Words by Megan Whitehead, Staff Writer

The 26th annual Conference for Parties on climate change was held at Scottish Events Campus in Glasgow. The two-week conference, spanning from the 31st of October to Friday the 12th of November, brings together 196 countries, heads of state, climate experts and campaigners for coordinated action on cutting emissions and keeping the world on track for cutting emissions and keeping below 1.5C of warming.  

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) published the main goals for this year’s COP. The first is securing a global net zero by 2050 and keeping in line with 1.5C by phasing out coal, reducing deforestation and investing in renewables. The second is to protect communities and natural habitats by protecting ecosystems and building defences and warning systems for vulnerable communities. The third goal is to mobilise at least $100 billion for climate finance – a promise made at Paris COP15. The final goal for this conference is to accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.  

In the first two days, world leaders had their say on the climate crisis and laid out plans for accelerating decarbonisation. Several leaders signed the ‘Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forest and Land Use’ to end deforestation, in particular Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro who has famously lacked interest in conserving the Amazon.

The ‘Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda’ is a commitment to join forces and accelerate development in sustainable technologies such as clean energy and electric vehicles, which large emitters such as UK, China, the USA, and India signed. 28 countries also joined the ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’, a group dedicated to phasing out coal.  A ‘Global Methane Pledge’ also was headed by Biden to cut global methane emissions by 30% by the year 2030 and was signed by over 100 countries. 

Over 20 countries and institutions, such as Denmark and the European Investment Bank, committed to spending $8 billion a year on green energy. But Bolivia’s chief negotiator Diego Pacheo Balanza said that there has been a systematic attempt by developed countries to remove the discussion about climate finance from negotiations.  

Staying within the 1.5C framework would require carbon emissions to fall by 45% this decade and October 2021 being the third warmest in recorded history is not promising, but the fossil fuel industry having the largest delegation at the conference is. The UK announced its drafted ‘Sustainability and Climate Change’ strategy to consider youth priorities in COP and help provide young people with the skills needed to drive climate action.  

The event still has a long way to go, so hopes are on a more effective outcome than the forgotten promises of Paris 2015.  

Accurate at time of writing (09/11/2021).

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