by: Zach Harmer | Strategic Policy & Markets Manager | November 30, 2021
I had the honor of attending the Conference of Parties 26th (COP26) meeting in Glasgow, UK, on behalf of ClimeCo. Upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised to see how Glasgow had wholly transformed to facilitate the arrival of over 30,000 participants. From airport and train station signage to rapid antigen test procurement sites spread throughout the city, it’s safe to say that there was much preparation to ensure the welcome for the global community was as smooth as possible. The effort put forth allowed attendees to focus on the power of coming together to discuss and make climate commitments.
If you are unfamiliar with COP26, it is a United Nationals Climate Change conference that brings parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is organized into three core areas: the Blue Zone, the Green Zone, and then side events, such as the New York Times Climate Hub (NYT Hub). The Blue Zone is dedicated for delegates and select leaders of the business world to provide space for the negotiations that led to the agreement on the Glasgow Pact. The Green Zone is open to the public, focusing on education and a plethora of side events that offered the opportunity to listen to world-renowned speakers and network with other attendees.
My Favorite Speaker
I was excited to be able to attend the Green Zone as well as several side events. Of the various presentations I attended, the one speaker that resonated with me the most, Vanessa Nakate, spoke on a panel at the NYT Hub. If you have never heard of Vanessa, she is well known as a climate activist from Uganda. She is the founder of the Rise up Climate Movement, which aims to amplify the voices of activists from Africa. During her presentation, Vanessa provided the following powerful statement on global temperature rise:
“It’s important for people to know that even at 1.2 degrees, it has been hell for so many communities in my country… the climate crisis has been ravaging vast parts of the African continent, many people have lost their farms, many people are losing their businesses, many people have lost their lives… this is what is happening at 1.2. The weather patterns are changing, they’re being disrupted… this is one of the disconnections that I have been talking about. We think that 1.5 is our salvation, and yet, still at 1.5, it won’t be safe for very many communities.” NYT, Full Recording of Session
To me, her comment brings light to a common misconception that I see frequently in the media – that limiting global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels is not a universal solution to climate change. The 1.5 degrees is a threshold defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that, if crossed, will bring “catastrophic and irreversible effects of climate change.” (Check out ClimeCo’s recent blog on the Key Takeaways from the most recent IPCC report).
Many of the world’s most vulnerable populations are already experiencing significant effects from the global temperature rise, which further emphasizes the urgency of the worldwide community to work together to reduce emissions and support those in need.
My Key Takeaways From The Pact
The Glasgow Climate Pact (Pact) was underscored by a commitment by all parties to the 1.5-degree target. With that, there is an urgent need to drastically scale up funding for developing countries to assist with the costs associated with mitigation and adaptation for climate change. Additionally, for the first time, there was an explicit reference for the need to phase out fossil fuel usage, though the requirement for coal was downgraded from a “phase-out” to a “phase-down” at the last minute due to pressures from China and India.
Another notable outcome from the Pact was the announcement of the intention to form a stand-alone organization to provide financial support and technical advice to developing countries seeking to mitigate loss and damages from climate change. Despite some of the successes of COP26, participant countries were unable to deliver on the $100 billion climate finance target set in the year leading up to COP26. In response, members of the Pact committed to reaching the $100 billion target and to match the amount annually up until 2025.1 Alongside the commitments was the agreement on the rules of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.
Article 6 Overview
A significant achievement of the Glasgow Pact was the approval of the rules for implementing Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement. Article 6 was ratified in 2016 along with the rest of the Paris Agreement; however, agreeing on the rules for implementation proved to be a challenging exercise. The main components of the Article are briefly highlighted below:
- Article 6.2: establishes an accounting framework for country-level cooperation. The purpose of this article is for linking the emissions-trading schemes of two or more countries (but not for business-level transactions). This “treaty” framework will also allow the international transfer of Internationally Traded Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs).
- Article 6.4: establishes a United Nations-centralized mechanism to trade emission reduction credits (referred to as “A6.4ERs”) generated through projects that will contribute to reducing emissions in developing countries. This mechanism would issue A6.4ERs to developers of clean energy projects, where the developers can either be foreign countries or private entities.
- Article 6.8: is meant to guide the implementation of the framework for non-market approaches in implementing parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Article 6.8 is not instrumental in the implementation of an emission trading system. Examples include, but are not limited to, the application of taxes or other relevant initiatives to discourage emissions.
It is no easy feat to bring over 200 delegates together from around the world in a time where COVID-19 is ever-present, let alone to get all delegates to agree on a plan to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Though there may be criticisms from both sides on the intricacies of the Pact, progress has been made on one of the biggest challenges we have ever faced as a global community. As I reflect on my visit to COP26, I am left with these two thoughts:
- No action is too small; everything starts with the individual. Every action you can take to reduce your emissions and waste footprint helps. I encourage you to look into actions you can take to reduce your daily footprint, such as reviewing your city’s waste, organics and recycling rules.
- Climate change is here and is already affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations. We must continue to encourage our leaders to drive emissions reductions from both inside and outside their borders.
It will be interesting to see what the delegates of our world will do to meet the commitments they made at COP26. At ClimeCo, we strive to continually work with our partners to reduce emissions and go beyond business-as-usual. I am looking forward to helping our partners navigate the multiple paths available to them to reach their goals/commitments.
Watch #TeamClimeCo at COP26 on our Instagram.
About the Author
Zach Harmer is the Strategic Policy and Markets Manager at ClimeCo Canada, based in the Calgary office. At ClimeCo, Zach leads the tracking and analyses of regulatory and market updates in California and Canada’s carbon programs. Zach earned his Master of Public Policy from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta in Political Science and French Language and Literature.