Cop26: The Glasgow summit’s final agreement

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Climate Justice Activists at the Cop26 Gates asking delegates as they make final decisions, "Are You With Us Or With Fossil Fuels?" during the official final day of the Cop26 summit in Glasgow

UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) has ended this year after more than two weeks of discussions and negotiations.  At the end of the COP26 UN Climate Conference, the European Commission supported the consensus reached by over 190 countries.

COP26 resulted in the completion of the Paris Agreement rulebook and kept the Paris targets alive. It is giving us a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The summit wrapped up almost a day late with a set of final. The agreement is not yet enough to put the world on a path to holding global warming to 1.5 degrees, but commitments made should both reduce emissions this decade and accelerate momentum.

It calls on countries like Australia that did not improve their 2030 targets before Glasgow. It urges them to do so as soon as possible before the next round of talks in Egypt next November. It recognizes that to keep 1.5 degrees in reach, urgent action must be taken this decade; and to encourage that, it calls for an annual stocktaking of how countries are tracking. That is along with annual ministerial meetings to accelerate action. Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Analytics warned,

“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net-zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net-zero targets are just lip service to real climate action. Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.”

COAL

The summit failed to commit to the elimination of coal as hoped after furious last-minute horse-trading saw language in the pact watered-down from a “phase out” to the much weaker “phase down” of unabated coal power.  In a side-deal to the formal talks, 23 countries pledged to stop building and issuing permits for new coal plants, including major coal users such as Poland, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, and Ukraine. Australia, China, and the US were among nations that did not sign the pledge. A separate pledge 20 countries, including the US, committed to ending public financing for “unabated” overseas fossil fuel projects by the end of next year.

OIL AND GAS

An effort to establish an alliance to end the use of oil and gas won only limited support on the sidelines, with Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Greenland, Ireland, Sweden, Wales, and the Canadian province of Quebec signing up. Portugal, California, and New Zealand are “associate” members of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, while Italy is deemed a “friend” of the coalition.

CARS

A push to replace all new fuel car production with electric cars by mid-century had only partial support. The summit failed to make significant inroads into the decarburization of the transport industry, despite COP host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson nominating the phasing out of dirty cars as one of his top priorities for the talks.

METHANE

More than 100 countries, including the US, Japan, and Canada, pledged to cut emissions of methane to 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. The move is considered important because, though there is less methane in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is a far more powerful warming agent. Australia did not sign the pledge. The cover decision of the talks also mentioned methane for the first time, calling on nations to “consider further actions to reduce” methane emissions by 2030.

FOREST

More than 130 nations including forestry giants such as Brazil and Indonesia, as well as Australia, signed a pledge to end deforestation by 2030. The deal was accompanied by commitments of $US19 billion to help protect forests. Following the announcement, Indonesia clarified that it would not surrender economic growth to protecting forests and Brazil said it would only end “illegal logging”.