One year after COP26: What progress have we made?
The clock is ticking, both for the start of COP27 and the stability of the climate’s future. This year marks the 27th annual Conference of the Parties (COP), hosted by the Egyptian government in Sharm el-Sheikh. Almost every country and its leaders are gathering there to combat global warming, climate crises, and brainstorm climate action financing.
Just what this year’s conference will bring is hard to tell. In the mix of a global pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and an energy crisis, many leaders are trying to juggle a multitude of issues.
Firstly, the conference will be following up on last year’s action items. Here’s our brief breakdown of everything COP26.
Last year’s COP26 marked 5 years since the signing of the Paris Agreement and the completion of the Paris Agreement Rulebook. This collection of guidelines outlines how nations are held responsible for following through on the commitments they made and the goals they established for themselves in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), allowing for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
It also marked the creation of the Glasgow Climate Pact, which aims to curb global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and marks some of the most significant progress since the signing of the Paris Agreement. The agreement is not legally binding.
In fact, most commitments made at COP are self-policed. This means it is entirely up to the countries themselves to plan, implement, and track their progress – or lack thereof. It aimed to set a strong global precedent and progress will be reviewed at the upcoming COP27.
Other key outcomes of COP26 focused on four sectors; mitigation, adaptation, finance, and collaboration. Achievements from the conference include:
- Mitigation: Secured near-global net zero NDCs from 153 countries and future strengthening of mitigation measures including phasing down coal power, halting and reversing deforestation, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, and reducing methane emissions.
- Adaptation & Loss and Damage: New funding to send £274 million to support communities across Asia and the Pacific with low carbon technology development, and plan, invest, and fund climate change action. £100 million to the Climate Adaptation and Resilience framework programme to conduct research to help the most vulnerable people adapt to climate change.
- Finance: Mobilised more money towards the $100 billion promised by developing countries to support counties who are in need – $11 billion from Japan and $1 billion from the UK.
- Collaboration: Worked together to finalise the Paris Rulebook – agreeing the ‘enhanced transparency framework’ (common reporting of emissions and support), a new mechanism and standards for international carbon markets, and common timeframes for emissions reductions targets.
It is enough?
Global climate change has been one of the most difficult tasks to address. Alok Sharma, COP26 President, said, “its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action.”
The latest report from UN Climate Change says that the world could be on track for 2.5 degrees of warming by the end of the century with the help of combined pledges from the Paris Agreement. Between 1.5 and 2 degrees lies unparalleled chaos in communities and the natural world, with “disproportionate impacts” on indigenous people, low-lying and small island states, and fragile ecosystems like coral reefs, according to the report.
While Glasgow kept the goal of slowing emissions in reach, action, and big action at that, is required to keep us from teetering over the edge. Reporting on progress from previous commitments at COP27 from the participating 190 countries will reveal how close we are to meeting these goals, or if we are too late.
Our next blog post will look at COP27 – and what to expect.