Following marathon negotiation sessions that went a day overtime into Saturday, a final agreement was made at COP26, forming the new Glasgow Climate Pact. The past includes references to fossil fuels for the first time for a COP decision, though the language was substantially watered down over the past few days. The text also calls for near-term revisions and strengthening of countries’ interim climate goals, and for a ramp in climate finance to developing countries.
COP26 President Alok Sharma noted that some countries would be deeply disappointed that stronger language did not make its way into the final agreement, and noted in his emotional concluding statement that he while believed the conference succeeded in keeping the goal of limiting global temperature increases limited to 1.5 degrees alive, he described this win as “fragile.” Sharma said:
“We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action.”
Highlights of the agreement include:
- Fossil fuels. The agreement included references to the need for reduced fossil fuel use for the first time in the COP framework, though the language was weaker than many had hoped. The pact’s final text calls for parties to accelerate efforts to “phase down” unabated coal use and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, removing the term “phase out” at the last minute due to objections from India and China, and significantly watering down the initial draft text’s call to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels.”
- Climate finance. The 2015 Paris Agreement called for developed nations to ramp support for their developing counterparts in the form of at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020. The text notes with “deep regret” that the 2020 target has been missed, but notes that the conference saw a significant step-up in climate finance pledges, and urges full delivery of the $100 billion goal annually through 2025, and emphasizes the need for transparency on progress. Countries are also urged to “at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation” to developing nations to $40 billion annually.
- Near term climate goals. The past two years have seen a dramatic increase in countries pledging to achieve net zero emissions, with 80% of global emissions now covered under these long-term targets. Numerous research studies have found, however, that current policies and near-term targets are not aligned with the overarching Paris Agreement goals to limit temperature rise. The pact calls for countries to revisit and strengthen their 2030 emissions targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) over the next year.
- Carbon markets. Six years after kicking of in the Paris Agreement’s “Article 6,” a rulebook for carbon markets has been established at COP26, marking a significant step in the development of the massive emerging market for carbon credits by providing a consistent and transparent framework.