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Glasgow Climate Pact keeps 1.5 degrees target alive and finalizes Paris Agreement

COP26 has concluded in Glasgow, Scotland with nearly 200 countries agreeing on the "Glasgow Climate Pact" to keep the 1.5 degree C target alive and finalize the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement. Climate negotiators ended two weeks of intense talks on November 13, 2021, with a consensus on urgently accelerating climate action.

“We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action,” commented COP26 President Alok Sharma reflecting on the task ahead (photo courtesy COP26 Media Services).

The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5 degrees C remains in sight, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.

All countries agreed to revisit and strengthen their current emissions targets to 2030, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), in 2022. This will be combined with a yearly political roundtable to consider a global progress report and a Leaders summit in 2023.

The Paris Rulebook, the guidelines for how the Paris Agreement is delivered, was also completed after six years of discussions. This will allow for the full delivery of the landmark accord, after agreement on a transparency process which will hold countries to account as they deliver on their targets.

This includes Article 6, which establishes a robust framework for countries to exchange carbon credits through the UNFCCC.

Fossil fuel “phase down”

And for the first time, heeding calls from civil society and countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, the COP agreed to act on “phasing down” fossil fuels. COP decisions went further than ever before in recognizing and addressing loss and damage from the existing impacts of climate change.

There were also commitments to significantly increase financial support through the Adaptation Fund as developed countries were urged to double their support to developing countries by 2025.

The final COP26 text follows two years of intense diplomacy and campaigning undertaken by the UK Presidency to raise ambition and secure action from almost 200 countries.

Work focussed on driving the short-term reduction of emissions to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees C, mobilizing both public and private finance, and supporting communities to adapt to climate impacts.

When the UK took on the COP26 mantle, in partnership with Italy, nearly two years ago, only 30 percent of the world was covered by net-zero targets. This figure is now at around 90 percent.

Over the same period, 154 Parties have submitted new national targets, representing 80 percent of global emissions.

The UK Presidency has also been focused on driving action to deliver emissions reductions. There has been a huge shift in coal, with many more countries committing to phase out unabated coal power and ending international coal financing.

In addition, there has been a “marked commitment” to protect precious natural habitats, with 90 percent of the world’s forests covered by a pledge from 130 countries to end deforestation by 2030.

The transition to zero-emission vehicles is gathering pace, with some of the largest car manufacturers working together to make all new car sales zero-emission by 2040 and by 2035 in leading markets. Countries and cities are following suit with “ambitious” gasoline (petrol) and diesel car phaseout dates.

According to independent experts Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the full implementation of all net-zero announcements including the fresh collective commitments made during COP26 – the CAT’s “optimistic scenario” – could hold temperature rise to 1.8 degrees C.

The CAT also warned that the “good news” of the potential impact of announced net-zero targets was bringing “false hope” to the reality of the warming resulting from government inaction.

Even with the action committed both during and before COP26, communities around the world will continue to feel the impact of the changing planet.

I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26. From here, we must now move forward together and deliver on the expectations set out in the Glasgow Climate Pact, and close the vast gap which remains. Because as Prime Minister Mia Mottley (Barbados) told us at the start of this conference, for Barbados and other small island states, ‘two degrees is a death sentence’. It is up to all of us to sustain our lodestar of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach and to continue our efforts to get finance flowing and boost adaptation. After the collective dedication which has delivered the Glasgow Climate Pact, our work here cannot be wasted said COP26 President Alok Sharma.

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