take small steps
The COP26 climate summit ended this weekend with weak decisions on several important topics, such as climate adaptation and financing. However, the final text agreed between the countries ensures that member states can increase their climate ambitions in the short term and implement a binding climate policy. The ambition and prospect of limiting warming to 1.5 °C also remains.
At this summit, for the first time, an approved decision text addressed the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, as well as the need to increase investment in clean energy while ensuring a fair transition. The passage about cutting coal is significant, despite the lowdown on ambition in the final lesson. The climate summit also recognized that wealthier countries should help more vulnerable countries with compensation and resources, but promises made to this goal are not yet enough to make a real difference.
Tough deadlines, strong language and action are needed if we are to achieve the necessary transition from all fossil fuels. Countries know that there will be no solution to the climate crisis unless we switch to low-carbon in every sector in combination with concerted actions to halt nature loss and large-scale nature restoration. World leaders eventually shared an understanding of the importance of nature, but at the last minute the reference to natural solutions was removed from the final text in Glasgow.
Several affirmative agreements were recorded during the climate summit, not in the formal final text, but in the form of mutual agreements between groups of countries. some examples:
1. The Netherlands will stop using fossil fuels
The Netherlands still joins the leading group of countries that are blocking foreign investment in fossil fuels. Canada and the United States, major fossil investors, are also participating.
2. No more deforestation from 2030
More than a hundred world leaders agree at COP26: no more deforestation by 2030. As the WWF, we naturally think this is great news. But… we’re not just with a promise.
3. Merger of Marine Reserves
Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica have agreed to merge their marine reserves to create an interconnected region, creating one of the world’s richest areas of ocean biodiversity. This is a significant step towards preserving 30 percent of oceans by 2030 and means regional protection for important routes, for example, whales, sharks and sea turtles.
4. Forest Conservation
The European Union will spend one billion euros on the conservation of forests over the next five years. A quarter of that, 250 million euros, will go to eight countries in the Congo Basin. The Congo Basin is the second largest rainforest on Earth after the Amazon Basin and is located in Central Africa in the Congo River basin. The European contribution is part of a USD 12 billion (about EUR 10.3 billion) global forest finance pledge signed by more than 100 countries, including the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.
5. Reducing Methane Emissions
More than 100 countries have joined the United States and the European Union’s initiative to reduce global emissions of the greenhouse gas methane. Participating countries pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to ten years ago.
6. Private Capital for the Turnaround Economy
More than $130 trillion in private capital has been pledged through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) to invest in transforming the economy. These pledges from more than 450 companies in 45 countries could provide an estimated $100 trillion in funding needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions over the next three decades.
7. No new coal based power stations
Eighteen countries pledged not to build new coal-fired power stations. The British government announced late Wednesday that these countries want to “gradually become less dependent on coal” to generate electricity.
8. Reduces Shipping Emissions
Maritime shipping is also tightening climate targets. The sector previously promised to halve its CO2 emissions by 2050. Until then, ocean shipping does not want to release any additional CO2 into the atmosphere.
Strong goals needed in 2022, now is the time for action
WWF-NL calls on governments around the world, and in particular the Dutch government, to work on the agreements and commitments made during this climate summit. In 2022, countries should be able to set firm goals and show solidarity with the countries most vulnerable to climate change. It is also essential that the potential of natural solutions become part of the climate approach. There are opportunities to tackle climate change, now is the time to act.
The difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees (Source: WWF)
Text: WWF Netherlands
Photos: John E. Newby, WWF; Ricardo Lisboa and Andre Dib, WWF US and WWF Brasilla
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