Key takeaways from COP26

After two years of preparation, COP26 has come and gone following two weeks of strenuous negotiations between nations.

They have universally agreed that keeping global warming below 1.5C is the goal, however, the means of reaching it varies in importance from nation to nation. 

The Glasgow Climate Pact 

One of the biggest talking points came almost 24 hours after the summit was due to close as nations tried to come to a ‘final agreement’. In a last-minute objection to global negotiations, China and India called for a weakening of the language used regarding fossil fuels as well as calling on richer nations to support developing nations financially. 

The final text states that fossil fuels should be ‘phased down’ rather than ‘phased out’. The reason behind this is that both nations have not yet reached their peak emissions. Although the inclusion of fossil fuels is a first for any COP, it effectively waters down the pact as some leaders believe this is not enough to achieve Net Zero by 2050. 

Nations urged to set new climate targets in 2022 

All nations have been asked to formulate and publish updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement for 2030 before COP27 takes place in Egypt in 2022. Nations are encouraged to align their climate targets with a 1.5C temperature pathway. 

UK launches Urban Climate Action Programme 

The penultimate day was dedicated to Cities, Regions and the Built Environment, focusing on the way in which cities are contributing to the climate crisis. 

The built environment accounts for almost 40% of global carbon emissions and the UN estimates that the value chains of cities are attributable to 68% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The body also suggests that by 2050, 1.6 billion people living within cities will be exposed to extremely high temperatures regularly and over 800 million people will be vulnerable to coastal flooding as sea levels rise. 

By launching the Urban Climate Action Programme (UCAP), the UK Government will provide £27.5m to at least 15 cities in developing countries across a three-year period. Cities among those that will benefit include Lagos, Johannesburg, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City. 

UK Green Building Council plots sector’s net-zero pathway 

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) revealed its Whole Life Carbon Roadmap, which is a tool designed to help businesses across the sector to measure and cut carbon from materials, processes, operation and demolition. 

At present, around one-quarter of the built environment’s emissions are embodied rather than operational and the UKGBC have plotted a pathway to Net Zero by 2050 for the UK’s entire sector.

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