COP26 Glasgow | 31 October to 12 November 2021


The time to act was yesterday

A year-long delay due to Corona combined with extreme weather events the world over contributed to extremely high expectations going into the conference – perhaps too high. With the differing needs, resources and interests of nearly 200 negotiating countries at its core, the UN climate process is, almost by definition, extremely complex and the promises of the countries present are only just the beginning. Real action only follows upon successful ratification of agreements by national parliaments and transposition into national legislation. So far, both national promises and action have been lacking.

Key points and caveats

  • A main goal of the conference was achieved: the finalisation of a rulebook governing the processes agreed in Paris six years ago.
  • While increasingly unrealistic due to inadequate results and pledges, the Glasgow pact maintains the 1.5°C goal as its foundation with a 45% reduction in global emissions by 2030.
  • The end of the coal era was hinted at for the first time with a call to “phase down” (as opposed to a “phase-out) “unabated” coal power.
  • While failing to mention the need to limit the use of fossil fuels other than coal, the pact called for a “phase-down” of “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.
  • While local authorities are not specifically mentioned, the final pact does recognise the role of “local communities” and civil society in climate action and even gives a nod to indigenous peoples as key players several times.
  • While there was no real outcome on the topic of loss and damage for less economically secure countries, the pact does urge developed countries to mobilise 100 billion USD annually for climate mitigation measures by 2025.
  • A total of 141 countries signed a declaration on forests and land to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”, although key signatory Indonesia later weakened its position.

    The Glasgow Climate Pact
    | UNFCCC press release

For all of its shortcomings, Glasgow saw each country commit to further action and may well have made an important contribution to preventing failure on an international level. When it comes to action on the ground, the municipal level continues to have a hugely important role to play. Climate Alliance was onsite in Glasgow, making the voices of its members heard.