COP26: The pledges that captured most media attention

The COP26 Climate Conference was labelled the world’s ‘last chance saloon’ to save the planet from climate disaster, yet the disappointment felt around the world at the end of the conference was palpable. With a late in the day deal struck between the US, India and China which watered down the phasing out of coal use, it seemed that the 15-day summit ended on a bit of a sour note.

And while it’s easy to assume a ‘doom and gloom’ outlook, it’s important to remember the fantastic progress was made during COP, and to consider the pledges that will secure a greener future.
Taking a step back, we’ve looked at the ways the international community is working to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels

The Global Methane Pledge
One of the most potent greenhouse gasses is methane, with scientists predicting that it has increased global temperatures by up to 1.1C since the industrial revolution. The need to limit this gas is vital if the world is not going to lose its fight against the climate emergency.

The global methane pledge, signed by over 100 countries including the US and EU nations, went some way to support suppressing the level of this dangerous gas being emitted around the world. The global agreement looks to cut emissions of methane by 2030 to 30% of the level emitted in 2020.

While China, India and Russia decided against agreeing to the pledge, there was broad agreement the speed at which countries agreed to limit methane emissions was an incredibly positive step forward.

Glasgow Breakthroughs
The Glasgow Breakthroughs initiative looks to provide innovative technology to the developing world by 2030 to help support these nations in hitting net-zero targets.

The “Breakthrough Agenda” was signed by over 40 world leaders including the US, India and China, to help make clean technology more affordable and accessible across the world. The pledge will look to focus on delivering clean technology across power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture.

The Glasgow Breakthrough plan is predicted to create 20 million new jobs globally and deliver $16 trillion throughout developing and advanced economies. While the benefits will be huge for the environment, it’s also incredibly positive to see the pledge deliver gains to the wider economy.

‘Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use’
One of the first major announcements to come out of COP26 was on the support nations were going to give to ending deforestation around the world. The declaration, signed by 137 countries, looks to “halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.”

Unfortunately, between 2001 and 2020 there has been around a ten percent decrease in tree coverage globally. With forestation providing a vital resource in helping to reduce carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, this announcement could be vital to support ending this downturn.

The signed pledge included £14billion to help support and protect rainforests around the world, however, some were concerned that this declaration didn’t go far enough with no immediate action required to end deforestation in the short term.

Transition to EVs
There was no major global breakthrough in the move to more sustainable modes of transport, however, COP26 did provide the impetus from some nations to deliver new pledges in driving towards increased use of EVs.

Countries such as Australia and Poland pledged to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, while car manufacturing businesses such as Mercedes-Benz and Volvo promised to only make zero-emission vehicles by 2035. However, despite these positive steps forward four of the world’s largest manufacturers — Volkswagen, Toyota, the Renault-Nissan alliance, and Hyundai-Kia — have not signed up to the pledge.

Another move in a more sustainable direction was the move by the UK government, which has been one of the leading nations in pushing towards the use of EVs, announcing its plan for all new heavy good vehicles to be zero-emission by 2040.

The transport agenda may have been seen as one of the biggest disappointments of the whole summit, however, it’s worth recognising the value and strides many countries and companies are taking to transition to these greener vehicles.

It’s clear that while there were some major disagreements between nations on how to fight back against rising temperatures, the COP26 Climate Conference did create vital initiatives to combat the climate emergency. There is huge scope out there for nations, businesses, and individuals to create innovative solutions so that the world does not lose its battle against climate catastrophe.

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