Nov 16, 2021
4 Key Takeways from COP26
After two weeks of negotiations, COP26 in Glasgow concluded on Saturday, November 13 with nearly 200 countries adopting the Glasgow Climate Pact. Although some headway was made, experts fear we fell far short of the targets necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
UN Secretary General António Guterres stated in a video, "We must end fossil fuel subsidies, phase out coal, put a price on carbon, protect vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change and make good on the $100 billion climate finance commitment to support developing countries."
But did we manage to pass these measures?
Here are some of the big takeaways from COP26:
1. Fossil fuel language made the cut, but with a catch
On the fossil fuel side is good news and bad news. For the first time, the issue of fossil fuels was finally brought up and discussed, something that even the Paris Agreement was unable to achieve. Unfortunately, at the 11th hour, the goal of ‘phasing out’ coal was ultimately weakened to ‘phasing down’ coal.
2. No loss and damage fund - a blow for climate justice
Many developing and climate-vulnerable nations left the talks disappointed, as rich nations manoeuvred their way out of a proposed fund that was supposed to help them with the loss and damage from climate change.
The move is seen by many as a blow to climate justice, a term that acknowledges how climate change has differing social, economic, public health, and other adverse effects on underprivileged populations. These climate impacts, such as storms and floods, wildfires, severe heat, poor air quality, and disappearing shorelines, disproportionately affect populations such as low income communities, people of color, indigenous people, and people with disabilities.
Wealthy nations have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases, and therefore had a much bigger role in causing the climate crisis to begin with, whereas these populations historically bear little responsibility in causing the climate crisis but now bear the brunt of its effects. A loss and damange fund would have been a step in the direction of wealthy countries helping those most affected by the problem they created.
3. A faster revision timeline
Nations’ climate targets, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NCDs) have historically been revisited every five years. The Glasgow Climate Pact speeds up this timeline by requesting that world leaders "revisit and strengthen" their 2030 targets by the end of 2022 instead.
4. What about the Paris Agreement targets?
Even with all the progress and pledges made in the Glasgow Climate Pact, it ultimately still fails to meet the Paris Agreement goal of a 1.5C limit in global temperature rise.
Like many experts, we found the outcome of COP26 to be a major disappointment.
Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and climate expert at Columbia University, told the Washington Post, "the failure of the rich countries to attend to honest and scaled global financing of the climate transformation — including mitigation, adaptation, and losses and damages — is the greatest single weakness of the entire global effort."
What can my company do?
Just because our governments haven’t set ambitious enough targets against climate change doesn’t mean your company can’t. Planning for the long term sustainability of your company means taking active measures to lower your impacts on the planet.
At SustainLab, we make it easy for you to set targets and then track all of your impacts with our automation magic and features such as our built-in sustainability standards frameworks, and benchmarks. This way, you can consistently monitor your progress as a factor for everyday business decisions.
Get in touch to learn more about how SustainLab can help you do your part to create a better business for a better planet.
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