COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference which took place this November, 2021 in Glasgow. One of the primary goals of COP26 was to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2℃ by the middle of the 21st century. According to the Paris Climate Agreement, participant nations are also encouraged to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5℃ relative to preindustrial levels. COP26 was thus a long awaited event, as it was to be an opportunity to limit future warming, thereby abating the impacts of climate change. However, COP26 did not present any serious policy which guarantees that the promises of the Paris Climate Agreement will be met. COP26 only concluded with ambiguous, unambitious goals. This result leaves many disappointed with developed nation’s lack of accountability; namely The China, the United States and India.

Ambiguous, Unambitious Goals

Toward the end of the 2 week United Nations Climate Change conference, a meaningful change was made to the wording of the final decision. The phasing out of coal, was changed to the phasing down of coal. This the latter wording can be found in the Glasgow Pact document. Sources reveal that this change was first proposed by representatives from India, and garnered support from China. Coal burning is a prominent element adverse environmental changes, including global warming. You see, as coal combusts, several airborne pollutants are released, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, particulates and ash. Though COP26 is the first climate agreement to explicitly mention coal, the tentative promise to phase down coal use this century is not assuring.

The Glasgow Pact “emphasizes the need to mobilize climate finance from all sources to reach the level
needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, including significantly increasing
support for developing country Parties, beyond USD 100 billion per year… . Merely “emphasizing the need” is not a commitment. As for the US$100 billion per year by 2020 pledge, first proposed in 2009, the Glasgow Pact “notes with deep regret that the goal” has not yet been met. But secures no further progress on this front. This is a failure to small island and developing nations, who are already feeling the effects of climate change and are predicted to be disproportionately affected due to their less resilient economies. World leaders participating in COP26 recognizes the need to support developing country parties, but failed to enact solutions which address the needs of emerging economies. This led to protests outside of COP26 to erupt. Hundreds of civil society representatives were dissatisfied with the conclusions reached during the climate convention. Even more frustrations have been articulated online.

COP26 tweet

The 7th subtitle, “Implementation“, makes no explicit commitments

The “implementation” section of the Glasgow pact likewise makes no definite promises that citizens will be able to hold world leaders accountable for. Without the implementation of international targets, meaningful action can not be achieved. That said, more promises are not a sufficient answer to global climate change concerns. COP26 must be recognized as a failure, as it does not secure serious progress for climate change mitigation strategies. Developed nations’ world leaders, non governmental organizations and energy conglomerates will have to do much better than that.

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