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We were at COP26. It had mixed outcomes

We were at COP26. It had mixed outcomes

A woman surrounded by two men in front of a COP26 poster

The recent COP26 was eagerly awaited. Originally scheduled for 2020 the event was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also intended to be a major step towards implementing the Paris Agreement.

According to the Sixth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeThe climate crisis has never been more urgent. Just a few weeks after the summit, the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact, it’s time to look back at the event, both on paper and on the ground.

We are researchers at the University of Ottawa, and the University of Cambridge in environmental law and governance. Three of us were present at COP26 in Glasgow, and we had the opportunity to witness it first-hand. Centre Québécois du droit de l’environnement (Québec Centre for Environmental Law).

A woman surrounded by two men in front of a COP26 poster
From left to right: Thomas Burelli, Lauren Touchant and Alexandre Lillo, the three representatives of the Centre Québécois du droit de l’environnement at COP26.
(Thomas Burelli), Author provided

Access, inequalities, and transparency

COP26 was unusually flavorful, as it was held in the middle a pandemic. Preparations were marked by complexity and uncertaintyAccess issues and other issues were everywhere.

Access to the site was physically restricted. challenge from the start. Due to security measures and health restrictions, many participants were subject to long wait times. sometimes up to several hours.

The congestion was predictable. single entry point. Nearly 40,000 accreditationsThe venue was not able to accommodate the number of people due to health restrictions. limited to about 10,000 people. Quickly, equity issues were created from access issues.

Alok Sharma, COP26 president
Alok Sharma, President of COP26, faced complex organizational challenges.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

First, there were incidents accessibility standards. There was also criticismHere are some of the challenges faced by delegates from developing nations in getting to the negotiations tables.

Why are there travel restrictions, visa issues, access to COVID-19 and affordable lodging? several countries and citizens’ movements were absentThis makes the COP even more powerful more exclusiveUnlike the past. The presenceAnd roleDuring the event, there were also disputes over the participation of Indigenous representatives.

Access issues were not only important, but transparency was also an issue, as accreditation did no guarantee access to critical conversations. For example, Canadian observers were not allowed to attend Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s press conference. Also, there were heated discussions about Article 6 in the Paris Agreement. debates about the inclusion of observers in the negotiations.

Justin Trudeau and Steven Guilbault
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault during a press conference in Glasgow, Nov. 2.
The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick

Was the negotiation a success?

1. The 1.5 C target remains alive, but is in critical condition.

The Glasgow Climate Pact did not require states to make new commitments to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. They do now recognize — following recommendations by the IPCC — the importance of reducing global emissions 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, and of achieving carbon neutrality around 2050.

However, there is still a large gap between these targets as well as the commitments made by states to date. This could result in an overall increase of 13.7 percent in emissions compared to 2010. The fact that only 112 countries have updated their emission standards nationally determined contributions (NDCs)This is also alarming.




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States that haven’t provided the required update in this year’s COP are encouraged to do so immediately. While the fact that the 1.5 C degree temperature increase target remains “alive” is a positive sign, concrete measures to achieve it are still lacking.

2. Unprecedented progress in ending fossil fuel consumption

One of the greatest achievements at COP26 came from the inclusion of coal and fossil fuels in the pact. In fact, this is the first time that fossil fuels and coal have been mentioned in the pact. the elephant in the roomCOP. Parties are called upon to accelerate efforts to “phase down” unabated coal power and to phase out “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies.

Open-pit coal mine
China’s Fuxin coal mine is an open-pit, Chinese coal mine. For the first time, the elephant in the room — fossil fuels and coal — has been included in the outcome of a COP.
(Shutterstock)

It was about time, even though it was difficult to understand the text. weakened at the last minute. The strong presence fossil fuel lobbiesObserve the following things during negotiations




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Climate change denial 2.0 was on full display at COP26, but there was also pushback


COP26 offered a chance to strengthen or launch certain alliances between countries. This was the case with the Powering Past Coal AllianceCanada co-founded, which aims eliminate poverty. unabated coal power. It now has 165 member (national governments, regional governments and various organizations), including 28 that joined during COP26.

Another example is: Beyond Oil and Gas AllianceThe aims to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. QuébecCanada has not joined the list. Lastly, around 20 states, including Canada have committed to ending new international fossil fuels subsidies.

These agreements are reached in parallel with the main negotiations. They may enable states to take action on matters where there is still no international consensus.

A man and a woman, from behind, contemplate the space set up for COP26
Lauren Touchant (media and conferences) and Thomas Burelli (action zone) at the COP26 site.
(Thomas Burelli), Author provided

3. Missing targets to support South

In 2009, at COP15 in Copenhagen, developed countries committed to financial assistance to developing countries in reducing climate change. They mobilized a variety of financial resources to do so. US$100 billion per year2020. Unfortunately, this target was not met.

Canada and Germany did show some leadershipmobilising new funding to assist vulnerable countries adapt. Canada announced at the G7 Summit, June that it was increasing its climate finance by doubling. $5.3 billion over five years.




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COP26: 4 ways rich nations can keep promises to curb emissions and fund climate adaptation


Recognizing that developed countries are failing to adhere to their financial obligations, the Glasgow Climate PactThey are urged to achieve the US$100billion annual target as soon as possible. This is in addition to the adoption of a more ambitious target for 2025. Developed countries are encouraged to at least double their contributionsClimate change adaptation in developing countries

During climate finance negotiations, the developing countries and the island states demanded the establishment of a mechanism to finance the loss and damageClimate change. This demand is not satisfied by the Glasgow Climate Pact. It only calls for “dialogue” on the issue and mentions the allocation of funding, as yet unknown, to the Santiago Network.

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Pencil drawings of different arches.

COP26 marks broken climate finance promises and didn’t bring new and specific targets that would help vulnerable countries, particularly developing and island countries, to deal with the climate crisis. Their needs are increasing exponentially.

Marshallese delegate at COP26
Kristina Stege, a Marshall Islands delegates, attends a plenary. COP26 didn’t set new targets to help developing and island states in addressing the climate emergency.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

4. Final adoption of emission-trading regulations, but it is weak

COP26 had one goal: to promote the development of the rules for emissions tradingThis is based on Article 6 (Paris Agreement), which allows countries or companies to purchase credits from others and subtract them from their own emission inventories.




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Parties failed to adopt the required rules at COP24 Katowice. at COP25 in Madrid. Their adoption in Glasgow is therefore a success.

One could be more critical about the Glasgow outcome when it comes to the possible impacts that certain emissions-trading programs may have on local communities. Since COP21 several proposalsThis issue has been discussed, and there is the possibility of creating an appeal based on human rights against the certification of projects that are aimed at reducing emissions.

Indeed, as illustrated by cases in Chile and PanamaMany credits permitted under the Kyoto Protocol are associated to rights violations. A Glasgow appeal mechanism was created, but it is fragile. With non-governmental organisations such as Amnesty InternationalIt is alarming to note that the purchase of carbon credit by individuals, governments and companies in Canada is not an easy option for net-zero emission.

Already looking ahead to next COP

According to the COP26 presidency, while “Paris promised, Glasgow must deliver.” It is clear that Glasgow did not deliver on everything. COP26 did see some progress and new announcements, but the national commitments — in addition to having to pass the implementation test — fall far short of what science requires.




Continue reading:
Climate clock reset shows the world is one year closer to 1.5 C warming threshold


The 1.5 C degree target has been set still aliveIt is a beautiful thing, but one wonders if it will survive. Various estimatesThe prediction of a temperature rise was made in the context of negotiations to include new commitments. 1.8 CTo 2.7 C. Yet, it is often difficult to find the right measures to meet these promises.

Yasmine Fouad at COP26
Egypt’s Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad in Glasgow, Scotland. Her country will host the 2022 climate summit, COP27.
(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

We are still far from achieving the 1.5 C-degree target. This would have grave consequences for our societies as well as an even greater impact upon the most vulnerable countries, groups, and individuals.

Aside from the health challenges that are again on the horizon COP27The UN Convention on Climate Change celebrates its 30th anniversary in Egypt next year. Given the lackluster progress since the 1992 Earth SummitCOP27 should focus on the achievement of the many goals and targets that have been set over the years.



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