COP stands for Conference of the Parties and it was the 26th annual summit, hence COP26. This summit is for the United Nations to try to get a grip on the global climate crisis. Leaders from around the world met in Glasgow for twelve days of talks alongside thousands of climate experts, business leaders, government officials, negotiators and citizensSo what are the 4 key takeaways from COP26?
2. More people attended than ever before.
Over 100,000 people marched in protest that governments weren’t doing enough and acting too slowly. What was great to see is that a good majority of these people were young leaders demanding actionable solutions to climate change.
40,000 civilians were allowed to attend COP26, in what the UK government is saying is the most inclusive COP summit in history, compared to 22,000 that were allowed in Madrid. However most people who wanted to engage in the negotiations weren't even allowed to observe the negotiations, so it’s not necessarily more inclusive but still a step in the right direction.
Alongside the Global leaders, there were 12,000 representatives from businesses, governments etc and they were split into 9 separate constituencies. In previous COP summits lots of these representatives have been allowed to observe and be a part of those negotiations, however on this occasion only one from each constituency was allowed to take part and observe.
2. Fossil fuels made the draft
For the first time in any COP climate summit, the Glasgow Climate Pact is the first United Nations climate agreement to mention the global need to move away from fossil fuels, and the fossil fuel constituency was actually the largest represented group.
To get a final agreement from all the countries involved, the ones most dependent on fossil fuels lobbied to drastically water down the wording of the agreement regarding those finite fossil fuels, from “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels”, to “unabated coal” and “inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”.
With what looked like a final draft agreement, China and India then pushed again for further changes to the wording, with them only agreeing to “phase down” rather than “phase out” which is what is drastically needed if we have any hope of meeting the 1.5 degree target.
3. The negotiations did not include a fund for loss and damage
With the most wealthy nations such as the US & China being the largest polluters and causing the most harm to poorer nations, they were unable to agree on developing a fund that would help deal with the loss and damage of these harmful greenhouse emissions they are polluting. In other words they will not hold themselves accountable for the damage they are causing to the rest of the planet. This is not nearly good enough or what is expected of them after years of taking advantage of these poorer countries. We’ve seen time and time again harmful chemicals leaking into the waters from illegal dumping grounds (filled with rubbish from these wealthy nations) causing disease and illness of the local communities and wildlife.
4. The 1.5 degree target is still the target
With the US re-joining the 2015 Paris climate agreement, they have again committed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Thankfully this limit was again agreed in the Glasgow Climate Pact. It is clear this target is desperately needed to stop catastrophic climate disasters from wildfires to flooding.
Leading climate scientists agree that this 1.5 degree limit is needed, however they have reported that we are not doing enough and are actually on target for a 2.5 degree rise. If we are to meet that 1.5 degree target we need to act now and make swift changes following what was agreed in COP26.