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Week 2 at COP26 5 takeaways

After an optimistic week 1 in Glasgow, the second week has been focused on negotiators agreeing and signing a draft climate deal. There are currently large debates over the inclusion of language which would commit nations to phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies with Russia, Saudi Arabia and others pushing for it to be removed.

Other key sticking points include the lack of financial help for vulnerable countries and committing countries to tougher emissions pledges to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Countries have also agreed to host summits more regularly (sooner than every 5 years) to enhance targets for cutting emissions, starting with COP27, hosted by Egypt in 2022.

Despite this, a document is still yet to be agreed and signed and if the same as the Paris agreement, signed in 2015, then targets and goals are not legally binding meaning there is no legal enforcement mechanism if they do not meet their targets. This week also saw an announcement that October 2021 was the third hottest month on record and that the fossil fuel industry had the largest delegation at COP26.

  1. USA and China agree to work together this decade

USA and China, the world’s two biggest CO2 emitters, have agreed to boost climate co-operation over the next decade. Limiting carbon emissions as soon as possible is key and enhancing climate action in the 2020s is a victory.

John Kerry, US Climate Envoy, stated that “co-operation is the only way to get this done” emphasising the need to ‘close the gap’ to achieve 1.5°C. Joe Biden (President of the USA) and Xi Jinping (President of China) are to begin a series of virtual meetings next week to discuss the matter.

However, China early last week did not join the pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, instead pledging to a ‘national plan’ to address methane emissions.

  1. Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) pledges

Car firms, along with 24 countries at COP26, have agreed to end the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040, including Canada, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK. The UK has already agreed to phase out new petrol and diesel car sales by 2030. Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Volvo are amongst car manufacturers who have agreed to reach the goal by 2035 in leading markets.

The agreement is also notable for the absences of key countries: USA, China and Germany, and carmaker heavyweights: BMW, Volkswagen, and Toyota.

Several emerging markets, Kenya, India, and Rwanda have agreed to accelerate their transition to ZEVs. 19 countries have also stated the intent to support the establishment of ‘green shipping corridors’ - zero emission shipping routes. The UK has also pledged to shift to clean trucks committing to end the sale of new diesel trucks between 2035 and 2040.

  1. A new Steel deal

Over 40 countries, including the USA, India, China, the UK have all backed the first international commitment to achieve a so-called ‘near-zero’ emission steel production by 2030.

The steel industry is one of the world’s largest CO2 emitters globally and it is also one of the trickiest industries to decarbonise as the alternatives to coal needed for its production are not yet widely available.

  1. Affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030

40 global leaders have backed the Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda presented at COP26 which includes a significant move to make hydrogen more affordable and available by 2030.

Hydrogen makes up one of the five pillars of the breakthrough agenda and countries set a new global goal aiming to make clean technology and sustainable solutions the ‘most affordable, accessible and attractive options’.

  1. Approximately 100,000 people marched in Glasgow to demand more action on the climate crisis

The climate protest in Glasgow on Saturday 6th November was the largest during the COP26 summit and ran alongside hundreds of similar marches across the world including Kenya, Turkey, Brazil and Canada.

Greta Thunberg joined the march but did not speak, leaving climate activists such as Ugandan Vanessa Nakate to address the rally.

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