The Pledges of COP26: Week Two

Today marks the last day of the COP26 climate conference summit, in which hundreds of nations came together to listen to seminars about the impact of global warming, climate change and the carbon footprints of the energy sector. Highlighted in last week’s blog post (linked here for further reading, the first week of COP26 showcased a positive approach towards the future of the climate, with several important pledges signed by hundreds of nations.

However, as the second week of the conference proceeded, the bright outlook towards the fight against climate change appeared to have dampened. Nations reversed their pledges to certain commitments (or example Indonesia pulled out of the deforestation treaty), the view from environmentalist saw nations not putting enough effort in and a report from the Climate Action Tracker projected that with the current implements against climate change, the global climate would still rise by 2.4C, a detrimental increase in temperature which would see irreversible damage to the planet.

Therefore, on the final day of COP26, a representative from each nation must sign an agreement proposing the way in they will implement change to win this battle against climate change. A second draft of the document was revealed this morning after the initial draft released on Wednesday was critiqued for its lack of urgency towards tackling carbon emissions. The main point within the agreement highlights the usage of fossil fuels, most prevalent the use of coal, as well as how developed countries who produce a majority of the harmful emissions will financially assist developing nations which are most affected by climate change. There are reports that there is a lot of push back from richer nations to assist those without the same opportunity, however the conference will not end until the document has been unanimously agreed upon, with negotiations pushing the summits end later and later.

Regardless, the summit has seen some important pledges this week. The UK government proposed a pledge that would see all new heavy goods vehicles to be zero-emission by 2040. Alongside the commitment to stop production of domestic internal combustion vehicles by 2030, meaning that by 2040 all new vehicles produced in Britain will be completely electric. Additionally, the government signed a pledge committing all UK health services to achieve net zero emissions through a new global health program. Alongside the UK, 47 other nations pledged to develop low carbon and climate resilient health systems.

Finally, the last big promise from the UK government came in the form of a new £290 million funding scheme to reverse the impact of climate change in developing nations. The focus of the funds will be going to Asian and Pacific nations to invest in climate action, conservation, and low carbon development. With the summit situating in Glasgow, the UK have been at the forefront of the climate actions and with the pledges signed over the past two weeks It appears the government have a foot in the right direction, yet it will be interesting to see if it is enough to maintain a safe global climate temperature.

It is of note to mention that there are some commitments the UK have not entirely backed, this includes a coalition led by Denmark and Costa Rica which has pledged to halt the licensing of oil and gas production as a step to phase out fossil fuels. Ten nations have vowed to the ‘Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance’, including Ireland and Wales, yet the UK has not backed this proposal as a whole nation.

COP26 has been a fascinating event bringing the conversation of climate change to the forefront of both the popular conscious, as well as the leaders and representatives of the nations which are able to effectively alter the course of the future. It will be interesting to witness how the pledges made at the summit will be adhered to after the event, as well as what the final confirmed agreement will entail.