The planet is facing a code red for humanity, with climate change escalating at an unprecedented rate

While 2015’s Paris Agreement set ambitious goals to limit global warming, the international community is failing to deliver on these goals, and the planet is heading towards a climate catastrophe.

Urgent and collective action is needed to fight climate change. From October 31 to November 12, 2021, global leaders from almost 200 countries are gathering together in Glasgow, United Kingdom for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to strengthen climate targets set in the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. As the world is not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius as outlined in the Paris Agreement, COP26 will require countries to set more ambitious goals for cutting emissions.

“Paris made promises, Glasgow must deliver,” tweeted Alok Sharma, President of COP26.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen governments and people around the world step up to protect lives and livelihoods, but climate change has continued, and the weather conditions around the world, such as storms, floods and wildfires have intensified. Climate change is the greatest risk facing us all, and now is the time to make significant changes towards creating cleaner air, restoring nature and, at the same time, cultivating new jobs and economic growth.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the UK, has said that the summit will be the world’s “moment of truth."

“Securing a brighter future for our children and future generations requires countries to take urgent action at home and abroad to turn the tide on climate change,” said Johnson. “It is with ambition, courage and collaboration as we approach the crucial COP26 summit in the UK that we can seize this moment together, so we can recover cleaner, rebuild greener and restore our planet.”

COP26 will be a carbon-neutral event, prioritizing emissions reductions and offsetting avoidable emissions. The goal is to work together to leave a positive legacy and incite other global events to proceed sustainably.

COP26 endeavours to achieve the following goals

1. Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

The world is currently not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, which will lead to more catastrophic flooding, bush fires, extreme weather events and loss of biodiversity. Immediate and severe action is needed and COP is asking countries to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net-zero by mid-century. 

2. Urgently adapt to protect communities and nature habitats

The climate and planet are undergoing critical changes, and the effects are being felt worldwide. People around the world are already facing extreme weather conditions that are heightened by the changing climate, with many seeing their homes lost to floods and their crops destroyed by drought. We must unite and support those who are the most vulnerable.

3. Mobilize finance

In order to achieve climate goals, developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100 billion in climate finance each year. Every company, financial firm, bank, insurer and investor needs to provide funding to develop infrastructure, propel technology and innovation and transition to a greener and more climate-resilient economy.

4. Work together to deliver

Global leaders at the COP26 must be committed to reaching an agreement on achieving the above goals in order to move toward a resilient, net-zero economy. The UN negotiations aim to finalize the ‘Paris Rulebook’, outlining the rules to implement the Paris Agreement, which will require consensus and commitment from all voices including governments, businesses and civil society in working together to lay the foundation for faster climate progress.

COP26 is a monumental event with ambitious and high-pressure goals that must yield real and effective results, or the planet will face severe consequences.

COP26 highlights: as of November 14, 2021

  • Opening Ceremony remarks include:
    • "We will all share in the benefits: affordable clean energy, healthy air and enough food to sustain us all.” Sir David Attenborough
    • “If we act now, and we act together, we can protect our precious planet.”COP President Alok Sharma
    • “But while COP26 will not be the end of climate change, it can and it must mark the beginning of the end”UK PM Boris Johnson
    • "Anything later than now is too little, too late.” Writer Yrsa Daley-Ward
    • “Success is entirely possible.” UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa
  • Over 100 leaders representing 85 percent of the world's forests have pledged to end deforestation by 2030.
  • The Global Methane Pledge now represents 46 percent of global methane emissions and 70 percent of the global economy.
  • New finance commitments are made, leading to significant progress by developed countries towards the $100 billionn goal. 95 percent of the top 20 developed countries have made pledges beyond 2020.
  • 23 countries are making new commitments to phase out coal power, including 5 of the world's top 20 coal power generators.
  • South Africa, France, Germany, UK and USA formed an ambitious, long-term partnership to support South Africa’s just transition to clean energy
  • 25 countries and public finance institutions committed to stop financing overseas fossil fuel energy projects by 2022 and shift to clean energy
  • Planned new coal generation pipeline globally has fallen by 76 percent since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

COP26 final outcomes: November 12, 2021

  • Over 130 countries, covering 90 percent of the world’s forests, have now committed to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
  • Countries representing 45 percent of forest cover are now engaged in the FACT (Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade) dialogue to halt forest loss in supply chains.
  • The US and China (the world’s two biggest CO2 emitters) pledged to boost climate cooperation over the next decade, declaring to “recall their firm commitment to work together” to achieve the 1.5 C goal. 
  • A scheme to cut 30 percent of current methane emissions by 2030 has been agreed upon by more than 100 countries.
  • More than 40 countries, including major coal users, such as Poland, Vietnam and Chile, agreed to shift away from coal.
  • Nineteen countries, including Canada, the US, Britain launched a plan for net-zero shipping lanes.
  • Ecuador expanded the Galapagos marine reserve by 60,000 square kilometres.
  • Twenty-four countries and a group of leading car manufacturers committed to end fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2040 or earlier.
  • Some 450 financial organizations, who between them control $130tn, agreed to back “clean” technology, such as renewable energy, and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries.