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Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives the opening statement at the COP26 summit.

Credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

What to expect from COP26

1 November 2021

On Sunday 31 October the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) opened in Glasgow.

Today 120+ World Leaders meet to state their ambition for what COP26 should achieve. But what can we expect from these crucial negotiations?

Why is COP26 important?

Six years ago, the historic Paris Agreement was reached, setting out the ambition and commitments for global cooperation on climate change. Nations committed to pursue efforts to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and to provide finance and other support to developing countries to adapt to climate change and to address the losses and damages caused by climate change impacts.

Limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C is a matter of survival for many countries and communities.

Financial support is also crucial to enable climate action in developing countries, since climate change is a threat multiplier – exacerbating existing challenges and inequalities – and reversing development gains.

Both are a matter of climate justice – as it is those who are least responsible and have benefited least from the causes of climate change, who bear the highest costs and suffer the worst impacts. And both are urgent. The science tells us this is the make-or-break decade for climate action.
Getting the agreement at Paris COP21 was momentous. COP26 now has the more difficult task of making the agreement real.

What needs to happen at COP26?

COP26 has to move the Paris Agreement from a vision and a promise into full, fair, and just implementation.

This requires a few component parts:

  • What countries do: All countries must come to COP with high ambition contributions to emissions reductions and climate finance. This means Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) with 2030 targets that limit temperature rise to 1.5°C and a scale up of climate finance particularly for adaptation to meet and exceed the $100bn annual commitment to developing countries, as well as new and additional finance for loss and damage.
  • What the negotiations do: The rules for implementing the Paris Agreement need to be finalised in ways that ensure ambition and integrity are ‘built in’ to the system, and the negotiations must also set up the next steps to go further and faster to close remaining gaps – particularly on 1.5°C and meeting the growing scale of climate finance needed.
  • What sectors do: A range of initiatives and sectoral commitments will seek to catalyse real world change to go further and faster on ending deforestation and fossil fuel expansion, and transform finance, transport, and other sectors.

How are things looking going into COP26?

Not enough has been done in the years since the Paris Agreement to implement it’s core agreements. 

  • Closing the gap to 1.5°C: We already know that the NDCs that countries are coming into COP with do not go far enough. The COP needs to agree that countries will urgently revisit and increase their 2030 targets. The decision text also needs to recognise that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C will not be possible without protecting and restoring nature or without an end to new fossil fuels and a phase-out of the old.
  • Climate Finance: The $100bn a year from 2020 commitment has not been met, and will not be met until 2023. This is a huge blow to trust in the process and in developed countries willingness to deliver on their promises. Countries need to come ready to go further – particularly on adaptation finance, which lags woefully far behind – and set up constructive negotiations on what replaces $100bn in 2025.
  • Loss and Damage: Virtually no progress has been made on addressing loss and damage in the six years since Paris. Vulnerable countries urgently need action as a matter of survival, and no further delay is acceptable. Global civil society – including Bond and CAN-UK - are calling for this to be the COP that delivers.

Solidarity and ambitious outcomes

When the gavel falls on COP26 a package of plans and agreements must have been made that secure all our futures and make the promises of the Paris Agreement real and deliver climate justice - especially for those on the front line of the climate-nature-poverty triple emergency. We call for this to be the COP of solidarity and ambition.
 

For more detail on the Climate Action Network’s prioritises for COP26, read Glasgow: Time for Solidary and Ambition

About the author

Catherine Pettengell
CAN-UK

Cat Pettengell is director of Climate Action Network UK (CAN-UK). For more detail on the Climate Action Network’s prioritises for COP26, read Glasgow: Time for Solidary and Ambition