COP 26

COP 26


  • The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) firms up the global commitment to accelerate action on climate this decade, it left many wondering if this deal is enough to limit global warming to 1.5°Cover pre-industrial levels.


  • Delivering climate-friendly cooling – The UNEP-led Cool Coalition announced a series of steps to reduce the climate impact of the cooling industry. UNEP research shows that just 1.5°C of global warming, a temperature limit the world currently looks set to far exceed, could leave 2.3 billion people vulnerable to heat waves. Cooling will be essential to protect human health and productivity.
  • Reducing methane emissions – With support from the European Union, UNEP launched the International Methane Emissions Observatory to drive action on reducing methane emissions – a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for at least a quarter of the current climate warming.
    • The Observatory will help monitor commitments made by state actors in the Global Methane Pledge – a US and EU-led commitment by over 100 countries to slash methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
  • Calling for more ambition
    • UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report 2021: The Heat is on released in the lead up to COP26 showed that the NDCs put the world on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by the end of the century.
    • Similarly, UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2021: The Gathering Storm called for urgent efforts to increase the financing and implementation of actions needed to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. The report found that while policies and planning are growing for climate change adaptation, financing and implementation is still far behind where they need to be.
  • Boosting nature-based solutions – Despite the cost-effectiveness of ecosystem-based adaptation as a strategy to tackle climate change, only 5 per cent of global climate finance flows are spent on adaptation – although UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ has appealed that 50 per cent of total climate finance should be committed to adaptation.
  • Ending deforestation, protecting peatlands ecosystems – More than 100 world leaders – from countries covering 85 per cent of the world’s forests – promised to end deforestation by 2030 and pledged $19.2 billion to this end, while more than 30 financial companies promised to end investment in activities linked to deforestation.
    • Another vital carbon store, peatlands, saw promises of increased cooperation between countries with large peatlands areas and the launch of the first-ever baseline map of global peatlands.
  • Phasing-Down Coal Consumption – Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels and an early phasing out of coal is clearly desirable. European countries have pushed hard for its phase out; however, developing countries have resisted this.
    • A middle path, as suggested by India, was referred to at the COP26 calling for a “phase-down” of coal-based power.


  • Voluntary Targets – The targets set at the meeting are voluntary with no mechanism for enforcement or penalties for non-compliance. Many targets are conditional on availability of adequate financial support.
  • Lack of Specific Details and Actions – Many countries have not provided details on specific actions to be taken which would determine the actual trajectory to net zero which creates uncertainty about what will be achieved.
  • Failure in Securing Climate Finance – The summit’s mild admonition only urges the developed country parties to scale up their provision of climate finance. It failed to firmly secure funding commitments from developed nations.
  • Unequal Distribution of Carbon Budget – The world’s top three largest emitters (China, USA, Europe) which account for about 30% of the world’s population, would take up 78% of the carbon budget.
    • China intends to hit peak emissions only by 2030, before going down to net zero in 2060; it would take up 54% of the global carbon budget against a global population share of only 18.7%.
    • The US, with 4.2% of the total population, would take up 14.2% of the budget and Europe, with 6.8%, would take up 9.5%.
    • This problem reflects the fact that focusing on net-zero dates does not ensure a fair apportioning of the available carbon space if the initial position in terms of emissions varies so greatly.


  • Suggestions for Largest Emitters – China, instead of increasing emissions up to 2030, as currently declared, may need to keep them at their current level for a few years and then go down to net zero by 2050.
    • The US should achieve a sharper reduction in emissions by 2030, and also advance its net-zero date to 2040.
    • Europe as a whole should follow the German/Swedish example and aim at net-zero by 2045.
    • With this recalibration, the carbon emissions of this group would fall to 32% of the carbon budget, much closer to their population share.
  • Suggestions for India – India’s 2070 target would take up 18.1% of the carbon space, which is a little higher than our population share of 17.7%.
    • It should be willing to consider a modification in its trajectory as part of an agreed global package, in which other countries also take appropriate action.
  • Coal-Based Power and India – India has made no commitments regarding phasing-down of coal-based power; however, its renewable energy goals 2030 are likely to reduce the share of the same from current 72% to about 50% by 2030.
    • Also, the government shall consider ordering against establishment of any new coal-based plants apart from those currently under construction.
    • What more is needed is a policy of accelerated retirement of older, inefficient and polluting plants, provided suitable financing can be obtained.
  • Encouraging Electric Vehicles (EVs) – India’s net-zero by 2070 also requires phasing out petrol and diesel in transport and shifting to Electric Vehicles (EVs) that use electricity from renewables.
    • In order to make the country’s entire fleet emissions-free by 2050, the government may consider announcing against the sale of fossil fuel based vehicles after 2035.
    • This would give the automotive sector about 15 years to restructure its production.
  • Need of Policy Changes – Expanding renewable capacity requires policy action aimed at resolving problems such as stabilizing intermittent supply from renewables, building transmission infrastructure, creating efficient electricity markets and fixing the financial weakness of India’s discoms.
  • These actions are not specified in the Nationally Determined Contributions but will have to be built into the domestic policy agenda in the years ahead.

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