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COP26 reaches consensus on key actions to address climate change

Deliberations under the current session of the Conference of the Parties (COP), Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) came to an end on Saturday, November 13, 2021, in Glasgow, one day after their scheduled conclusion.

Alok Sharma
Alok Sharma, UK President of COP26

The wide-ranging set of decisions, resolutions and statements that constitute the outcome of COP26 has been described as the fruit of intense negotiations over the past two weeks, strenuous formal and informal work over many months, and constant engagement both in-person and virtually for nearly two years.

The package adopted on Saturday is said to be a global compromise that reflects a delicate balance between the interests and aspirations of nearly the 200 Parties to the core instruments on the international regime that governs global efforts against climate change.

Under the UK presidency and with the support of the UNFCCC Secretariat, delegates forged agreements that strengthen ambition in the three pillars of collective climate action.

Adaptation was the object of particular emphasis during the deliberations. Parties established a work programme to define the global goal on adaptation, which will identify collective needs and solutions to the climate crisis already affecting many countries. The Santiago Network was further strengthened by elaborating its functions in support of countries to address and manage loss and damage. And the CMA approved the two registries for NDCs and Adaptation Communications, which serve as channels for information flowing towards the Global Stocktake that is to take place every five years starting in 2023.

Finance was extensively discussed throughout the session and there was consensus in the need to continue increasing support to developing countries. The call to at least double finance for adaptation was welcomed by the Parties. The duty to fulfill the pledge of providing $100 billion annually from developed to developing countries was also reaffirmed. And a process to define the new global goal on finance was launched.

On mitigation, the persistent gap in emissions has been clearly identified and Parties collectively agreed to work to reduce that gap and to ensure that the world continues to advance during the present decade, so that the rise in the average temperature is limited to 1.5 degrees. Parties are encouraged to strengthen their emissions reductions and to align their national climate action pledges with the Paris Agreement.

In addition, a key outcome is the conclusion of the so-called Paris rulebook. An agreement was reached on the fundamental norms related to Article 6 on carbon markets, which will make the Paris Agreement fully operational. This will give certainty and predictability to both market and non-market approaches in support of mitigation as well as adaptation. And the negotiations on the Enhanced Transparency Framework were also concluded, providing for agreed tables and formats to account and report for targets and emissions.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, said: “I thank the Presidency and all Ministers for their tireless efforts throughout the conference and I congratulate all Parties on finalising the rulebook. This is an excellent achievement! It means that the Paris Agreement can now function fully for the benefit of all, now and in the future.”

Alok Sharma, UK President of COP26, said: “We can now say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But, its pulse is weak and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action. I am grateful to the UNFCCC for working with us to deliver a successful COP26.”

The Heads of State and Government and the delegates who participated in COP26 brought to the conference an awareness of the severity of the climate crisis that the world faces and of the need to live up to the historic responsibility of setting the world on the path to address this existential challenge.

They leave Glasgow with clarity on the work that needs to be done, more robust and effective instruments to achieve it, and a heightened commitment to promote climate action – and to do so more quickly – in every area.

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