COP26 is the next annual UN climate change conference. The Conference of the Parties will be held in Glasgow in early November and is expected to host representatives from 200 countries.
The conference will allow representatives from governments and government negotiating bodies to review progress on climate change and consider the best way to move forward. At the end of COP26, we should expect an announcement or set of texts presenting the next steps for governments around the world.
The biggest previous success for the COP meetings is the Paris Climate Accord of 2015, which set an ambitious goal: to limit climate warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius. At Glasgow, representatives will need to put forward a new set of climate initiatives to realistically achieve this.
New research in 2021 revealed that greenhouse gas emissions were 16% higher in 2020 than in 2010. This is far from the 45% reduction needed by 2030 to avoid disastrous climate change. Progress has made been though in the sheer volume of the global economy which now belongs to countries which have net-zero targets – nearly two-thirds, marking the highest on record.
Discussions may focus on how to reduce emissions from China, the United States and 27-country strong European Union, the three largest carbon emitters respectively. China has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2060 but has not yet submitted an NDC (nationally determined contribution) detailing the steps the country’s leaders will take. However, a climate change experts say this may be too late and are pushing Beijing to accelerate their five-year plans, alongside declaring an NDC.
As a result, key leaders may attempt to enforce more legally binding agreements.
President for COP26 and Former Business Secretary Alok Sharma would like the Glasgow conference to confine coal to history. Coal is the most polluting form of power and contributes 25% of energy-related CO2 emissions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has previously stated that China’s coal consumption would peak in 2025.
One of the most obvious ways countries have become greener is switching to electric vehicles. From EV-powered Uber fleets, lithium-ore battery plants in Sunderland and discussion of additional government taxes on petrol and diesel, the UK is one of the world-leaders in this respect.
Look Out For: Climate Finance
Decarbonising the world’s economy is a costly venture. Industry analysts believe the global cost will exceed $4trn per year by 2030.
However, huge tensions exist over global allocation of responsibility. Developing countries tend to pollute less per head of the population, and historically, have contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions, so governments of these nations argue they should not have to contribute as much as more developed countries like the UK, USA and China. Furthermore, these governments have pointed out that climate change finance has fallen short of the $100bn annual pledge made by the most economically developed countries to help poorer nations in their plight to lower carbon emissions. In 2018, poorer nations reached only $78.9bn.
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