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COP25 vs COP26: What’s next for global change action?

by wrich

With less than nine weeks until the COP26 Summit takes place in Glasgow, it is expected that all eyes will be on the nations at the Summit to progress with negotiations and set ambitious, achievable targets to tackle climate change. Now two years on from the last event, will this year’s summit achieve what COP25 could not?

What were the highlights from COP25?

COP25 was tasked with finalising the rules of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, particularly focusing on the rules of future international carbon markets and agreeing upon numerous financial matters.

However, as the Summit progressed, the discussions over Article 6 took a lot of negotiating with countries unable to agree. Due to this, leaders could not deliver on the agreements of Article 6, which will now be discussed at the upcoming COP26 Summit. Nations at the Summit acknowledged the essential role of climate finance with new financial pledges of $90 million made by nations to the Adaption Fund, which aims to help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.

Overall, very few decisions were made at COP25 despite many hours spent negotiating and the Summit continuing two days longer than planned due to this. Businesses however, really shone a light on the event as they began to recognise their responsibility and the role they play in contributing to climate change, with many announcing their ambitious plans to decarbonise during COP25. These announcements helped to mitigate the frustrations many felt from the Summit’s outcome.

It is hoped that COP26 will make more headway on Article 6, and deliver clear decisive action to reduce global emissions and make the changes needed to fight climate change.

What can we expect from this year’s COP26 Summit?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic postponing COP26, the Summit, which is taking place this November is much anticipated, but what plans do the UK Government, as hosts, have to ensure its success?

The Government’s ambition is to lead from the front and position the UK as a global exemplar of climate change innovation and action. In recent months there has been consistent announcements from Government offering incentives and schemes to encourage both commercial and domestic users to take steps to reduce their emissions. These commitments have included funding for green jobs, the introduction of green sovereign bonds and research grants to accelerate the emergence of renewable and carbon capture technologies.

There are four main goals to be achieved at COP26, including:

• To secure global net zero by 2050, keeping the 1.5 degree global warming limit within reach
• Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats around the world, to improve their resilience against climate change
• To mobilise finance through developed countries delivering on the promise to raise $100bn in climate finance per year to support developing countries
• To work together to agree on, deliver and rise to the challenges of climate change.

In the run up to COP26, much like we saw with COP25, many large organisations are making their commitment to reduce their emissions, and it is hoped that more will follow. The appetite for net zero from business is certainly growing, with 4,660 organisations so far having joined the Race to Zero campaign, and 828 businesses with approved Science-Based Targets.

Many developed countries have been putting their efforts into their own Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a promise which each made in the Paris Agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The NDC sets out how countries should align their emissions-cutting targets with scientific advice on staying within 2°C limit of global warming. In preparation for the Summit, nations are expected to have already submitted their updated NDC’s to the UN, at this point 110 out of 197 nations have done so.

A step change for nations

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how nations can come together to solve problems with devastating worldwide impact. This has inadvertently created a potential step change in how nations could work together to tackle the challenges of the climate emergency. Without a doubt the pandemic has shown us that health, wealth and environment are linked, and that we must take care of our planet to protect ourselves from further climate impacts.

As global leaders prepare to take the worlds stage, there is growing public awareness of the effects of climate change, and startling warnings that we are running out of time to take action to protect ourselves from disaster. With high expectations for what COP26 will deliver, this Summit will be potentially the most anticipated and contested yet.

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