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COP26: What was the outcome?

Posted in Industry News on Nov 16, 2021.

COP26 came to an end on Saturday 13th November, after days of negotiating and discussions by almost every country on earth in attendance.

But what exactly was the outcome?

Businesses in UK required to publish net-zero transition plan

Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed on Finance Day (3rd November) that large UK firms in high emitting sectors will be mandated to publish net-zero transition plans by 2023, with a new verification standard under development, designed to ensure these plans are credible and not greenwash.

Nations to "phase-down" coal

More than 190 nations have agreed to take steps required to reducing their use of coal as a power source. This comes under the “Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement”, which captures coal phase-outs from governments and the private sector in developing countries, vulnerable nations and some of the world’s largest polluters. However, a breaking last-minute change by India and China, called for the pledge to be amended and reworded as “phase down” and not “phase out” of coal power.

Pledges to end deforestation by 2030

Roughly 100 governments have signed a pledge to end deforestation by 2030. Making this a huge deal, as between the agreed nations, they make up 85% of forests globally. UK has already acted by reforesting large parts of the country.

Under this commitment, nations commit to halt deforestation and land degradation by 2030 and enter into a period of restoration by this date, if possible.

Reform agriculture polices

45 governments pledge urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming. While 150 organisations agreed to accelerate the deployment of green innovations for the sector.

To help support these changes, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is launching a new global initiative to help 100 million farmers access the education, funding and innovations they need to decarbonize and restore nature.

Breakthrough Agenda

More than 40 countries have launched the Breakthrough Agenda, a commitment to work together internationally during this decade to accelerate the development and deployment of the clean technologies and sustainable solutions needed.

This is essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, including holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C.

Race to Zero

The Race to Zero initiative was launched last year to kick start corporate action towards reaching net-zero emissions.

At COP26, it was revealed that almost two-thirds of FTSE100 companies have signed up to the UN’s Rate to Zero campaign. FTSE100 stands for Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 Index, or informally known as “Footsie” which tracks the 100 largest public companies. Having these companies sign up to the campaign is a major milestone in the right direction.

In addition, a number of UK small businesses have committed to the initiative, through the Together for Our Planet Campaign.

Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ) reaches £95 trillion

GFANZ was launched in April 2021, in a drive to unite the global financial sector in transitioning to net-zero portfolios by 2050. Now represents more than £95 trillion in assets under management. The alliance now acts for 40% of the world’s total finance assets.

Cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030

Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas and sources include natural gas production.

More than 100 countries, including the US, Japan and Canada, have pledged to significantly cut emissions of methane. It is on course to reduce emissions by more than 50 million tonnes, according to the Energy Transition Commission. On the contrary, this is short of the 130 million tonnes that Commission is calling to be reduced in order to align with a 1.5C pathway envisioned by the Paris Agreement.

Pledges push global temperature into 2C threshold

From the numerous pledges made at COP26, it all looks set to combine in an unprecedent manner of limiting the global temperature to rise just below 2C. If these pledges are delivered within the agreed timeframes, the world will be on course, for the first time, to reach the lower threshold of the Paris Agreement.

When first going into the COP26, pledges from nations look set to limit the global temperature rising to between 2.1C and 2.7C, depending on what research you looked at. However, new research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) claims that if new national pledges and targets announced at COP26 are met on time, the world would be on track for 1.8C to 1.9C global temperature rise by the end of the century.

India’s Net-zero target set for 2070

Despite being classed as a developing country, India is the third highest emitter and is home to more than 1.3 billion people. The nation’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement and included key pledges to decarbonize over the next 50 years. With a commitment to hosting 500GW of renewable generation by 2030. This should account for 50% of the country’s energy supply.

However, actions speak louder than words, and the actions to deliver these pledges are what counts. Overall, COP26 took a downturn towards the end of the conference with a watered-down version of the coal phase-out pledge. But nonetheless, it’s a step in the right direction and the outcome document, known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, calls on 197 countries to report their progress towards more climate ambition next year, at COP27, set to take place in Egypt.