and tax credits for things such as installing solar panels, weatherizing their homes, lowering energy prices. He also spoke about a number of initiatives such as Build Back Better World, Global Methane Pledge, etc. which the US has undertaken in collaboration with other global partners, focused on transformative actions, reduced emissions rate and so on.
- Speaking at the global event on day 3, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi referring to the benefits associated with solar power, enunciated the 'One Sun, One World & One Grid' solution. It is aimed at addressing the concern regarding the availability of the energy source during daytime and dependence on weather. The solution will help provide a worldwide grid via which clean energy can be transmitted anywhere and anytime. PM Modi's discussions included bilateral talks with his Nepalese and Israeli counterparts and he also connected with Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to discuss ways to further achieve sustainable development and adapt mitigation climate action plans.
- President of Zambia, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, was elated to share that Zambia has recently inaugurated the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment to combat a plethora of environmental issues including that of Climate Change in a robust manner. Furthermore, in terms of Zambia's NDCs, indicators have been enabled to track the progress towards sustainability. Lastly, highlighting the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, Mr. Hichilema reiterated their ongoing mitigation and strategies towards reduction of emissions expeditiously.
- President of Indonesia, Mr. Joko Widodo, elucidated upon speedy strategies being implemented in Indonesia to combat the issue of Climate Change. He shared that they have built South East Asia's largest solar power plant and the World's largest green industrial park in North Kalimantan. Moreover, Mr. Widodo highlighted the vital role the developed nations can make by helping and supporting the developing nations in reaching the sustainability target sooner.
4.4. COP26- Day 4 (3rd November 2021)
Day 4 at the COP26, being the Finance Day, witnessed commitments to invest in billions and formation of financial institutions to expedite the journey towards achieving sustainability targets.
- Finance Minister of the U.K., Mr. Rishi Sunak, envisions the United Kingdom to become the "first-ever net zero aligned financial center in the World. Mr. Sunak elaborated that it will be mandatory for firms in the country to publish a "clear and deliverable" plan outlining their strategies to decarbonize. Moreover, he said that the U.K. will be providing £100m to the task force on access to climate finance and additionally, the country will also support a new capital markets mechanism.
- Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, was elated to share that initiatives like Nal SeJal, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Ujjwala Yojana have proven to be beneficial to Indian citizens and have intensified their quality of life. Mr. Modi was quite candid in calling out the rich and developed countries to provide $1 trillion in climate finance to the developing world to achieve global climate change mitigation targets. Ensuing are the 5 major commitments that Mr. Modi made at COP26, aimed at remodeling India's environmental and economic strategies in future:
- India will achieve net zero emissions by 2070.
- India will reduce carbon intensity by 45% by 2030.
- India will reduce projected carbon emission from now till 2030 by 1 billion tonnes.
- India's renewable energy component will be 50% by 2030.
- India will aim at 500 GW non-fossil energy capacity by 2030.
- President of the United States of America, Mr. Joe Biden, announced that post COP26, the 'First Movers Coalition' will be formed as a partnership between the World Economic Forum and the US Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. He elaborated that more than two dozen of the world's largest and most innovative companies will bring about viable alternatives to decarbonize these industrial sectors. These companies will also buy low-carbon products by 2030 to help develop green supply chains and meet the world's climate goals.
- The United States of America joined hands with Britain, France, Germany and the European Union in a multi-billion dollar partnership named as the 'Just Energy Transition' to help South Africa finance a quicker transition from coal. The initiative values around $8.5 billion in total. South Africa is the world's 12th biggest emitter of climate-warming gases and heavily reliant on ageing coal-fired power stations for its electricity.
- International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) announced the formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to develop a global baseline of sustainability disclosures for the financial markets.
4.5. Day 5 – COP26 (4th November, 2021)
As the world celebrated Diwali, the global visionaries at Glasgow undertook discussions on the theme 'Money'. Some of the key highlights from the day include –
- Sending out a loud and clear signal, almost two in three FTSE100 firms signed up to the UN's Race to Zero campaign to eliminate their contribution to carbon emissions by 2050.
- Gerry Rice, Director, Communication Department, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) welcomed India's announcement to addressing the climate change crisis by committing to new targets to increase reliance on renewable sources and reduce the carbon intensity, including the net zero target by 2070. He further stated that since India is one of the world's largest emitters, its mitigation strategies and actions may help catalyse action in other emerging market economies as well. Reiterating PM Modi's assertion, Gerry Rice affirmed India as the only country delivering in "letter and spirit" on tackling climate change under the Paris Agreement 2015.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) has been vested with the responsibility to ensure that the climate pledges made by countries during the COP26 are duly honoured. IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol shared that basis the Agency's prediction, if all countries successfully honour their respective pledges on carbon neutrality and net zero emissions; the world will be in a better position to prevent global temperature rise beyond 1.5 degree Celsius.
- President for COP26, Alok Sharma announced the pledge to end the use of coal financing this year, which is signed by 77 countries including every G-7 nation.
- The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, mentioned being encouraged by developments so far and is consciously optimistic about the successful outcome of COP26.
4.6. COP26 - Day 6 (5th November, 2021)
Day 6 at the summit being the "Youth and Public Empowerment Day", witnessed young people demanding urgent global action towards a sustainable future. The conference was co-chaired by YOUNGO, the Official Children's and Youth constituency of the UNFCCC. Ensuing are the key highlights of COP26:
- The United Kingdom announced a new £85,000 research grant to support the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre for facilitating better information on the educational needs of refugee children and enabling a more effective international response.
- India, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Africa announced partnerships with the Climate Investment Funds to accelerate their transitions away from coal power, backed by a dedicated $2 billion investment.
- Indonesia and the Philippines announced a pioneering partnership with the Asian Development Bank to support the early retirement of coal plants.
- United Nations Climate Change apprised all the parties to the conference regarding the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Synthesis Report. The Synthesis Report was requested by the Parties to the Paris Agreement, to assist them in assessing the progress of climate action. A recent report by the IPCC estimated that limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5C requires a reduction of CO2 emissions of 45% in 2030 or a 25% reduction by 2030 to limit warming to 2C. Furthermore, it indicated that if emissions are not reduced by 2030, they will need to be substantially reduced thereafter to compensate, though at a higher cost, the path to net zero emissions.
- With an intention to support the clean energy transition, a group of 25 countries including COP26 partners Italy, Canada, the United States and Denmark together with public finance institutions have signed a UK-led joint statement to end international public support for the unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022.
- Fourteen countries including India, Indonesia, Japan and Nigeria committed to the largest ever increase in product efficiency by signing up to a global goal of doubling the efficiency of lighting, cooling, motors and refrigeration by 2030 with support from the Climate Group's EP100 initiative of 129 businesses.
4.7. COP-26 Day 7 (6th November 2021)
Day 7 at the COP26 was focused on 'Nature and Land-Use day', where governments from across the Globe got together to implement corrective / preventive action for a successful transition to more sustainable ways of farming. Some of the key aspects of the day included -
- Nature and Land-Use day was followed by the announcement on 'Ocean Action Day' on 5th November, with over ten new countries signing up to the '30 by 30' target to protect 30% of the world's ocean by 2030.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) was officiated as the in-charge by the COP Presidency to ensure that the countries honor the climate pledges made during the COP26 summit.
- Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs of the United Kingdom, Mr. George Eustice, elucidated regarding the new agricultural system in England, which will incentivize farmers to farm more sustainably, create space for nature on their land and reduce carbon emissions.
- The United Kingdom made a promising commitment to launch a new £500 million package to help protect five million hectares of rainforests from deforestation, an area equivalent to over 3.5 million football pitches.
- A Global Action Agenda on Innovation in Agriculture has been launched with support from more than 150 allies including governments, researchers, farmers and businesses. The Agenda aims to accelerate efforts towards greater food security around the world.
- In another significant development, the United Kingdom announced a £6m investment into the World Bank's PROBLUE, as a part of its Blue Planet Fund to support the development of the blue economy and to act as a key driver of growth in small island developing states (SIDS) and coastal least developed countries.
- Almost 100 high-profile companies committed to becoming 'Nature Positive'. Commitments included supermarkets pledging to cut their environmental impact across climate & nature-loss and fashion brands guaranteeing the traceability of their materials.
4.8. COP-26 Day 8 (7th November 2021)
Day 8 of the event observed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) launch the "It's Possible" podcast series to inspire positive change, unpack the climate emergency, and connect science & action. Some of the other developments during the day included -
- The Multilateral Assessment (MA) of developed countries continues to take place at COP26. The developed countries are being assessed on their progress in meeting the 2020 targets. The MA aims to promote the comparability of efforts among all developed countries and further builds confidence that all developed countries are implementing climate actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its recent report revealed that the electricity demand is expected to increase by 4.5% in 2021, supported by rebounding economic activity and rapid growth in major emerging economies such as China. Moreover, it disclosed that the 4.4% drop in generation from coal was the largest ever absolute decline and the largest relative decline in the past fifty years. As per the report, the United States alone accounted for almost half of the global net decline. The European Union was responsible for an additional 23% of the decline. According to IEA, the decline is largely offset by increase in generation from renewable sources.
- A new report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), labelled as the ''Adaptation Gap Report 2021'' disclosed the need to increase the financing and implementation of actions designed to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. The report further suggested that governments should use the fiscal recovery from the pandemic to prioritize interventions that achieve both economic growth and climate change resilience. As per the report, advanced economies should also support developing countries to free up fiscal space for green and resilient COVID-19 recovery efforts through concessional finance and substantive debt relief.
4.9. COP 26 – Day 9 (8th November, 2021)
Week 2 of COP26 at Glasgow is all about ironing out the pathway for countries to transition to cleaner energy and undertake urgent action to reach the goal of capping global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Marking the day for Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day, where nations are set to further discuss ways to mitigate global warming and its catastrophic effects.
- In yet another substantial contribution, the UK is pledging £290 million to help poorer countries cope with the adverse impact of the climate change crisis. A major portion of the pledged amount is focused on helping Asian and Pacific nations plan and invest in addressing climate change, conservation of biodiversity and promoting clean energy and low-carbon development.
- While the global event saw some significant commitments over the last week, a large number of critics including environmental activists, academicians and representatives from other organizations have been seen as rather critical about the entire agenda. Civil society voices are critical about whether or not the desired outcome of COP26 will be successfully achieved. In a bold statement, Nathan Thanki from Demand Climate Justice (the second environmental constituency), commented on the Summit's legitimacy, stating that it had been seriously undermined due to restrictions in access and undue bias / opportunity to the rich countries, who made use of the global platform to make headline-grabbing announcements beyond the UNFCCC's pledge and review framework.
- Former US President, Barack Obama joined the Summit this week, where he along with other delegates intended to delve into creating a global carbon market and making progress towards commitments undertaken by nations across the globe. Additionally, Mr. Obama met young leaders attending the event, to deliberate over the youth's contribution and mitigation strategies to address/ curb the climate change crisis. During his speech, he criticized Donald Trump's "active hostility toward climate science", however, the US affirmed to lead again. A major part of his speech was dedicated to youth activism and their integral role in addressing climate change. Furthermore, he was also candid enough to call out Russia and China, for not attending such an important event, despite being two of the world's largest emitters. While he appreciated the collaborative efforts and commitments made by the world leaders last week, he re-emphasized the importance and need for much more to be done.
- As a significant outcome for India, the state of Maharashtra managed to secure the Inspiring Regional Leadership Award from Under2 Coalition Leadership Awards (focused on climate action) and became the only Indian state to win one of the three awards by U2 in Scotland. Maharashtra's Environment Minister and the youngest Cabinet Minister, Aditya Thackeray received the award on behalf of the state.
- Entering into the second and final week of the event, President of COP26, Alok Sharma reiterated the importance of countries to honor their commitments made during the event.
4.10. COP26 - Day 10 (9th November, 2021)
Day 10, the "Gender, Science and Innovation Day" at the COP26 involved undertaking initiatives focused on enhancing international cooperation between governments, academics, businesses and civil society and further, ensuring science and innovation deliver to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement 2015 for all.
- 47 countries have committed to building health systems which are able to withstand the impacts of climate change and are low on carbon emission and sustainable. These countries represent over a third of global emissions, which have now committed to adapt and resort to sustainable, low-carbon health system. 12 of these 42 countries have set a deadline of 2050 or earlier, by which their health system will reach net zero.
- Mr. Alok Sharma, President of the COP26, during his speech mentioned that there has been a new momentum from around the world to include gender at the forefront of climate action, as countries and non state actors set out gender and climate commitments such as:
- Canada to ensure that 80% of its $5.3 billion climate investments over the next five years target outcomes are derived from gender equality.
- The UK sets out how £165 million in funding will address the dual challenges of gender inequality and climate change.
- The USA commits to new funding for gender-responsive climate programming, with $14 million of the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund to be focused on advancement of women and girls' leadership aligned with climate action and promote their active participation in green industries. It also includes the $3 million investment extended to support female farmers in East Africa and help them adapt to climate impacts.
- Germany announced a new Gender Strategy under its International Climate Initiative (IKI) which will promote gender-transformative approaches in international climate and biodiversity cooperation.
- $232 million has been committed to the Adaptation Fund, the highest single mobilization to the Fund and more than double of the previous highest collective mobilization with a $20m contribution from the UK. Commitments came from the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Qatar, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Quebec and Flanders governments.
- Global leaders committed to shift towards locally-led adaptation through over 70 endorsements to the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation and over $450m mobilized for initiatives and programmes enhancing locally-led approaches [LIFE-AR, FLLoCA, CRPP and the Taskforce on Access to Finance].
- Under the 'Mission Innovation' platform first convened at COP21 in Paris - China, India, UK, the US and EU are among a cohort of 23 governments that announced new plans to catalyze clean tech investment. The platform announced new work streams on low-carbon cities, decarbonising heavy industrial sectors, scaling up renewable fuels, decarbonising the chemicals sector, producing renewable materials and scaling up man-made carbon capture technologies.
- An Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative (IDDI) has been launched, whereby nations have committed to disclose the embodied carbon in major public construction projects by 2025 at the latest.
- A group of 28 global companies spanning the mining, manufacturing and financial sectors has pledged to grow both the demand and supply of green hydrogen.
- The Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (AI), which comprises 18 national governments and the EU, has published a report outlining how governments can support AI in delivering their net-zero transitions.
- Climate Action Tracker in its recent report suggests that implementation of policies finalised at COP26 are advancing at "a snail's pace". Moreover, the report also criticized the momentum, stating it as insufficient from global leaders and governments towards 2030 climate action targets.
4.11. COP26 - Day 11 (10th November, 2021)
The "Transport Day" at the COP26 brought together leaders from across the sector to accelerate the transition to 100% zero emissions vehicles and use of clean energy.
- A new World Bank trust fund has been launched to mobilise $200 million over the next 10 years to decarbonise road transport in emerging markets and developing economies.
- The United Kingdom pledged to shift to clean trucks by committing to end the sale of most new diesel trucks between 2035 and 2040.
- 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.
- A Draft Agreement has been circulated at the world summit which calls on countries to phase-out coal power and to flesh out deeper cuts in carbon emissions by next year.
- The United States of America and China, the world's two largest emitters of carbon dioxide, unveiled the Draft COP26 Agreement to ramp up cooperation tackling climate change.
- Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Energy Minister of Saudi Arabia, elucidated that it is vital to recognize and consider the diversity of climate solutions to combat the issue of climate change. Moreover, he said, that global efforts to fight climate change should not involve the shunning of any particular energy source.
- 18 nations signed a new declaration in support of the development of emissions targets for aviation that are aligned with the Paris Agreement's 1.5C temperature pathway.
- A new 'Clydebank Declaration' united 19 nations in developing zero-emission shipping routes between ports. The object of the declaration is to establish at least 6 green corridors by the middle of this decade and longer routes in the following years.
- In the private sector, the 'Getting to Zero Coalition' has been announced involving over 200 businesses. It has also issued a call to action for policymakers, urging them to set overarching net-zero targets for the sector with pre-2050 deadlines.
4.12. COP26 - Day 12 (11th November, 2021)
Central focus of COP26 on Day 12 of the event was 'Cities, Regions and the Built Environment'. Accelerated action on the built environment sector, driven by leaders is vital for mitigation of emissions and supporting resilient communities.
- The United Kingdom promised £27.5m as new funding for the new Urban Climate Action Programme (UCAP) to support cities targeting net zero emissions. The programme, funded through International Climate Finance aims to support cities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to take climate action, create a sustainable future and become carbon neutral by 2050.
- The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has unveiled "Whole Life Carbon Roadmap" which is a tool to help businesses across the built environment sector measure and cut carbon from materials, processes, operation and demolition.
- The event marked the culmination of non-state actors, along with the government's agendas at COP26.
- The High-Level Climate Champions alongside the Marrakech Partnership, a global alliance of more than 320 major initiatives, coalitions, and NGOs, presented their five year plan, which has also been summarized in the Yearbook of Global Climate Action.
- Ministers promised the ensuing targets to overcome shared challenges to support the transition to zero emission vehicles, to be fulfilled by 2022.
- Setting out global charging infrastructure for light and heavy-duty vehicles, working closely with the private sector.
- To ensure that electricity grids are prepared to support the increased demands of electric vehicles charging.
- The Electric Vehicle (EV) battery supply chains are considered to be sustainable and ethical as the transition accelerates.
- Formation of a taskforce of government officials, multilateral development banks, international organisations to coordinate a more tailored, impactful and effective offer of development assistance, including via existing initiatives, to support the deployment of zero-emission vehicles and relevant infrastructure in developing countries.
- The "Under 2 Coalition" has been announced, where 68 cities, states and regions had signed up to a range of new cross-sector actions to be taken this decade to decrease emissions, increase climate resilience and protect biodiversity.
- The "Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance" was announced by Denmark and Costa Rica, requiring nations to set an end date for new oil and gas licensing and plans to phase out existing capacity. The Alliance includes Wales, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, Greenland, California and Quebec.
4.13. COP 26- Closing Day (12th November, 2021)
Friday, November 12th, 2021 marked the closing of the extremely significant global event on climate action and climate finance. Some of the key highlights from the final day include a series of agreements between groups of countries have been announced so far –
- In a surprise announcement, the US and China agreed to work together this decade to address, manage and limit global temperature rise
- More than 100 world leaders promised to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, including Brazil, home to the Amazon rainforest
- The US and the EU announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas methane by 2030 which help in reducing methane in the atmosphere which is seen as one of the best ways to quickly reduce global warming
- More than 40 countries committed to move away from coal, but the world's biggest users like China and the US did not sign up
- A new alliance that commits countries to setting a date to ending oil and gas use and halting granting new licenses for exploration was launched.
- The award of the "Colossal Fossil", was awarded to Australia for turning up with low targets, for declining to join international pledges to phase out coal or to reduce gas emissions, for what are seen as slack domestic emission reduction policies and for approving coal mines in the lead-up to the conference.
- The final day's draft proposals from the meeting's Chair called on countries to accelerate "the phase out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels." Negotiators at COP26 were working extra time after failing to conclude a deal on the climate crisis to rein in rising temperatures that threaten the planet.
- Mr. John F. Kerry, U.S. Climate Envoy, called government policies subsidizing oil, gas and coal production "a definition of insanity." He was of the opinion that lowering down the price of burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to rising global temperatures.
5. GLASGOW CLIMATE PACT1
The landmark event provided for increased ambition and action from countries, the key highlight being managing global temperature rise at 1.5 degree Celsius. Entering into the pact serves as a ray of hope for the planet, even though studies suggest it to be an extremely difficult outcome. Another historic development pertains to phasing out of coal, one of the most harmful fossil fuels. However, closer to the end of the event, India and China emerged as the negotiators, who pledged to the commitment by tweaking "phase out" with "phase down". When talking about transition from coal, a major concern pertains to the hard to abate sectors such as aviation, shipping, etc. which account for the largest global CO2 emitters. Nonetheless, COP26 brought to the forefront discussions on adapting initiatives to transition and rapidly scale up renewable energy adaption. The pact also includes demands from the underdeveloped nations, who asserted the triggered climate crisis as a major doing of the developed nations, which has led to an overall global downfall. Seeking significant and urgent financial contributions towards clean energy, the underdeveloped nations highlighted how in the past collecting the desired climate funds had been an extremely tedious task. Therefore, they seek expeditious climate funding against climate change in the backdrop of a growing number of climate-related disasters.
Recognizing the importance of collaboration, nations across the globe showcased their alignment to combatting climate crisis and many announced the adaptation of innovative climate action needs. COP26 has helped create a major buzz on the need to promote financial support and contribution focused on addressing the climate change crisis. While world leaders had higher expectations in terms of the outcome of the event, the pledges and commitments made, serve as a ray of hope, that there is still scope for improvement. Although climate finance and action needs to be expedited, COP26 substantially progressed on maintaining the temperature rise, reduced combustion rates, extending support and financial assistance to under-developed nations by the developed nations. The COP is a work in process and keeping that in mind, the next session, COP27 is scheduled to be held at Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt. Originally expected to be held in 2021, due to the pandemic outbreak, the event was rescheduled to 7-18 November, 2022. However, critics, activists and green experts suspect the follow up event of COP26 to be risky due to the fear of ability of the civil society groups to protest in Egypt on grounds of their authoritarian regime. There are also concerns whether or not Egypt will be able to create the required pressure on countries to raise climate ambitions and targets.
This article is for information purpose only. It is not intended to constitute, and should not be taken as legal advice, or a communication intended to solicit or establish commercial motives with any. The firm shall not have any obligations or liabilities towards any acts or omission of any reader(s) consequent to any information contained herein. The readers are advised to consult competent professionals in their own judgment before acting on the basis of any information provided hereby.