The Disappointment of COP26: Reviewing the Glasgow Pact

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 by mid century. COP26 was to be the latest installment in this ongoing conversation between world leaders, corporations and intergovernmental committees. Ultimately, COP26 did not present any serious guarantees of reaching the Paris Climate Agreement’s short term or long term goals. COP26 only concluded with ambiguous, unambitious goals.

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. 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. As coal combusts, several airborne pollutants are released, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide, particulates and ash. Coal burning is a prominent element climate destabilization, as it contributes to global warming and increasingly acidic oceans. 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… . 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 less resilient economies. Protests outside of COP26 erupted before the final event officially concluded. 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 explicit commitments. Without the implementation of targets, meaningful action can not be achieved. That said, more promises are likewise insufficient answers to immediate to answer immediate concerns for relief and infrastructure investments. COP26 has largely failed small island nations and those with emerging economies in this regard.

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