COP 26 Promises Progress: United Nations Climate Change Conferences, aka Conference of the parties (COP) has been held every year since 1995. These conferences are held to check progress of countries dealing with climate change. The intention is also to negotiate the obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations. Industrialised nations agreed under the Convention to support climate change activities in developing countries by providing financial support for action on climate change.
What is COP26?
In 2021, 26th UN Climate Change Conference was held at Glasgow, Scotland from 31 Oct-13 Nov 2021.The conference is also known as also known as COP26. The conference was the first since the Paris Agreement of COP21 that expected parties to make enhanced commitments towards climate change. The result of COP26 was the Glasgow Climate Pact, negotiated by representatives of the 197 attending parties.
What was agreed?
It was agreed countries will meet next year to pledge further cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide. This is an attempt to keep temperature rise within 1.5° C – which scientists say is required to prevent a “climate catastrophe”.
Current pledges, if met, will only limit global warming to about 2.4° C.
137 countries took a landmark step forward by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The pledge is backed by $12bn in public and $7.2bn in private funding.
103 countries, including 15 major emitters, signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to limit methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, compared to 2020 levels. Methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, is responsible for a third of current warming from human activities.
Over 30 countries, six major vehicle manufacturers set out their determination for all new car and van sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2040 globally. And, 2035 in leading markets, accelerating the de-carbonization of road transport.
Leaders from South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, and the European Union announced a ground-breaking partnership to support South Africa – the world’s most carbon-intensive electricity producer— with $8.5 billion over the next 3-5 years to make a just transition away from coal, to a low-carbon economy.
Private financial institutions and central banks announced moves to realign trillions of dollars towards achieving global net zero emissions.
Among them is the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, with over 450 firms across 45 countries that control $130 trillion in assets
COP 26 Promises, Current Condition
Half the world’s forests are in just five countries – Russia, Brazil, Canada, the US and China. Therefore, the actions of these countries could make a big difference. In April, US President Biden signed an order to protect old-growth forests on government land. But in Brazil – home to more than half of the Amazon rainforest – deforestation is up 69% on last year. Another challenge is in Russia, which is facing a significant wildfire season. It lost 6.5 million hectares of forest to fires last year.
Last year, methane levels had seen their biggest annual increase since records began, as per National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Farming and the energy sector are the main sources of methane – and the increase in oil and gas use as Covid measures ease could be partially responsible.
Countries were given a deadline of September to submit new plans. But, currently only 11 countries out of 196 have done so. Recent analysis suggests that China has seen a continuous reduction in emissions since summer 2021. This could have a significant impact as it is responsible for 27% of the world’s emissions. Also the Ukraine-Russia war has a major effect on COP 26 pledges. While we were to move away from fossil fuels it looks like Europe will again start using coal powered power plants by this winter. Europe has banned Russia supplied gas and fuels and has no alternative other than fossil fuels to run their economy.
India on COP26 commitment
Prime Minister Modi has set aggressive targets for low-carbon power by 2030. However, India – the largest consumer of coal – announced in April that it was increasing production of coal power and reopening 100 plants. Which is a significant blow to the targets set.
NITI Aayog also launched two initiatives on E-Mobility. E-AMRIT (Accelerated e-Mobility Revolution for India’s Transportation) mobile application to raise awareness on electric mobility and the Report on Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Reuse and Recycling Market in India, both are part India’s commitment at COP26.
India is the fifth largest and fastest growing vehicle market in the world. The shift to Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) is creating one lakh of new e-mobility jobs, driving down technology costs, ensuring clean air and reducing our reliance on imported fuels.
Egypt will host COP 27, this year in November. This year should witness the implementation of the Glasgow pact to review ambition. COP27 will be a moment for countries to fulfil their pledges and commitments towards delivering the objectives of the Paris Agreement. And, they should act now rather than talk.
- COP26: Efforts continue for new agreement on environment
- Which countries are working better in achieving climate goals?
- A new promise from India to save the world
- James Hansen the man who broke news of global warming 34 years ago
- Earth has a deadline, but we have a chance to reset the clock