Europe Daily Bulletin No. 12770

28 July 2021
Threat of failure looms over COP26
Brussels, 27/07/2021 (Agence Europe)

As extreme weather has recently hit various parts of the world, reminding the world of the urgency of tackling climate change, meetings between country leaders are taking place in the run-up to the 26th United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow. With 100 days to go before this international meeting - COP26 will take place 1-12 November - many grey areas remain, jeopardising the success of this crucial event.

Increased collective ambition

The first objective of COP26 will be to raise the climate ambition of the signatories to the Paris Agreement (adopted in 2015) - which aims to keep the rise in global average temperature well below 2°C, with a target of 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels - by updating their ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDCs).

While the European Union and other major emitters such as the United States, Japan and China have already announced a strengthening of their climate ambitions (see EUROPE B12704A14, B12703A1), less than half of the signatory countries have updated their commitment to reduce their emissions.

At an informal meeting in London on 25-26 July with representatives from over 51 states, the UK and the UN called on countries to come forward with concrete plans to limit warming to 1.5°C, including targets for their national emissions by 2030 and how they will meet their targets.

Divisions over coal

Although all countries participating in this meeting agreed to limit global warming to 1.5°C, divisions persist when it comes to making concrete commitments.

COP26 President Alok Sharma described the lack of agreement by G20 countries on phasing out coal at the recent meeting of G20 energy and climate ministers as “very disappointing(see EUROPE B12769A22).

And to add: “Unless we get all countries signed up to a coal phase-out, keeping 1.5°C in reach is going to be extremely difficult”.

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, called the discussions “extremely productive”. However, she regretted that many countries have not yet presented national plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions over the next ten years.

Climate finance and adaptation

Two other important issues that will determine the success of COP26 are climate finance and the adaptation of our societies to the inevitable consequences of global warming.

While developed countries have pledged to collectively mobilise $100 billion per year until 2025 to help developing countries address climate change, the amounts currently fall far short of the target.

Speaking at the G20 ministerial meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “The G7 and other developed countries must [...] offer a credible package of solidarity measures to assist developing countries, including meeting the target of mobilising $100 billion, enhanced support for adaptation and resilience representing at least 50% of total climate finance”.

Other items

COP26 will also be an opportunity for participants to try to agree on the outstanding issues of the Paris Agreement, namely the rules for greenhouse gas emissions trading between countries (Article 6 of the agreement), the transparency of the agreement (to check that countries are meeting their commitments) and a common timetable for climate targets.

Finally, it should be noted that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish an updated climate forecast on 9 August. Currently undergoing an approval process from 26 July to 6 August, the report will be followed by two more parts scheduled for early 2022.

In addition, a European Parliament resolution on COP26 is planned for October to present MEPs’ expectations and priorities (see EUROPE B12745A15). (Original version in French by Damien Genicot)