It’s easy to get lost in the swamp of COP26 coverage, so we’ll keep it simple. Here’s a breakdown of what was agreed and why all hope is definitely not lost.
What was the point of it all?
These were the COP26 goals:
- Achieve global net zero by 2050 to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius (the target set in 2015 at COP21)
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilise finance
- Work together to deliver
What’s the Glasgow Climate Pact?
At COP21 in 2015, a document called the Paris Agreement was drawn up (probably ringing a bell because of Trump’s decision for the US to withdraw from it in 2017 and Biden’s decision to rejoin in 2021, phew). It was a pretty big deal because it was the first time almost all nations came together and made a legally binding promise to tackle climate change.
Following the trend of naming an agreement after the city it was created in, COP26 saw the birth of the Glasgow Climate Pact. Yes, it’s another boring looking document but hey, it actually includes some exciting stuff - you can read it here.
The main takeaway is that if those involved walk the walk, we’re on track to keep global warming to under 1.5 degrees celsius. This number was generally accepted to be the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement so it’s brilliant that progress in Glasgow has kept the prospect alive.
What are the main takeaways?
The Glasgow Climate Pact is made up of 97 points, we’ve slimmed it right down to talk about a few points that we feel we can speak on - feel free to skim the jargony passages taken straight from the pact and jump straight to our summaries. Here goes.
Point 7. Emphasises the urgency of scaling up action and support, including finance, capacity building and technology transfer.
For obvious reasons, our trusted Habito delegates (our CEO, Chief Impact Officer and Chief of Comms) were paying close attention to anything that smelt like finance or tech. With ‘mobilising finance’ being one of the goals, it’s unsurprising that finance was a theme that ran deeply through the whole thing and of course, in the age we live in, tech was also discussed.
Point 18. Urges developed country Parties to double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation to developing country Parties from 2019 levels by 2025.
The issue of developed countries not stepping up was one of the most hotly debated parts of COP26. There was an existing agreement for developed countries to deliver on $100billion by 2020 and it’s clear that this hasn’t been achieved. The conversation in Glasgow was about getting on with it, and developed countries are now under pressure to double the 2019 figure by 2025.
Point 22. Recognising that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, including reducing global carbon dioxide emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 relative to the 2010 level and to net zero around mid century, as well as deep reductions in other greenhouse gases.
There’s no denying that we’re not where we need to be. This point reinforces the importance of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius or less and highlights that it’s still within reach. The net zero goal used to be ‘by 2050’ and is now ‘around mid century’, allowing a little more leeway. This is because some influential countries are coming out with more distant targets (like China, 2060 and India, 2070).
Point 36. Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up the deployment of clean power generation and energy efficient measures, including accelerating efforts towards the phase down of coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, recognising the need for support towards a just transition.
Quite the mouthful. This was a really touchy subject. COP26 was supposed to end on Friday 12th November but rolled onto Saturday 13th. By the afternoon India and China were threatening to opt out unless the use of the phrase ‘phase-out’ was replaced with ‘phase down’ regarding coal. Other countries weren’t happy with the change but keeping such big players onboard was key, so ‘phase down’ it is. Either way, this marks the first time that coal has ever been named and shamed in a climate agreement and as the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gas, this is a big step.
Point 75. Resolves to move swiftly with the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.
It’s time to get a move on. Countries were meant to have put pen to paper and documented their mid century plans to slash emissions (officially called their Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs), but many came to Glasgow empty handed. Next year’s COP (you guessed it, COP27) will be in sunny Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and countries have agreed to show up with NDCs.
Point 92. Also urges Parties to ensure meaningful youth participation.
The youth presence in Glasgow was massive, both on the streets in protest and even in the Blue Zone (the place where debate happens), with youth speakers addressing leaders. The voice of the future was so powerful that it made it into the Pact (we love you, Greta).
Point 93. Emphasizes the important role of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ culture and knowledge in effective action on climate change.
Activists representing indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ cultural interests had a massive impact. Through protest outside and debate in the Blue Zone, they rightfully carved themselves a space in the pact.
Point 95. Encourages Parties to increase the full, meaningful and equal participation of women in climate action.
Inclusivity is injected more into this agreement than ever before. The conscious mention of women in the pact gives a nod to the wider understanding of impact, and is a welcome change.
What happened outside of the 97 points?
While all 197 countries sign the document at the end of COP, some pledge to take things even further. Here are some stats that make us happy:
- 46 countries have pledged to phase out coal in the 2030s or 2040s
- 34 countries committed to stopping the sale of non-electric vehicles by at least 2040, including several leading markets that pledged to do it by 2035
- 110 countries have pledged to cut methane emission levels by 30% by 2030, to eliminate over 0.2C of near-term warming
- The US and China signed a rare joint declaration that commits the two biggest polluters in the world to "enhanced climate actions that raise ambition"
- India has set a net zero target of 2070
- Five countries, including Britain and the US, and a group of global charities have promised $1.7bn to support indigenous people's conservation of forests and strengthen their land rights.
- Forty-five countries pledged urgent action on making farming more sustainable.
- More than 100 countries representing 85% of the world's forests have signed a pledge to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
At COP, it isn’t just the agreement that happens. It’s a chance for all sorts of people to get together and encourage each other to do better.
- A deal was agreed on harmonising carbon markets and tradeable offsets
- Financial firms controlling about 40% of global assets - $130trillion (£95trillion) - have signed up to 2050 net-zero goals (Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero - GFANZ)
- A one billion euro programme was launched by the EU, Bill Gates and the European Investment Bank to finance breakthrough climate innovation.
All hope is definitely not lost
It’s a massive mountain to climb, but if everyone gets a move on and sticks to their commitments, we can really do this.