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COP26 scorecard: The Good, the Bad and the Hopeful

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Note: this blog post is a compilation of extrracts from the sources listed below.

The Good

Emissions: 81 countries representing nearly three fourths of global emissions have pledged to reach net zero around the middle of the century. (1)

Deforestation: countries representing over 90% of the world’s forests committing to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.

Methane: over 100 countries representing 50% of global methane emissions commit to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

The Bad

Countries’ pledges are still far from limiting warming well below 2°C or striving for 1.5°C, and their implementation even more so. Technically, the 1.5℃ limit is still within reach because, under the Glasgow pact, countries are asked to update their 2030 targets in a year’s time. However, as Sharma said, “the pulse of 1.5 is weak”. (2)

COP26 fell short on international solidarity by missing to make up for the failure of developed countries to meet the longstanding and symbolic $100 bn goal.

Poor countries were left frustrated at the pact, which they said did not address their concerns about “loss and damage”: the destruction caused by extreme weather, which is hitting vulnerable countries hard and frequently. But rich nations have been reluctant to agree to any mechanism for providing funding for loss and damage.

Tuvalu minister knee deep in water.

António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, warned that further urgent work was needed: “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode – or our chance of reaching net zero [emissions] will itself be zero.”

Mary Robinson, former UN commissioner for human rights and chair of The Elders group of leaders and former statespeople, said: “Cop26 has made some progress, but nowhere near enough to avoid climate disaster." (4)

Vanessa Nakate, a climate activist from Uganda, said: “Even if leaders stuck to the promises they have made here in Glasgow, it would not prevent the destruction of communities like mine. Right now, at 1.2C of global warming, drought and flooding are killing people in Uganda. Only immediate, drastic emissions cuts will give us hope of safety, and world leaders have failed to rise to the moment.” (3)

89% of coal and 59% of gas reserves need to stay in the ground if there’s to be even a 50% chance of global temperature rise staying under the crucial limit of 1.5℃ this century. But there are too many loopholes for the fossil fuel industry. One of the most glaring failures of COP26 is the failure to connect emission cuts with production cuts. Countries such as Norway have impressive domestic reduction targets (55% by 2030) yet continue to champion fossil fuel production through oil and gas exploration. (5)

The Hopeful

Next time we'll be more ambitious - as long as we're not held to it.

Countries decided to convene an annual high-level ministerial roundtable on pre-2030 ambition from COP27 onwards.

All countries are due to report at least every two years from 2024 on their emission inventories and progress made in implementing their NDCs.

Funds to support technical assistance will be provided to the Santiago Network launched in COP25, dedicated to technical assistance.

From 2024, countries will need to submit biennial reports featuring GHG emissions inventories, information on progress towards their NDCs and implementation of policies that underpin them.

The NGO Population Matters came to COP26 with a 7-meter tall inflatable "Big Baby” to attract attention to their message. PM calls on the governments and negotiators at COP26 to include ethical and empowering population solutions in climate mitigation strategies. Empowering women and girls through education and access to modern, voluntary family planning improves their lives while reducing population growth, which in turn helps mitigate climate change, PM insists. (6)

The fact that a reduction in coal use was directly addressed in the final text is hopeful. But whether it comes in the small window we have left to stop catastrophic climate change remains to be seen. (3)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) attended the COP26 climate conference to highlight how nuclear technology and applications contribute to tackling climate change. Rafael Mariano Grossi said, “More and more countries, more and more groups, are looking at nuclear as part of the solution.” (7)

Calling for clean nuclear energy to replace fossil fuels

-Julie Wornan



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