Key Takeaways from COP26: Glasgow Climate Pact

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Introduction

The COP26 summit is now concluded after two-weeks of negotiations among world leaders to curb climate change. The result of these talks is the introduction of the Glasgow Climate Pact, officially agreed to by nearly 200 national signatories.

Some are calling this agreement a success, others a failure, and many say it’s somewhere in between. Below we outline the key takeaways from the Glasgow Climate Pact so you can decide for yourself.

Agreement to revisit emission reduction plans in 2022

One critical outcome of the Glasgow Climate Pact is an agreement to “revisit and strengthen” 2030 climate plans by the end of next year; an accelerated timeline in comparison to the previous agreement to submit new national climate plans by 2025. 

The accelerated timeline reflects urgent efforts to keep the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target achievable. However, as previously outlined in our article Is The Paris Agreement Enough, current policies in place around the world are projected to result in about 2.7°C warming above pre-industrial levels. Even under an optimistic scenario, the Climate Action Tracker’s median warming estimate is projected at 1.8°C above pre-industrial levels. 

First ever inclusion of a commitment to “phase down” the use of coal

Another key element of the agreement is the first ever inclusion of a commitment to “phase down” the use of coal. Countries are now expected to accelerate “phasing down” unabated coal power (coal power that is not tied to a still-emergent technology for capturing CO2 emissions) and phasing out “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

The language in this section was weakened at the last minute, when India called for “phasing down” to replace a firmer “phasing out” in the final text of the COP26 conference declaration. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian defended India’s position, stating “in many developing countries, not everyone has access to electricity and energy supply is not adequate. Before asking all countries to stop using coal, consideration should be given to the energy shortfall in these countries to ensure their energy security.”

Despite the change in language, it is the first time a mention of fossil fuels, the major driver of the climate crisis, has been included in a UN climate document of this kind.

Need for climate finance in developing countries

The Glasgow Climate Pact calls for developed countries to “at least double” their collective climate finance payments from 2019 levels by 2025. However, this agreement comes amid a major failure from the developed world to meet a prior pledge — that developed nations would deliver $100 billion per year on climate for developing countries by 2020.

The deal additionally calls on developed countries to provide funds for technical assistance to help nations minimize the loss and damage they’ve suffered from climate change. However, it failed to deliver on a major call for developing countries — the establishment of a fund that would essentially give reparations for the climate loss and damage they suffered.

Additional pledges to combat climate change

  • The number of countries pledged to reach net-zero emissions passed 140. This target includes 90% of current global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • More than 100 countries, including Brazil, pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030.
  • More than 40 countries pledged to move away from coal. 
  • India promised to draw half of its energy requirement from renewable sources by 2030.
  • The governments of 24 developed countries and a group of major car manufacturers including GM, Ford, Volvo, BYD Auto, Jaguar Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz committed to “work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets.”

Sources

Glasgow Climate Pact: UNCC

Glasgow Climate Pact: Wikipedia

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