COP26: Final day focuses on negotiating climate agreement

Published on 12th Nov 2021

Welcome to the tenth (and final) instalment of our daily COP26 updates: a digest of what is on the agenda each day, and a review of the previous day's events.

On the ground in Glasgow

Osborne Clarke's Head of Decarbonisation, James Watson, was in Glasgow for COP26 again this week and, as the conference events wrap up , commented:

"It will take some time to work out if the COP has truly been a success relative to other COPs. However, the last two weeks have shown a huge amount of collaboration and goodwill exists between governments, companies and the wider net zero community. For me, that is the legacy: an acknowledgement that collaboration can create the opportunities to globally decarbonise."

Review of yesterday's events

Thursday's agenda at COP26 focussed on cities, regions and the built environment. The events brought together national, regional and city level leaders, alongside the private sector, to deliver collaboration that can accelerate climate action over the next decade. Highlights included:

  • The UK pledged £27.5 million of new funding for the new Urban Climate Action Programme (UCAP) to support cities targeting net zero. The programme is to be funded through International Climate Finance , a UK government commitment to support developing countries, and will help cities across Africa, Asia and Latin America to take climate action and create a sustainable future. The programme hopes to help cities implement innovative climate action plans to become carbon neutral by 2050 and prepare low-carbon infrastructure projects to reduce emissions.
  • UCAP will help cities to implement projects like low-emission public transport systems, renewable energy generation, sustainable waste management, new climate-smart building codes and climate risk planning. The programme will be delivered in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a global network of cities focussed on climate action, and GIZ, the German development agency.
  • UCAP will build on the flagship Climate Leadership in Cities programme, which successfully supported megacities in Latin America and Asia to develop ambitious climate action plans consistent with the Paris Agreement; including developing pathways to net zero by 2050 and committing to ambitious interim targets by 2030 to keep 1.5°C within reach.
  • A coalition of international investors have committed to collectively channel $1 billion towards rolling out electric buses across Latin America, in an announcement made through a partnership led by C40 Cities and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).

On the agenda today

No COP26 events are scheduled: today the focus is on negotiations between the conference parties around the most recent draft climate agreement that was released this morning.

In the wake of all the promises and pledges we have seen at COP26 in the last two weeks, the final version of this agreement will contain the collective commitments of the conference's parties and become the benchmark against which the world will measure the success of COP26.

Notably, the most recent draft agreement retains a pledge for countries to update their nationally determined contributions by 2022. Some other key features of the draft agreement are as follows:

  • Mitigation – the agreement calls upon the parties to accelerate the transition towards low-emission energy systems and to accelerate "the phase-out of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels". Environmental campaign groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the strength of this commitment, believing that this weak gesture throws a lifeline to fossil fuels as countries will still be able to rely on "abated" coal power if they utilise carbon capture technologies alongside it.
  • Adaptation – the draft agreement calls upon multilateral development banks and financial institutions to effect the mobilisation of finance in order to deliver the resources required for climate action and adaptation plans in less developed countries.
  • Finance – the agreement notes with "deep regret" that the goal , set at COP15, of the parties to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020 has not been met and welcomes the further pledges of delegates at COP26 to ensure this target is met without delay. With the failure to reach the $100 billion per year target representing a significant sticking point in the negotiations at COP26, the acknowledgement by parties that they have failed to meet this promise represents progress that may galvanise parties towards ensuring it is eventually fulfilled in future .
  • Collaboration – the most recent draft emphasises the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in producing effective action on climate change. The agreement urges the parties to actively involve marginalised communities in designing and implementing climate change solutions.

While many commentators recognise that this most recent draft agreement contains many of the elements required to stay within the goal of a maximum global temperature increase of 1.5°C, environmental interest groups have already raised concerns about the softening of the language since the first draft agreement. With negotiations set to continue today, and possibly into the weekend, the success of COP26 is yet to be decided.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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