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The essentials of the Glasgow Pact (COP26) 2021

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Context - The 26th World Climate Conference of the Parties represents a consensus for the United Nations on key actions to address climate change.

The outstanding issues that prevented full implementation of the Paris Agreement on carbon markets and transparency were finally agreed.

  • Source document:UNFCCC (2021)
  • Summary & Details: GreenFacts
Latest update: 25 January 2022



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The 26th World Climate Conference (COP26) ended with the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact, which, after six years of hard negotiations, represents a consensus for the United Nations on key actions to address climate change. The outstanding issues that prevented the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on carbon markets and transparency were finally agreed.

1. What are the main achievements of the Glasgow Pact?

The most concrete achievement in Glasgow was that signatory countries agreed to revise and strengthen their 2030 targets to bring them in line with the temperature target of the Paris Agreement. By the end of next year, and for those that have not yet done so, countries should at least formally submit a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) or ensure that their participation is reflected in their current NDCs.

A second, more symbolic, step forward is that the COP26 decision text explicitly mentions fossil fuels, without including gas and oil, and mentions as well to end "inefficient subsidies" for fossil fuels.

A new declaration entitled "Learning for our Planet: Climate Action" also commits countries to review progress against their commitments before COP27.

2. Which organisations took part to put the Glasgow Pact decisions into practice?

Civil society organisations, business leaders and ministers met in a special session to put in place concrete, immediate and long-term actions and to discuss how all parts of society should be involved in the actions needed to tackle climate change, and they seemed determined to act.

3. How was the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C addressed?

Participating countries recognised the scientific evidence produced by the IPCC which (de)shows that more needs to be done to limit global warming to 1.5°C by reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 45% within this decade. Eighty-one countries representing nearly three quarters of global emissions have now committed to achieving this goal of zero emissions by mid-century.

However, parties have only been "encouraged" to deepen their emissions reductions and align their national climate action commitments with the Paris Agreement.

Current efforts are insufficient: if all commitments are met in full and on time, they will only succeed in limiting temperatures to 1.8°C by the end of the century.

4. Have the Paris Agreement's Implementing Rules been adopted?

Six years after it was signed, an agreement on the Paris Rulebook on the functioning of the carbon markets was adopted. It includes a five-yearly update of the "Nationally Determined Contributions" of all parties, and governance rules on the transparency of actions undertaken. Rules overseeing international "carbon markets" are also adopted and a "monitoring body" will start in 2022 to develop methodologies and administrative requirements for the market.

5. What measures have been adopted specifically on climate change adaptation?

The Glasgow Pact states that support for adaptation to the unavoidable consequences of climate change should be doubled by 2025 from 2019 levels and a process to define the new global financing target has been launched. A work programme to define the global adaptation target will identify collective needs and solutions to the climate crisis already affecting many countries. A two-year Glasgow Dialogue is also being launched to discuss how to finance activities to avoid, minimise and address loss and damage.

6. What were the measures adopted on "carbon markets"?

A global carbon market now complements the rules on greenhouse gas measurement, transparency of actions taken and harmonised methods for "reporting" national results adopted in 2018 at COP24 and the 2018 Katowice Conference. The conditions for trading allowances between States will be regulated according to binding standards and established monitoring.

An independent panel of experts will be set up to provide governments with advice and clear standards for measuring and analysing "net-zero emissions" commitments.

7. What will be the international financing of climate plans?

The obligation to deliver on the pledge of a USD 100 billion budget, which has never been reached so far, was reaffirmed. A central element of the decisions adopted at COP26 is the affirmation of solidarity with the vulnerable states most exposed to the impacts of climate change.

For the first time, a COP truly recognises and values the role of indigenous peoples and local communities. Several governments and foundations have committed to invest 1.7 billion dollars to support the efforts of these indigenous and local populations.

8. What progress has the Pact made on biodiversity and deforestation?

In Glasgow, countries representing over 90% of the world's forests made a multinational commitment to halt deforestation by 2030. The funding needs are estimated at between US$ 78 and 91 billion per year. The declaration includes a Global Forest Finance Pledge to "help benefit forests and sustainable land use".

The decisions of the Glasgow Pact have also well integrated the contribution of ecosystems as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and the importance of protecting them in order to achieve the objective of a maximum temperature increase of 1.5°C.

9. What measures were adopted regarding the oceans?

The oceans are mentioned in the preamble of the Glasgow Pact, which stresses "the importance of ensuring the integrity of all ecosystems, including forests, the ocean and the cryosphere, in particular following the Ocean for Climate Declaration".

More specifically, Article 60 of the Pact calls on the various programmes of work and bodies to integrate and strengthen ocean-based actions in their mandates and roadmaps and to report on these activities through existing reporting processes.

Article 61 provides for the organisation of an annual Ocean-Climate Dialogue under the auspices of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice, known as the SBSTA.

10. What decisions were taken on the use of fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) as energy sources?

A COP26 decision explicitly mentions fossil fuels, which account for 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions. This is the first time ever that a COP has included a component involving the global energy transition through accelerating the phase-out of coal and reducing fossil fuel subsidies. The final text only mentions a "gradual reduction" and not a "phase-out of coal". Some 20 countries have joined an agreement to end foreign financing of fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022.

11. What was decided on methane emissions?

Almost 100 countries have signed the Global Methane Pledge, the initiative to reduce methane emissions (25 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas) by at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2020. Canada and the US committed to a 75% reduction in the oil and gas sector.

12. What was the role of young people in climate issues?

The Young Climate Leaders, meeting at COP26 with negotiators, officials and ministers from around the world, brought together young experts from communities with the ambition to highlight urgent climate priorities. They presented the COY16 declaration to the Global Youth Position, which represents the views of over 40,000 young climate leaders from around the world.


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