With the COP26 Summit drawing to a close In Glasgow, world leaders have agreed a new ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’. All nations have agreed to set new climate targets by the end of next year, the phasing down of unabated fossil fuel use and the ending of inefficient subsidies.

The document has been greeted with both praise and consternation with the majority agreeing that any progress is to be welcomed.  The most praise has fallen on progress with the agreement on fossil fuels, but many have lamented the lack of progress around climate finance and adaptation.

In a last minute move China and India sought a weakening of the language used in the commitment to end the use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels and the USA and the European Union both sought to delete mechanisms by which would have seen greater support developing nations by richer states.

Whilst the COP26 President, Alok Sharma, said: “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But its pulse is weak, and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26.

“From here, we must now move forward together and deliver on the expectations set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact and close the vast gap which remains. Because as Prime Minister Mia Mottley told us at the start of this conference, for Barbados and other small island states, ‘two degrees is a death sentence’.

“It is up to all of us to sustain our lodestar of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach and to continue our efforts to get finance flowing and boost adaptation. After the collective dedication which has delivered the Glasgow Climate Pact, our work here cannot be wasted.”

The Glasgow Climate Pact mandates nations to formulate and publish updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement for 2030, by the time COP27 begins in 2022.

Nations should endeavour to align their climate targets and plans with 1.5C. The agreement states that the UN will “take into account different national circumstances”. Nations including China, South Africa and Indonesia have indicated that they will need more time.

The primary agreements reached at COP 26 include:

  • Improved plans to reach 1.5C
  • end and reverse deforestation by 2030
  • Phasing down of fossil fuel use
  • Defining a path to compensate those suffering the effects from historical emissions of richer nations
  • Standardised reporting providing greater transparency
  • Carbon trading rules to reward nations delivering greater shares of carbon reductions

UN Secretary General António Guterres commented: “Let me begin by thanking our hosts —the UK government and the people of Glasgow — for their tremendous hospitality. I salute Alok Sharma and his team. This was an extremely challenging conference. They have shown remarkable expertise in reaching consensus among parties.

“The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions, and the state of political will in the world today. They take important steps, but unfortunately the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions. As I said at the opening, we must accelerate action to keep the 1.5 degree goal alive.

“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 will itself be zero. I reaffirm my conviction that we must end fossil fuels subsidies.”

“Success or failure is not an act of nature. It’s in our hands. The path of progress is not always a straight line. Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are ditches. As the great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant. We have many more seeds to plant along the path. We won’t reach our destination in one day or one conference. But I know we can get there. We are in the fight of our lives. Never give up. Never retreat. Keep pushing forward. I will be with you all the way. COP 27 starts now.”

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