COP26: What are the Key Takeaways & Why are they Relevant?

Shravane Balabasqer
November 23, 2021

COP26: What are the Key Takeaways & Why are they Relevant?

Every year, the world is losing 10% of its sea ice. As a result, the melting of sea ice is raising the air and ocean temperature on a global scale. Furthermore, the loss of sea ice directly correlates to the loss of hunting grounds for both polar bears and walruses. As it stands, the world has already lost 95% of the oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic

And so, addressing climate change is a global endeavor—one that involves all of us.

No single country is solely responsible for the increasing temperatures across the globe. In fact, several key members of the UN are some of the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gasses. According to a 2018 study, the United States, Russia, and China are the top three sources of greenhouse gas emissions. This means there is a need for international collaboration in addressing climate change. 

CarbonAnalytics  A chart of the biggest greenhouse gas emitting countries

To combat the melting sea ice and the other effects of climate change, the United Nations established the Conference of Parties or COP. Just recently, COP26 happened this month in Glasgow,  Scotland and saw the attendance of over 100+ world leaders. 

Today, we take a look at what was discussed during COP26, the key takeaways, and why it matters. 

Key Takeaways from COP26 

Since the first COP almost 30 years ago, countries have come together to establish a coordinated plan to fight the effects of climate change. This year, COP26, was crucial—especially since last year’s conference was postponed due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. 

Here are some of the important key points discussed during COP26. 

Immediate Action is Needed 

During COP26, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that the plan to limit rising global temperatures to 1.5 degrees celsius “is on life support.” This 1.5 degree target that was set by the UN during COP21, but it seems to be unlikely given global trends.

But why is this number so important?

According to a scientific report, increasing the global temperature by 1.5C would be an achievable goal for the world. However, even if the rising temperatures are limited to 1.5C, it will still be accompanied by several side effects. 

Just a 1.5C rise in temperature will lead to an increased frequency of heatwaves, rising sea levels, and the loss of 70-90% of the world’s coral reefs. This is why this limit is vital. If temperatures rise beyond 1.5C the effects, then it could be fatal for species across the globe and humankind.

Unfortunately, based on current projections, this 1.5C goal is no longer unattainable. If we don’t limit our carbon emissions, temperatures are predicted to increase by 2.4 degrees Celsius.

This is why the UN Secretary-General is calling for immediate action. While measures have been taken to reduce emissions and combat climate change, it is still inadequate. If nothing changes and countries fail to adapt, then life as we know it is—quite literally—on thin ice.

China and the US Enter a Bilateral Agreement to Redouble Efforts

Earlier during the conference, tensions were already on edge. China refused to sign an agreement to limit its methane emissions. Despite this, the United States and China have come together in a bilateral agreement to adjust their climate change goals. 

CarbonAnalytics: A table that shows the top C02 emitting countries 

Both the United States and China are counted as two of the top carbon gas emitting countries. And so, seeing them come together to draft a new and stronger target to limit their emissions by 2025 does give us a ray of hope. 

This agreement bodes well for the goal of COP26. Not only are these two countries responsible for a majority of the world’s carbon emissions, but an agreement between the two economic rivals is a good stepping stone.

Ending Deforestation by 2030

During the COP26, more than 100 countries including the US, China, Russia, and Brazil agreed to end deforestation by 2030. 

Not surprisingly, Deforestation is a major contributor to global warming. When forests are cut and burnt, it releases stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This amounts to about 4.8 billion tons of C02 released annually, which is roughly 8-10% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Not to mention, trees are also important figures in the carbon cycle. They naturally consume the CO2 in the air and help keep our world in balance. With fewer trees on Earth, the carbon cycle is hampered. 

The current agreement is projected to protect around 85% of the world’s forests. By eliminating deforestation, the rate of climate change can be significantly stalled. 

Countries Aiming for Net-Zero Goals

Net-zero emission is a goal that seeks to balance the greenhouse gas emissions that a country produces against the greenhouse gases taken out of the atmosphere.  

India is one of the world’s leading consumers of fossil fuels. So, to address climate change, the country has committed to eliminating the use of coal and other fossil fuels by 2070. Moreover, India is working to increase its adoption of renewable energy. The country has promised to have at least half of its energy come from renewable sources by 2030. 

Additionally, a group called Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance or BOGA was formed during COP26. There are currently eight core members: Denmark, Costa Rica, Sweden, France, Quebec, Greenland, Ireland, and Wales. California, New Zealand, and Portugal have also signed up to be associate members, while Italy established a relationship as a “Friend of BOGA.” The goal of BOGA is to elevate the discussion of phasing out the production of fossil fuels to an international scale. 

Call for Funding from the Wealthier Nations 

Wealthy nations, like the United States, Japan, Canada, and many in Western Europe, amount to less than 12% of the world’s population. Despite that, these countries are responsible for around 50% of the world’s carbon emissions. 

To address this, the COP called for wealthy nations to compensate the poorer countries due to the pollution they’ve been the ones to cause. World leaders were also called to provide aid for poor nations to adopt sustainable technology. 

While no concrete terms have been established, further discussions were made during COP26.

Everyone Matters at COP26

The United Nations is making strides to fight climate change on a global scale. But you can do your part in stemming the tide of climate change. Adopting sustainable practices like recycling, saving energy and water, and sustainable procurement can decrease your carbon footprint. Every little thing helps when trying to combat climate change. 

While individuals have some responsibility, companies need to do their part as well. To do that, brands can start using sustainable sourcing, packaging, and tracking their carbon footprint. Don’t know where to start? Well, we’ve got some tips. 

Decision on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement 

During COP26, the UN has finally agreed on the terms outlined by Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. But what is Article 6 exactly? 

Article 6 essentially outlines the creation of a global carbon market. It enables members who have met their emission targets—known as nationally determined contributions or NDCs, to sell their excess reductions as “carbon credits”. Carbon credits can come from sources such as emission cuts,  transitions to renewable energy, or forest expansion. These credits can be purchased by countries that have fallen short of reaching their reduced emission goals. 

Another mechanism provided by Article 6 is for “non-market approaches” in the trade of excess carbon reductions. This essentially boils down to a country that meets its NDCs can provide aid to another that fails to meet its goals. 

But what was the consensus on Article 6? 

Firstly, parties have agreed to the carryover of their NDCs from the Kyoto Agreement. This means that countries that have met their original emission reduction goals set during the Kyoto Agreement in 2013 will be able to carry over excess carbon reduction from this original target. 

Secondly, the UN decided on how the “share of proceeds” would work in regards to trading excess reductions. The “share of proceeds” means that a state that can trade its excess reductions would use a portion of the proceeds to assist other countries with meeting their NDCs. It was agreed that the “share of proceeds” would be entirely voluntary, but parties are “strongly encouraged” to contribute to the Adaptation Fund. 

Finally, a consensus was reached on how “double counting” of credits would be handled. Double counting can happen when a member whose NDC is calculated after a number of years trades with a country whose NDC is counted annually. The decision was that “double counting” would be prohibited. Countries must come to an agreement when trading with differently counted NDCs.

With Article 6 of the Paris Agreement now in place, we can see a marked decrease in emissions across the globe!       

Start Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

As a company, you also need to do your part in the fight against climate change. One way is to begin tracking your carbon footprint. Once you know your own effect on the planet, you can start to find ways to mitigate it. 

However, this is easier said than done. How can you know that you’re reducing your carbon footprint without prior knowledge? 

That’s where Carbon Analytics comes in. We specialize in assessing our customer’s sustainability. We automatically collect data on emissions at an asset level. Then, our proprietary analyses allow us to determine net greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions for each plant or site in real-time! This allows companies who want granular decisions about how they can best spend their resources when making environmental improvements.

If we all work together to address climate change, others will follow your example. We at CarbonAnalytics can help your company reduce its carbon footprint. Together, we work to help your company adopt sustainable practices that can be used to combat climate change and follow through on your company mission and values. 

Book a demo with us so you can reduce your carbon footprint and start making a difference.       

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