Negotiations lead to new commitments on climate action
Following two weeks of negotiations at COP26, the Glasgow Climate Pact (https://bit.ly/3l7OkLZ) was agreed by all countries. The Pact is the first UN document to directly mention fossil fuels in relation to climate change. While it does not specifically mention oil and gas, it calls for a “phasedown of unabated coal power and phase out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.
Earlier drafts had called for a “phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”, but last-minute changes weakened the final text. However, the “phasedown” still aims to provide “targeted support to the poorest and most vulnerable in line with national circumstances” and recognises “the need for support towards a just transition”. It also calls on countries to accelerate the deployment of technologies and policies needed to transition towards low-emission energy systems.
Despite the changes on coal, the language is still more positive than the outcomes from previous COPs. For example, at COP24, four countries refused to “welcome” the 2018 IPCC report, which warned that time was running out to keep to the target of 1.5°C. The compromise was negotiators welcoming the “timely completion” of the report, “expressing gratitude” to the panel and the scientific community, and “inviting” countries to make use of it.
In contrast, the Glasgow Climate Pact welcomes the 2021 IPCC report on the physical science of climate change, which says that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events associated with human-caused climate change is going to get worse as the world reaches 1.5°C. The Pact expresses “alarm and utmost concern that human activities have caused around 1.1°C of global warming to date and that impacts are already being felt in every region”.
The Pact “reaffirms” the Paris Agreement goal of keeping temperatures “well below” 2°C and pursuing efforts to keep it to 1.5°C, but it also “recognises that the impacts of climate change will be much lower at the temperature increase of 1.5°C compared with 2°C, and resolves to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”
It “notes with serious concern” that emissions are due to rise 13.7% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. A crucial outcome of the Pact is recalling the part of the Paris Agreement on submitting new pledges – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – every five years, and instead requesting signatories to strengthen their 2030 targets in NDCs by the end of next year. If the climate pledges of all countries are strengthened significantly next year, then there is still hope that limiting warming to 1.5°C could still be achieved. Analysts have warned that current pledges will see temperatures climb as high as 2.4°C (see p20).
Another outcome is committing to an annual high-level meeting on pre-2030 ambition, starting at COP27.
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