By John Ikani
About 200 countries meeting in Glasgow, Scotland have adopted an outcome document that UN Secretary-General, António Guterres lauded as “reflecting the interests, the contradictions, and the state of political will in the world today”.
The adoption of the outcome document on Saturday, November 13, followed the extension of COP26 climate negotiations an extra day.
The outcome document, known as the Glasgow Climate Pact, calls on 197 countries to report their progress towards more climate ambition next year, at COP27, set to take place in Egypt.
The outcome also firms up the global agreement to accelerate action on climate this decade.
By other terms of the wide-ranging set of decisions, resolutions and statements that make up the outcome of COP26, governments were, among other things, asked to provide tighter deadlines for updating their plans to reduce emissions.
On the thorny question of financing from developed countries in support of climate action in developing countries, the text emphasizes the need to mobilize climate finance “from all sources to reach the level needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including significantly increasing support for developing country Parties, beyond $100 billion per year”.
In his speech, COP26 President, Alok Sharma, said the Glasgow Climate Pact is evidence of the hard work, dedication, and willingness of the parties to build consensus.
“I thank you all, and your teams, for your extraordinary and heroic efforts. I also want to thank my own incredible team for the past two years, and all the work that has gone into making this conference happen,” he said.
He said his presidency was awakened by the voice of the most vulnerable parties to never let the world forget what is at stake.
“Parties whose people are already suffering the worst effects of climate change and whose moral authority has powered this process forward. Together, over these two weeks, Parties have demonstrated what the world had come to doubt, that countries can rise above their differences to unite against a common challenge, that this multilateral process can deliver,” he said.
Some key COP26 achievements
The Conference heard many encouraging announcements. One of the biggest was that leaders from over 120 countries, representing about 90 per cent of the world’s forests, pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, the date by which the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to curb poverty and secure the planet’s future are supposed to have been achieved.
There was also a methane pledge, led by the United States and the European Union, by which more than 100 countries agreed to cut emissions of this greenhouse gas by 2030.
Meanwhile, more than 40 countries – including major coal-users such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile – agreed to shift away from coal, one of the biggest generators CO2 emissions.
The private sector also showed strong engagement with nearly 500 global financial services firms agreeing to align $130 trillion – some 40 per cent of the world’s financial assets – with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Also, in a surprise for many, the United States and China pledged to boost climate cooperation over the next decade. In a joint declaration they said they had agreed to take steps on a range of issues, including methane emissions, transition to clean energy and decarbonization. They also reiterated their commitment to keep the 1.5C goal alive.
Regarding green transport, more than 100 national governments, cities, states and major car companies signed the Glasgow Declaration on Zero-Emission Cars and Vans to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets, and by 2040 worldwide. At least 13 nations also committed to end the sale of fossil fuel powered heavy duty vehicles by 2040.
Many ‘smaller’ but equally inspiring commitments were made over the past two weeks, including one by 11 countries which created the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA). Ireland, France, Denmark, and Costa Rica among others, as well as some subnational governments, launched this first-of-its kind alliance to set an end date for national oil and gas exploration and extraction.