Saturday, November 13, marked the end of two weeks of intense negotiations that finally led to the completion of the Paris rulebook making it the first climate conference, COP, where parties agreed to phase down coal power.
Gathered at Saturday’s plenary were nearly 200 countries who agreed on the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep 1.5C ambition alive and finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement for the first time; to cap two years of diplomacy and ambition raising.
In his speech, COP26 president, Alok Sharma, said the Glasgow Climate Pact is evidence of the hard work, dedication, and willingness of the parties to build consensus.
“I thank you all, and your teams, for your extraordinary and heroic efforts. I also want to thank my own incredible team for the past two years, and all the work that has gone into making this conference happen,” he said.
He said his presidency was awakened by the voice of the most vulnerable parties to never let the world forget what is at stake.
“Parties whose people are already suffering the worst effects of climate change and whose moral authority has powered this process forward. Together, over these two weeks, Parties have demonstrated what the world had come to doubt, that countries can rise above their differences to unite against a common challenge, that this multilateral process can deliver,” he said.
The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5C remains in sight, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts. The agreement will speed up the pace of climate action.
At the plenary, all countries, including Nigeria, agreed to revisit and strengthen their current emissions targets to 2030, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This will be combined with a yearly political roundtable to consider a global progress report and a Leaders summit in 2023.
The Paris Rulebook, the guidelines for how the Paris Agreement is delivered, was also completed Saturday after six years of discussions. This will allow for the full delivery of the landmark accord, after agreement on a transparency process which will hold countries to account as they deliver on their targets. This includes Article 6, which establishes a robust framework for countries to exchange carbon credits through the UNFCCC.
And for the first time, heeding calls from civil society and countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, the COP agreed on combined action on phasing down fossil fuels.
COP decisions went further than ever before in recognising and addressing loss and damage from the existing impacts of climate change.
There were also commitments to significantly increase financial support through the Adaptation Fund as developed countries were urged to double their support to developing countries by 2025.
The final COP26 text follows two years of intense diplomacy and campaigns undertaken by the UK Presidency to raise ambition and secure action from almost 200 countries. Work focused on driving short-term reduction of emissions to limit temperature rises to 1.5C, mobilising both public and private finance, and supporting communities to adapt to climate impacts.
When the UK took on the COP26 mantle, in partnership with Italy, nearly two years ago, only 30 per cent of the world was covered by net-zero targets. This figure is now at around 90 per cent. Over the same period, 154 Parties have submitted new national targets, representing 80 per cent of global emissions.
The UK Presidency has also been focused on driving action to deliver reductions in emissions. We have seen a huge shift in coal, with many more countries committing to phase out unabated coal power and ending international coal financing.
Alongside this, we have seen a marked commitment to protect precious natural habitats, with 90 per cent of the world’s forests covered by a pledge from 130 countries to end deforestation by 2030.
While on the world’s roads, the transition to zero-emissions vehicles is gathering pace, with some of the largest car manufacturers working together to make all new car sales zero emission by 2040 and by 2035 in leading markets. Countries and cities are following suit with ambitious petrol and diesel car phaseout dates.
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Reflecting on the task ahead, COP26 President Alok 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. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26.
“From here, we must now move forward together and deliver on the expectations set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact, and close the vast gap which remains. Because as Prime Minister Mia Mottley told us at the start of this conference, for Barbados and other small island states, ‘two degrees is a death sentence’.
“It is up to all of us to sustain our lodestar of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach and to continue our efforts to get finance flowing and boost adaptation. After the collective dedication which has delivered the Glasgow Climate Pact, our work here cannot be wasted.”
Speaking on some of the accomplishments at COP26, Patricia Espinosa, the UNFCC Executive Secretary, said it is a good development that adaptation has been central in all negotiations. She said there is now a need to have a programme to allow the UNFCC to identify collective needs and solutions for climate impacts happening across the world.
“On Finance, all parties have agreed that more support needs to be provided to developing countries. Parties also recognised that more finance is needed for adaptation. We have collectively agreed to look for ways to mobilise action. COP26 has seen the finalization of guidelines for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement since six years ago.
“The road to climate action doesn’t end in Glasgow. It is imperative to advance more action to reduce emissions and keep global temperature at 1.5C,” she said.
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