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COP26 key commitments – too ambitious?

November 19, 2021
COP26 key commitments – too ambitious?

World leaders, negotiators, government representatives, businesses and civil society groups gathered at COP26 with a consensus to urgently accelerate climate action. COP decisions went further than ever before in recognising and addressing loss and damage from the existing impacts of climate change.


Substantial decisions coming as a surprise


India – the world’s third-largest contributor to CO2 emissions – pledges to reach net zero by 2070, promising to secure 50 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030. In addition, Nigeria also pledged net zero, aiming to reach it by 2060.


A historic methane agreement


COP26 resulted in a landmark agreement to tackle methane. More than 100 countries which represent the 70 percent of the global economy, signed the non-binding Global Methane Pledge, agreeing to reduce methane levels 30 percent by 2030. The European Union and the US jointly launched the pledge.


The China-US Joint Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action


One of the most significant and surprising developments at the COP26 was the unexpected U.S.-China Joint Declaration to cooperate on a series of actions and initiatives focused on combatting and addressing climate change over the next decade. The U.S.-China statement brings together two of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters in a rare show of cooperation. China accounts for 28 percent of global CO2 emissions, the US for 15 percent.


Among the pledges in the statement, the U.S. and China said that they intend to cooperate on regulatory frameworks and environmental standards related to reducing GHG emissions this decade, maximizing the societal benefits of the clean energy transition, cooperate on policies to encourage decarbonization and electrification of end-use sectors, circular economy initiatives, and carbon removal technologies.


“Phase down” of coal


For the first time in the conference’s history, fossil fuels have been openly recognized as the leading cause of climate change. India and China changed the language from a “phase out” to a “phase down” of coal. China committed to “phase down” coal consumption in 2026. Meanwhile, the US promised to end carbon-polluting electricity by 2035. There is a huge shift in coal, with many more countries committing to phase out coal power and ending international coal financing.


Are these commitments above too ambitious? Will governments succeed in securing the limitation of global warming? Are there actions that haven’t been fully addressed at COP26?


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