Climate-induced natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, storms and wildfires are becoming more common around the globe. The health of millions of people was affected due to air pollution and increasing temperature, also changing weather has wreaked havoc on people’s livelihood. Looking at the negative impacts the changing climate has created on humans, combating it is contributing towards cleaner air, better jobs and restoration of the ecosystem. To avoid the crisis, countries came forward to implement the change together.
What is COP?
The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the convention. It is composed of members from all the UNFCCC’s parties. When the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also termed as Earth Summit, was assembled in Rio de Janeiro to discuss environmental protection and socio-economic development, countries signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC’s principal goal is to make sure that the greenhouse gases produced in the atmosphere are stable enough to eliminate harmful influences on the earth’s climate. The convention was approved by 197 countries and are called “parties to the convention”. The COP evaluates the effects of steps undertaken by the Parties to limit climate change in relation to the UNFCCC’s ultimate purpose.
THE PARIS AGREEMENT, a legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was approved by 197 parties in Paris. At the meeting, all the representatives of the parties agreed to find a way to keep global warming far below 2 degrees Celsius. The objective to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius was chosen because increasing global temperature significantly impacts the death of humans and destruction of livelihoods.
The parties, under the Paris Agreement, had also agreed to provide their national strategies by predicting the number of greenhouse gases they would reduce. Every country, that are Parties to the convention, must identify as well as convey its post-2020 climate measures, commonly termed as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which it aims to accomplish. NDCs are national climate plans that emphasize climate activities such as climate-related goals, regulations and other policies undertaken by government authorities as a contribution to global climate action.
The Paris Agreement established a framework to provide support to the developing nations financially, technically and through capacity building. Because massive investments are necessary to substantially cut emissions, climate finance is considered necessary for mitigation. It is also critical for adaptation, as large financial funds are required to adjust to the negative impacts of changing climate as well as mitigate its consequences. The agreement provides a technology framework to create broad guidance for the efficient operation of technology mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as improve climate resilience. Also, most of the issues posed by climate change are beyond the capacity of many underdeveloped countries so, the Paris Agreement reaffirms the importance of developed countries leading the way and assisting the vulnerable and relatively poor countries.
How Are We Tracking The Progress
Countries together organized an enhanced transparency framework (ETF). Effective in 2024, countries will be required to reflect honestly on their activities and progress in climate change mitigation, adaptation and assistance offered or acquired under the ETF. The data inferred from the ETF will be sent to the Global Stocktake which further analyses our growth in achieving long-term climate goals. This will help countries to find and achieve more ambitious goals in future.
What Have We Achieved So Far?
However massive growth in combating climate change is required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the years since it has come into effect has spawned strategies to existing problems such as low-carbon solutions and new markets.
The goal to accomplish carbon neutrality is being set by governments, regions, cities and businesses. Zero-carbon solutions are becoming more competitive across a variety of economic sectors that account for 25% of total emissions. This has highly favored the transportation and electricity sectors and also opened up dozens of new business opportunities for the newcomers.
The parties at Paris agreement COP21 committed to returning every five years with an updated strategy that reflects their greatest aspiration at the moment. As a result, nations reviewed their strategies for reducing emissions at COP26. Furthermore, the pledges made by the parties in the agreement have not been accomplished. In reality, the target to achieve the 1.5 degrees limit for global warming is nowhere to be met. Since COP21, which delivered the Paris Agreement, COP26 has been regarded as the most important Conference of the Parties (COP).
IPCC Report Has Given A “Code Red For Humanity”
Prior to COP26, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its climate assessment report in August 2021. It stated that unless there are massive reductions in greenhouse gases, curbing the increasing temperature to 1.5 degrees celsius will be impossible to accomplish. It also stated that the consequences of changing climate will continue to grow in all countries. Rising temperature, changing seasonal patterns with a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global warming will be seen.
Extreme heat would approach crucial tolerance for both agriculture and health at 2 degrees Celsius global warming. The report also mentioned that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to climate change, however other greenhouse emissions also have an impact on the climate.
Countries must certainly increase their climate abatement ambition in the light of horrific environmental challenges we’ve witnessed from sea level rise to droughts to wildfires.
Successes At COP26
Green Finance For The Net Zero Economy
At COP26, the formation of a new Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero announced the commitment of $130 trillion in private funds to expedite the transformation to a net-zero economy.
In addition, COP26 initiated a separate International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to set a worldwide foundation for climate and other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) declaration standards.
Disclosure And Transparency For The Private Sector
It isn’t just countries’ climate commitments that are being questioned. Clients and large investors are increasingly investigating the private sector to ensure that its net-zero promises are strong and credible.
António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, has [stated that the UN will form](https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/climate-change/reflecting-on-cop26-what-were-the-key-outcomes#:~:text=At COP26%2C a remarkable achievement,to a net-zero economy.) a “group of experts” to provide rigid guidelines for examining and evaluating non-state actors’ net-zero pledges. This will establish international net-zero criteria for all firms(which currently does not exist under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)), uncover greenwashing, and promote those who have implemented strong and credible net-zero plans
Increasing The Pace Of Implementing The Paris Agreement
The decision “to examine and reinforce the 2030 goals in their nationally determined contributions by the end of 2022,” was one of the major achievements of COP26. This will put the governments under pressure to maintain their desire to meet the Paris Agreement’s temperature objective at a faster rate.
Paris Agreement ‘Rulebook’
By ensuring operational visibility and transparency, addressing loopholes, and reducing the danger of “double counting,” the newly agreed regulation will open commercial and non-market methods to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Additionally, a significant development was made on the ‘rulebook’ which deals with carbon markets and accounting.
Shortcomings At COP26
Failure To Meet 1.5 Degrees Celsius Target
New national promises to net-zero emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, could be sufficient to keep global warming to 1.8°C. However, [Climate Action Tracker discovered](https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/climate-change/reflecting-on-cop26-what-were-the-key-outcomes#:~:text=At COP26%2C a remarkable achievement,to a net-zero economy.) that, due to a “huge legitimacy, implementation, and commitment gap,” we’re still on course for 2.4°C warming by 2030, as most of the promises include minimal details on near-term issues.
Not Securing $100 Billion Climate Finance
Furthermore, COP26 failed to secure the $100 billion annually climate money pledged at COP15 in Copenhagen by 2020, rather than deferring it until 2023. This creates a fear among the most vulnerable countries who are in need of immediate resources and also raises the issue of whether similar promises made at COP26 will be fulfilled on time.
COP 26 is not the final destination. Nations will have to support their COP pledges through actual strategies and objectives. Commitments agreed at the COP, notably strengthened NDCs must be executed in every country. Governments will have to put a lot of effort to keep their promises and meet the Paris agreement’s objectives.
COP26 has reaffirmed the importance of concerted global initiatives to tackle the climate catastrophe in a moment characterized by unpredictability, distrust, and growing climate effects.
Although we aren’t quite there yet, the efforts and advancements made over the past few years and at the summit provided encouraging signs and a solid platform to proceed. In the coming year, many major emitters will have to increase their 2030 emission standards to line up with 1.5 degrees celsius, rigorous strategies will be required to hold accountable for the many agreements signed in Glasgow also, more focus will be paid to the climate-vulnerable countries and help them in dealing with climate impacts and transitioning to net-zero economies.
The necessary efforts are outlined in the Glasgow Climate Pact; but, we will not have a realistic chance of achieving the 1.5 degree Celsius objective and ensuring a safe future for all of us unless this is completed.