What is COP26? Why Should We Care? What Efforts Have Been Made Thus Far?
What is COP26?
COP26 is the 26th Conference of the Parties which will take place in Glasgow from 31 Oct. to 12 Nov. 2021. At this gathering, global leaders are uniting to discuss how each country plans to make concrete testimonies to alleviate the already irreversible faults of climate change and reshape the future of global warming.
History of COP
The first COP was in 1995 and debuted the Berlin Mandate which would commit leaders to solidify ambitions to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this proposed mandate was rejected at its original launch in 1995 and was continuously shut down year after year by heavily influential countries like the United States, who denied the possibility of solidifying a ceiling on their greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2015, COP21 was held in Paris, where nations legally solidified their goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in what is known as The Paris Agreement. Included in the agreement is the countries vow to follow a five-year cycle in which they would submit LT-LEDS, or long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies by 2020. As a whole, the nations agreed that they would individually and collaboratively announce specific targets for their reduction of emissions by 2025 or 2030. Though the first major timetable from the agreement was anticipated for the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic provoked a setback. Now, the conference has been rescheduled to this year and is thus even more critical than originally anticipated.
What to expect at COP26
As of now, research from the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Synthesis report reveals that the efforts being made by the nations will collectively result in carbon emissions increasing by an approximated 16% from 2010 to 2030. This differs vastly from their forecasted goal of a 45% reduction by 2030 to ensure the globe remained under 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming. These results are directly correlated to the number of countries who are responsible for a great amount of these emissions, yet have made underwhelming efforts to support their initiatives which are thus remaining static or worsening in some cases. Russia, for example, is the fourth largest contributor to carbon emissions globally, but their ongoing numbers as an emitter will still be presumably increasing for decades to come. Similarly, Brazil recently released an updated plan that is inadequate to their 2015 plan, yet they are not likely to meet either plan by their goal date.
This conference may be exactly what global figureheads need to fully commit to elucidations that will actively slow down the rapid decline of our planet. At COP26, people around the world are hoping for solidified regulations to cut carbon emissions drastically, extensive expansion for renewable energy, investment in greater equity for countries categorized as low-income, and implementation of modernized transportation systems that reduce greenhouse gas emanations.
Officials have made goals for COP26 that are likely to be discussed and potentially fabricated into official agreements.
One major goal involves the termination of coal mining and burning processes, which has already been initiated by the United States, who have been working to cut coal consumption by nearly 50% in 10 years. As for the United Kingdom, only less than 2% of total power is currently sourced from coal which is setting other countries on a positive trajectory towards similar outcomes. Overall, wealthy countries are hopefully resolving to phase out coal usage as a whole by 2030.
In regard to vehicle emissions which presently account for approximately 15% of total global carbon pollution, nations will potentially make a forthright initiative to move away from gas-powered vehicles to a zero-emission dominant industry by 2035. For this to be achievable, stronger policies to promote electric cars should be implemented.
A large issue for lower-income countries to make effective commitments comes from their lack of financial means to solve climate change issues. In addition to this, these countries are not responsible for a majority of the concerns, as wealthier and more industrialized countries are accountable for emitting the largest portion of greenhouse gases. To combat the dilemma, in 2009, larger emission countries committed to provide $100 billion annually beginning in 2020 to support smaller countries in their efforts to tackle climate change. As of now the donors are falling short by about $20 million and should make a strong point of instilling growth this commitment at COP26.
As of November 2, 2021, a few outcomes have already been declared at the start of the two-week summit and are as follows:
The Breakthrough Agenda was officially launched Nov. 2, 2021 and proposes the agreed countries to collaboratively develop clean technologies and sustainable solutions to finally meet the goals originally stated in the Paris Agreement by 2030. In addition to being achievable, developments must be easily accessible and affordable for all to be properly successful. The pillars of this initiative revolve around Power, Road Transportation, Steel, and Hydrogen. Creating clean power is the most financially reasonable and reliable option for participating countries to reach their goals precisely by the 2030 timetable. Road transportation aims to continue the progress in making zero-emission vehicles the most widely used transportation method by 2030. To ensure this, manufacturers need to make sustainable and accessible options for all regions before 2030. Global markets should actively use near-zero emission steel as the preferred choice and maintain growing production in every region by 2030. Renewable and low-carbon hydrogen should be affordable and readily available globally by 2030.
This initiative stresses the importance of protection agricultural goods such as soy, palm oil, cocoa, and cattle by halting deforestation and biodiversity loss. By 2030, there will be an improved roadmap of enhancements made to the agricultural supply chain and the livelihood of farmers will be improved overall,
To support the protection and sustainably manage the Congo Basin Forests in Africa, countries state that they plan to better recognize the benefits of the forests and combat the factors that contribute to forest loss as a whole. This commitment will require strong efforts from all sides and an initial pledge of a collective $1.5 billion will be put into maintaining and protecting the Congo Basin between 2021 and 2025.
Many countries have come together and allotted $12 billion to be financed toward protecting, restoring and sustainably managing forest-related climate globally from now through 2025.
For more information and updates on the two-week long conference continuing until Nov. 12, 2021, check out the resources below.