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World NewsWhat’s at stake at COP26? A guide to the make-or-break climate issues

What’s at stake at COP26? A guide to the make-or-break climate issues

LONDON — World leaders are underneath enormous strain to define how they plan to cut back emissions and mitigate climate change at one among the most essential diplomatic summits in historical past.

The main climate occasion, referred to as COP26, will happen in Glasgow, Scotland from Sunday by to Nov. 12. It was initially scheduled to be held final yr however was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Diplomats and world leaders have sought to downplay expectations of success in the run-up to the summit, though a position paper of greater than 100 creating international locations representing greater than half of the world has insisted there will be “no more excuses for unfulfilled promises.”

To have any likelihood of capping international heating to 1.5 levels Celsius above pre-industrial ranges, the aspirational purpose of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world wants to nearly halve greenhouse fuel emissions in the subsequent 8 years and attain net-zero emissions by 2050.

Climate scientists have repeatedly pressured that the finest weapon to deal with rising international temperatures is to lower greenhouse fuel emissions — quick.

Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one among the world’s most influential Earth scientists, advised CNBC that he believes the success of COP26 will come down to negotiations on 5 make-or-break issues.

These are mitigation, climate finance, carbon pricing, nature options and the phasing out of fossil fuels.


“We must, at a minimum, have 195 countries aligning with science in their plans — not even delivering, but just in their plans — and that requires net zero targets by 2050 at the latest,” Rockstrom mentioned.

“We only have a small number of countries that have done that so far,” he added, noting that international locations similar to Indonesia, Russia and Brazil have been all but to publicly declare net-zero targets by the center of the century.

A U.N. report published earlier this week discovered new and up to date Nationally Determined Contributions put the world on monitor for a harmful international temperature rise of at least 2.7 levels Celsius by the finish of the century — even when plans have been absolutely met.

NDCs are the efforts of every nation to cut back nationwide emissions. At current, the U.N. says up to date NDCs would solely lead to a further 7.5% discount in annual greenhouse fuel emissions in contrast to earlier commitments.

Climate activists “set fire” to George Square, Glasgow, with an artwork set up of fake flames, smoke, and banners, and large hearth extinguishers, making a subject of climate hearth to welcome world leaders to Glasgow for the Cop26 convention.

Andrew Milligan | PA Images | Getty Images

Farhana Yamin, a climate lawyer and advisor to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, advised CNBC through phone that COP26 should set off a profound “justice reset” whether it is to be thought of a profitable summit. “Success can only come from grasping hard truths, speaking honestly and recognizing the situation of vulnerable countries.”

It just isn’t ok, she added, for these at COP26 to proceed speaking about their optimism for the future when international locations are nowhere shut to assembly the calls for of the climate emergency.

“Beating the drum and calling it optimism isn’t cutting the mustard with anybody. Optimism isn’t solving the lives of developing countries or vulnerable groups right now who are facing the consequences of failure,” Yamin mentioned.

“It’s like a further insult. What is optimism for a country that is now facing complete devastation?”


High-income international locations promised in 2009 to ship $100 billion a yr for 5 years from 2020 to assist low-income international locations pivot away from fossil fuels and defend towards climate breakdown. This Paris Agreement goal has still not been fulfilled and isn’t anticipated to be met till at least 2023.

“In all honesty, this is really just small money,” Rockstrom mentioned, noting the trillions of {dollars} in bailouts spent by international governments in an effort to get better from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are talking about the trillions that are needed to have a full 100% transition of investments from fossil-fuel-based infrastructure to renewable infrastructure so that we can really see decisive change and direction. There must be a finance discussion.”

Stop pretending loss and harm is not taking place and discover a means to fund it.

Farhana Yamin

Climate lawyer

Climate finance is extensively thought to be a critically essential subject, notably when it comes to repairing international belief.

“Success would be for countries to stop playing games with the issue of loss and damage and actually fund it,” Yamin mentioned. “Stop pretending loss and damage isn’t happening and find a way to fund it.”

Carbon pricing

To its proponents, carbon pricing is seen as an essential means to incentivize emissions reductions and assist low-carbon applied sciences compete with established, closely polluting options.

To its critics, nonetheless, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement dangers undermining the ambition of the accord at a time when there’s overwhelming proof of the want to go additional and sooner to keep away from climate tipping factors. This is as a result of some fear carbon buying and selling preparations may enable international locations to hit already-weak targets with out reducing further emissions.

“The third part which, whether we like it or not, has to be on the table is a price on carbon. That has to be discussed globally,” Rockstrom mentioned.

Electricity pylons are seen in entrance of the cooling towers of the coal-fired energy station of German power large RWE in Weisweiler, western Germany, on January 26, 2021.

Ina Fassbender | AFP | Getty Images

He argued that COP26 represented a “completely new situation” when it got here to carbon pricing as a result of, for the first time, Europe’s Emissions Trading System was “starting to bite” polluting industries.

The EU’s benchmark carbon value was final seen buying and selling at round 60 euros per metric ton, having stood at round 20 euros earlier than the coronavirus pandemic. The value rise has resulted in some coal-fired energy crops being shut down, Rockstrom mentioned. “I think we will start seeing carbon pricing spreading and so that has to be on the table at a global level,” he added.


“The fourth part and perhaps the most important one for Glasgow is to make this the first COP meeting that is really a nature COP,” Rockstrom mentioned. “It has to be the climate negotiating moment where we recognize that the only way to land the Paris Agreement, I mean the only way, is to secure the carbon sinks in nature — on land and in oceans. There is no carbon budget remaining unless we secure those sinks.”

Carbon sinks are pure areas, similar to oceans and forests, that take in extra carbon than they emit.

Rockstrom instructed pricing carbon in biomass, in soils and in all ecosystems needs to be taken under consideration in the coming weeks.

The U.Okay. COP26 presidency has recognized the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss can’t be solved with out addressing the different. Sustainable agriculture and land use and motion on restoring forests and different essential ecosystems are set to be mentioned in Scotland.

In an article published online for London-based assume tank Chatham House earlier this month, Yamin instructed that contemplating the rights of nature by authorized instruments similar to ecocide, for instance, and the taking the pursuits of future generations needs to be on the desk in Glasgow.

Another space to be thought of, Yamin mentioned, could be for COP26 to take into account making a publish for a “High-Level Champion” to communicate up for the incorporation of justice, equality, range and inclusion issues. She argued a COP-appointed place similar to this might assist to problem greenwashing.

Phasing out fossil fuels

A freight prepare transports coal from the Gunnedah Coal Handling and Prepararation Plant, operated by Whitehaven Coal Ltd., in Gunnedah, New South Wales, Australia, on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020.

David Gray | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“We have to have a serious discussion on end-dates on fossil fuels use. An end date on coal and an end date on the internal combustion engine,” Rockstrom mentioned.

“We’ve never had that moment arising in such a concrete way before. How do we create a way for the big emerging economies to seriously take on the challenge of phasing out coal in a way that allows a soft social landing? It is tremendously challenging but an absolute necessity.”

Research printed in the scientific journal Nature on Sept. 9 discovered the overwhelming majority of the world’s identified fossil gasoline reserves have to be saved in the floor to have some hope of stopping the worst results of climate change.


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