After two weeks of intense negotiations at COP26, 130 countries agreed to measures that will speed up action on climate change. Prior to COP26 the world was on track for 2.7°C of warming, an estimate that following the conference has been reduced to 2.4°C. This is far from the Paris goal of limiting warming to well below 2°C which is needed to avert disastrous weather events.
For the first time, conditions regarding coal and fossil fuels were stipulated. In a move that will clamp down on power plants that do not capture CO2 emissions, countries have been asked to accelerate efforts towards ‘phasing down’ unabated coal power. The wording was haggled over when India and China entered the chat, insisting on the initial draft being changed from ‘phase out’ to ‘phase down’.
More than 40 countries agreed to phase out use of coal power, while 23 became signatories to the COP26 Coal to Clean Power Transition Agreement which is a commitment to halt construction and issuance of permits for new coal plants. Additionally, world leaders committed to curb subsidies that artificially lower the price of coal, oil and natural gas.
COP26 resulted in more milestone achievements:
- Over 100 countries joined the Global Methane Pledge: a US/EU-led promise to cut global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030
- Leaders from more than 100 countries home to approximately 85% of the world's forests committed to stop deforestation by 2030
- Owners and managers of more than USD 130 trillion agreed to back ‘clean’ technology, such as renewable energy, and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries.
The world’s two largest emitters of CO2 – the US and China – surprised COP26’s global audience by signing a joint declaration that seeks a reduction in methane emissions, tackling deforestation and regulating decarbonisation.
India, the world’s third largest greenhouse-gas emitter, unveiled an ambitious plan that will see half its energy sourced from renewables by 2030, putting the nation on track for hitting net-zero by 2070.
In a move backed by more than 40 world leaders, the United Kingdom emerged a leading light in the green technology arena, proposing a plan to accelerate affordable, clean technology. The plan aims to scale development of clean power, zero-emission vehicles, near-zero-emission steel, low-carbon hydrogen and sustainable agriculture by 2030.
COP27 is scheduled to take place in Egypt in late 2022. In that time, countries attending have been requested to improve 2030 national climate targets.