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

LONDON — World leaders are beneath large strain to stipulate how they plan to scale back emissions and mitigate local weather change at one of the essential diplomatic summits in historical past.

The most important local weather occasion, known as COP26, will happen in Glasgow, Scotland from Sunday by way of to Nov. 12. It was initially scheduled to be held final 12 months however was delayed as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

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

To have any probability of capping world heating to 1.5 levels Celsius above pre-industrial ranges, the aspirational aim of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the world must virtually halve greenhouse fuel emissions within the subsequent 8 years and attain net-zero emissions by 2050.

Local weather scientists have repeatedly pressured that the very best weapon to deal with rising world temperatures is to chop greenhouse fuel emissions — fast.

Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Local weather Influence Analysis and one of many world’s most influential Earth scientists, instructed CNBC that he believes the success of COP26 will come all the way down to negotiations on 5 make-or-break points.

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


“We should, at a minimal, have 195 international locations aligning with science of their plans — not even delivering, however simply of their plans — and that requires web zero targets by 2050 on the newest,” Rockstrom mentioned.

“We solely have a small variety of international locations which have achieved that to this point,” he added, noting that international locations equivalent 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 Decided Contributions put the world on observe for a harmful world temperature rise of at the least 2.7 levels Celsius by the tip of the century — even when plans have been totally met.

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

Local weather activists “set fireplace” to George Sq., Glasgow, with an artwork set up of fake flames, smoke, and banners, and big fireplace extinguishers, making a area of local weather fireplace to welcome world leaders to Glasgow for the Cop26 convention.

Andrew Milligan | PA Pictures | Getty Pictures

Farhana Yamin, a local weather lawyer and advisor to the Local weather Weak Discussion board, instructed CNBC by way of phone that COP26 should set off a profound “justice reset” whether it is to be thought-about a profitable summit. “Success can solely come from greedy laborious truths, talking actually and recognizing the state of affairs of weak international locations.”

It isn’t ok, she added, for these at COP26 to proceed speaking about their optimism for the long run when international locations are nowhere near assembly the calls for of the local weather emergency.

“Beating the drum and calling it optimism is not slicing the mustard with anyone. Optimism is not fixing the lives of growing international locations or weak teams proper now who’re going through the results of failure,” Yamin mentioned.

“It is like an additional insult. What’s optimism for a rustic that’s now going through full devastation?”


Excessive-income international locations promised in 2009 to ship $100 billion a 12 months for 5 years from 2020 to assist low-income international locations pivot away from fossil fuels and shield towards local weather breakdown. This Paris Settlement goal has still not been fulfilled and isn’t anticipated to be met till at the least 2023.

“In all honesty, that is actually simply small cash,” Rockstrom mentioned, noting the trillions of {dollars} in bailouts spent by world governments in an effort to recuperate from the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re speaking concerning the trillions which can be wanted to have a full 100% transition of investments from fossil-fuel-based infrastructure to renewable infrastructure in order that we are able to actually see decisive change and course. There should be a finance dialogue.”

Cease pretending loss and harm is not occurring and discover a approach to fund it.

Farhana Yamin

Local weather lawyer

Local weather finance is extensively considered a critically essential subject, significantly in terms of repairing world belief.

“Success can be for international locations to cease taking part in video games with the difficulty of loss and harm and really fund it,” Yamin mentioned. “Cease pretending loss and harm is not occurring and discover a approach to fund it.”

Carbon pricing

To its proponents, carbon pricing is seen as an essential approach 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 Settlement dangers undermining the ambition of the accord at a time when there may be overwhelming proof of the necessity to go additional and quicker to keep away from local weather tipping factors. It’s because some fear carbon buying and selling preparations may enable international locations to hit already-weak targets with out slicing further emissions.

“The third half which, whether or not we prefer it or not, needs to be on the desk is a worth on carbon. That needs to be mentioned globally,” Rockstrom mentioned.

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

Ina Fassbender | AFP | Getty Pictures

He argued that COP26 represented a “fully new state of affairs” when it got here to carbon pricing as a result of, for the primary time, Europe’s Emissions Buying and selling System was “beginning to chew” polluting industries.

The EU’s benchmark carbon worth 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 feel we are going to begin seeing carbon pricing spreading and in order that needs to be on the desk at a worldwide degree,” he added.


“The fourth half and maybe an important one for Glasgow is to make this the primary COP assembly that can be a nature COP,” Rockstrom mentioned. “It needs to be the local weather negotiating second the place we acknowledge that the one approach to land the Paris Settlement, I imply the one means, is to safe the carbon sinks in nature — on land and in oceans. There isn’t a carbon funds remaining except we safe these sinks.”

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

Rockstrom urged pricing carbon in biomass, in soils and in all ecosystems must be taken under consideration within the coming weeks.

The U.Ok. COP26 presidency has recognized the dual threats of local weather change and biodiversity loss can’t be solved with out addressing the opposite. Sustainable agriculture and land use and motion on restoring forests and different important ecosystems are set to be mentioned in Scotland.

In an article published online for London-based suppose tank Chatham Home earlier this month, Yamin urged that contemplating the rights of nature by way of authorized instruments such as ecocide, for instance, and the taking the pursuits of future generations must be on the desk in Glasgow.

One other space to be thought-about, Yamin mentioned, can be for COP26 to think about making a publish for a “Excessive-Degree Champion” to talk up for the incorporation of justice, equality, range and inclusion points. She argued a COP-appointed place equivalent to this might assist to problem greenwashing.

Phasing out fossil fuels

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

David Grey | Bloomberg | Getty Pictures

“We’ve to have a critical dialogue on end-dates on fossil fuels use. An finish date on coal and an finish date on the interior combustion engine,” Rockstrom mentioned.

“We have by no means had that second arising in such a concrete means earlier than. How will we create a means for the large rising economies to significantly tackle the problem of phasing out coal in a means that permits a smooth social touchdown? It’s tremendously difficult however an absolute necessity.”

Analysis revealed within the scientific journal Nature on Sept. 9 discovered the overwhelming majority of the world’s identified fossil gasoline reserves should be stored within the floor to have some hope of stopping the worst results of local weather change.

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