An Overview of COP26

by Carolyn Pearce

Housemistress of Southfield & Geography Teacher, Senior School

COP26 was one of the most important global conferences of a generation: our students’ generation. Changes have to be made to ensure a sustainable future in terms of human life as we know it and of course global ecosystems. I’ve written up an overview of the COP26 conference to help everyone within our community understand what it was all about.

What was COP26?

It was a meeting of global leaders, civil society, international organisations, businesses and youth organisations. The meeting was the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of The Parties (COP).

What were the stated aims and objectives? 

  1. To secure global net zero by mid-century and keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. The first and most important goal because a rise of global temperatures beyond that will see mass extinctions, environmental migration the likes that we have not seen before and ecosystems destroyed. But the world is on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
  2. To adapt to protect communities and natural habitats. At the moment extreme weather events are more common, just think about the disastrous flooding in Thailand. This leads to numerous impacts such as loss of habitats, livelihoods and of course life itself.
  3. To mobilise finance; The third goal was to ensure funding for all those lower income countries that need help to manage the impacts of climate change and allow them to  become climate-resilient in the future.
  4. To work together to deliver. Mutual assistance is the only way forward to see the gains required to limit climate warming

What was achieved?

Nearly 200 countries signed the Glasgow Climate Pact.

“We can say with credibility that we have kept 1.5C within reach but its pulse is weak,” said Cop26 president Alok Sharma as the conference closed. “It will only survive if we keep our promises, if we translate commitments into rapid action and if we deliver on the expectations set out in this Glasgow Climate Pact to increase ambition to 2030 and beyond.”

Alok Sharma, COP26 Presdent

Here are some key points in the Glasgow Climate Pact:

Coal

 

Fossil fuels were mentioned in the text for the first time but the impact of this was limited by amendments made by the US and India so the wording now allows for a ‘phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies’. However, more than 40 countries pledged to quit coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel and the world’s largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, in the 2030s.

Ending Deforestation

More than 140 countries vowed to end deforestation. The deal includes the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and China, and other countries that together comprise over 90% of the world’s forest cover.

Methane

More than 100 countries have agreed to aim to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

Phasing out Gasoline Cars

Six major car manufacturers and 30 governments have pledged to phase out gasoline cars and vans by 2040. 

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