The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, is the international community’s guiding treaty for international climate action. The signatories to the treaty meet every year in an event known as the Conference of the Parties, or COP. The 26th meeting was originally to be held in November 2020. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, COP26 was postponed by a year, and was held November 2021 in Glasgow, UK.
COP26 was a landmark moment for climate in 2021, and we saw more media and civil society attention on the COP process than ever before. We made vital progress on finalising the Paris Agreement rulebook, on strengthening the commitment to limit global heating to 1.5C as well as on introducing new commitments, funding pledges and international initiatives. However, recognising the scale of the climate emergency we are facing, as well as the justified calls for urgent action by youth, indigenous peoples and frontline communities in particular, the outcomes of COP26 were by far not enough.
After most countries updated their 2030 emissions targets (Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs), the world is still heading towards a global heating of 2.5°C, spelling disaster for people and ecosystems around the world. If long term net zero targets were also fully implemented, this might keep us slightly below 2°C – but still worryingly far from 1,5°C.
While we welcome the greater ambition from the EU and other European countries, current commitments still fall short of doing our fair share to limit global heating to 1.5°C. To bridge the gap, the EU must cut emissions by at least 65% by 2030 compared to 1990 and reach climate neutrality by 2040 at the latest.
In the lead up to COP27 in November of 2022, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, we will keep up the pressure. All countries must do their fair share to reduce emissions, with the largest and historic polluters and wealthier countries taking the lead. We will also fight to make sure international climate action is guided by climate justice and solidarity, with the most affected people and areas (MAPA) at the centre.
The climate crisis isn’t waiting for us, and it’s more important than ever that we double down on our commitments, roll up our sleeves, and get to work as a global community.