4 Key Achievements of COP26
Credit: UN Climate Change - Kiara Worth
UN Climate Change News, 24 November 2021 – In a keynote address today during the Ministerial Dialogue at the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) Energy Week, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, outlined four key achievements made at this month’s UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, which represent “significant progress” in global efforts to tackle climate change.
“I believe that at COP26, Parties built a bridge between good intentions and measurable actions to lower emissions, increase resilience and provide much-needed finance,” she said.
The first notable accomplishment highlighted by the UN Climate Chief relates to adaptation to the impacts of climate change, which is now deemed to be equally important as reducing emissions. Following COP26, a work programme exists to define the global goal on adaptation, which will help address the climate impacts already happening in all regions of the world.
At the same time, there is now enhanced technical support for countries to address loss and damage related to climate change that will strengthen global efforts towards resilience.
Secondly, on the critical issue of finance, governments at COP26 agreed on the need for much greater support to developing countries.
"All Parties agreed that much more support needs to be provided to developing countries. They recognized that the most vulnerable cannot be ignored — that much more finance for adaptation is needed — and that it must be predictable," she said.
Ms. Espinosa acknowledged the fact that developed countries have yet to live up to the Paris Agreement pledge of $100 billion annually in support to developing countries and underlined the urgency of initiating the process for defining the new global goal on finance as soon as possible.
Thirdly, on the urgent issue of bringing down emissions, Ms. Espinosa welcomed the collective agreement by governments to explore ways of increasing actions to close the current emissions gap, which she called a “significant area of focus as we move forward.”
"The good news is that proven technologies for a net-zero energy system already exist. Some renewables are now the cheapest option to produce electricity in many parts of the world, but their deployment needs to be accelerated. For their part, governments must lead the way in planning and promoting the required clean energy infrastructure investment, including in matters of transmission and distribution," she said.
The fourth significant achievement outlined by the UN's top climate change official include the finalization of guidelines for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement; the compromise reached on Article Six relating to carbon markets, which will ensure a level playing field for everyone; and the finalization of negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework, which allows countries to continue building trust.
The UN Climate Chief pointed out that despite the accomplishments in Glasgow, the world is still far off track to stabilizing global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees and urged further and immediate international collaboration to get the world back on track to achieving this goal.
See full speech below.
It’s a pleasure to be here and to speak about our recently completed negotiations in Glasgow and what they mean for all of us moving forward.
Negotiations around a topic as complex as climate change are difficult. Reaching agreements even more so. Such is the nature of consensus building and inclusive multilateralism.
I am encouraged however, that we left Glasgow with clarity on the work we need to undertake to reach the 1.5-degree goal.
In that vein, I would like to highlight four accomplishments coming out of COP26 that represent significant progress in the world’s efforts against climate change.
First is the matter of adaptation which has been central in all our conversations at this COP. And the texts adopted recognize this relevance. It also speaks to the fact that people recognize just how important adaptation is. For so long, the focus has been on mitigation.
Mitigation, of course, is extremely important. However, I think this COP really showed that adaptation will no longer be a “secondary” topic, but one of equal importance to mitigation.
After COP26, we now have a work programme to define the global goal on adaptation. This will allow us to identify the collective needs and solutions for the climate impacts already happening now in all regions of the world.
And the Santiago Network, a network that is about providing technical support for countries to address and manage loss and damage related to climate change, has now been enhanced. This will strengthen global efforts towards resilience.
The second matter is finance. All Parties agreed that much more support needs to be provided to developing countries.
They recognized that the most vulnerable cannot be ignored — that much more finance for adaptation is needed — and that it must be predictable.
And while we also welcome the call to at least double finance for adaptation - the actual needs are still very much beyond what is currently available. Parties must continue to focus on this issue.
Parties did not, however, resolve the Paris Agreement pledge that would see $100 billion mobilized from developed nations to developing. This is disappointing and I told all Parties they must make this a reality by next year. After all, this is not just about the $100 billion. It is critical that we initiate the process for the definition of the new global goal on finance as soon as possible.
On another front we came into COP26 knowing we had a significant emissions gap. To address it, Parties collectively agreed to look for ways to increase actions to closing that gap. There can be no doubting the urgency of this task. This will be a significant area of focus as we move forward.
And lastly COP26 also saw the finalization of guidelines for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. For those of you who follow our process closely, you will know that this is a very significant accomplishment.
After six years of intense negotiations, we have reached a compromise on the pending issue of Article Six. Operationalizing Article Six will allow Parties to scale up their cooperation, mobilize additional finance and private sector engagement and ensure that the rules are the same for everyone.
This may not be a headline issue for the public, but it is a major step forward.
Another significant step forward was the finalization of negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework. This will allow all Parties to continue building trust, which is absolutely crucial as we move forward.
There were several more accomplishments in many different areas — we also saw significant announcements in the non-process part of the COP — including announcements related to finance, forestry, ending coal and work specific to cities and communities.
I believe that at COP26, Parties built a bridge between good intentions and measurable actions to lower emissions, increase resilience and provide much-needed finance.
A bridge leading to the historic transformation we must make to achieve rapid reductions this decade and ultimately towards the 1.5C goal.
The energy sector, of course, will play a crucial role in that transformation.
It is no exaggeration to say that energy is at the heart of the climate change emergency, and it must be at the heart of its solution.
And if we are to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, nations must commit to a deep and lasting transformation of how they create, use, and distribute energy.
Indeed – it is only through a deep-decarbonization pathway that we significantly reduce emissions this decade and ultimately get to net zero emissions by 2050.
There is no separate path, there is no alternate universe, there is no Plan B. This is simply what we must do.
But our work is cut out for us.
It’s not enough to pick the low-hanging fruit of replacing one energy polluting activity with a slightly less climate-damaging alternative. Shifting to less carbon-intensive energy sources remains important of course, but that alone does not get us to our climate goals.
The good news is that proven technologies for a net-zero energy system already exist.
Some renewables are now the cheapest option to produce electricity in many parts of the world. But their deployment must be accelerated.
For their part, governments must lead the way in planning and promoting the required clean energy infrastructure investment, including in matters of transmission and distribution.
But we don’t have a moment to lose.
The climate stakes couldn’t be any higher.
I will leave it to my IRENA colleague (Francesco La Camera, Director General) to perhaps speak in more detail about energy solutions for a green future.
Let me conclude by saying that despite our accomplishments in Glasgow, we are still far off the trajectory of stabilizing global temperature rise at 1.5-degrees.
We must see more climate action this decade to achieve it.
I want to thank you for your valuable contributions in this very challenging two years leading up to COP26. But our work did not end in Glasgow. Time still remains short. The climate emergency still is with us. Our work together therefore begins immediately.