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Glasgow COP26 Climate Summit: What to Expect


By L. Maizland

Representatives from countries from around the world will gather in Glasgow, Scotland for a new round of climate negotiations - the twenty-sixth Conference of the Parties (COP26) - during the first two weeks of November.

The conference comes at a time when worries about the Earth's climate are reaching a new peak. As greenhouse gas emissions and global temperatures continue to rise, causing unprecedented disasters around the world, the focus is on whether negotiators can make progress on issues such as climate finance, coal use and methane emissions.

Scientists and UN officials have warned that unless governments take drastic measures to immediately reduce emissions, much of the world will suffer from climate disasters such as devastating sea level rise, longer and stronger heatwaves, and widespread loss of species.

Six years ago, almost all countries signed the Paris Agreement, which obliged them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, emissions that are causing the earth to warm continued to rise faster than expected. Emissions have reached historic levels this year, despite a brief decline last year at the start of the pandemic.

The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global average temperature from rising by 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels and to prevent it from rising 2 ° C higher. But the world has already warmed by 1.1 ° C, and a UN estimate released in August predicted warming will exceed 1.5 ° C over the next two decades.

COP26 marks the first time since the Paris Agreement that countries have revised their voluntary commitments under the agreement. More than one hundred countries have already submitted new targets, known as nationally determined contributions. However, experts say that even these new commitments are not enough to stave off a sharp rise in temperatures.

What are the goals of COP26? The debate is likely to focus on the following issues:

  1. Climate finance. Climate finance is likely to be one of COP26's toughest issues, experts say. The developing countries, which contribute the least to emission levels, are demanding that developed countries fulfill their pledge to mobilize $ 100 billion a year to help them reduce emissions and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change. Another challenge is expected to arise: how to help countries already suffering losses and damage from climate change.
  2. Carbon Markets. All components of the so-called Paris Agreement set of rules - the guidelines for the implementation of the agreement - have already been agreed, with the exception of Article 6. This section deals with how to develop and implement the so-called international carbon markets that enable the trading of emission reduction credits.
  3. Coal. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hosting COP26, has called on developed countries to stop using coal - the main source of emissions - by 2030 and other countries to phase out coal by 2040. However, the coal debate is already controversial. Earlier this year, the G7 was unable to agree on a date to end the use of coal. China and India, which have been hit by an energy crisis in recent weeks, due in part to coal shortages, have also refused to stop using coal.
  4. Methane. The leaders will officially pledge to cut methane emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030 - a target the US and the European Union announced in September. More than a dozen countries have already signed the pact. The world's largest methane producer, China, has yet to join.

Who goes? About twenty thousand diplomats, business leaders and activists are expected to gather in Glasgow. Dozens of world leaders are also planning to attend, including US President Joe Biden. This will be the first Conference of the Parties since the United States re-acceded to the Paris Agreement this year, and the Biden administration is likely to play an important role in the negotiations. On the other hand, the leaders of such countries as important for the preservation of the climate as Russia and Brazil will confine themselves to the representation of officials responsible for relevant issues at the national level. Also, it is not yet known whether the leader of the PRC will take part in the summit.


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