COP26: A success or a failure

COP26: A success or a failure

News item
16 Nov 2021

The world looked to Glasgow, hoping for decisive decisions and actions to combat climate change. Was the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, a success or a failure? Our colleague from FairClimateFund, a subsidiary of Cordaid, Linda Lap has taken stock and reported.

Back in the Netherlands from Glasgow, I took stock and realized the true importance of the outcomes of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). The conference is considered one of the most important diplomatic meetings in history. Our future is at stake.

The recent report released in August 2021 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides new estimates of more than 1.5°C in the coming decades. It states that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting global warming to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be unattainable.

Climate change affects us all, but people in developing countries are much more vulnerable to its effects. It is incredibly unfair that they suffer more than we do in the West, while we are largely responsible for climate change. That is why Cordaid and its subsidiary FairClimateFund campaigned during COP26 for fair climate financing and a fair zero-carbon economy.

“No more time for ‘blah, blah, blah’. We need action now to prevent the worst and secure our future. And to achieve climate justice.”

Fair climate finance means that rich countries contribute financially to countries in the south most affected by climate change to support mitigation and climate adaptation. This funding needs to be made more easily available and more money also needs to be spent on climate change adaptation, loss and damage programs, which address the destruction already happening in developing countries from the climate crisis.

Rich countries refuse drastic measures
However, so far rich countries have not delivered on their pledge to provide $100 billion a year to countries in the South to help them meet their climate goals and cope with the negative impacts of climate change. Also, the call for rich countries to redouble their efforts at the start of COP26 has not been granted. It goes without saying that many developing countries are very disappointed. Greta Thunberg went so far as to say that COP26 was a failure.

November 5, 2021, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, Greta Thunberg in protest, Fridays for Future mobilized tens of thousands of people from all walks of life in a climate strike in Glasgow on November 5 – Youth and Public Empowerment Day at COP26. © Albin Hillert

“The COP has turned into a PR event, where leaders make big speeches and announce big pledges and goals, while behind the scenes governments of the Global North countries still refuse to take drastic climate action,” Thunberg said.

Now that we have concluded that the commitments made at COP26 are not enough, another big question is whether the commitments made are leading to action? For example, European Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans said that developed countries must scale up international climate finance. That is why the European Commission has committed an additional €100 million from the EU budget to the Adaptation Fund to support developing countries. Let’s hope they put their money where their mouth is. And that others will follow.

Glasgow, November 11. COP26 FairClimateFund side event ‘A Fair Race to Net-Zero’. From left to right Marcel Spaas | FairClimateFund, Heleen de Coninck | professor of Eindhoven University of Technology, Jeannette Gurung | WOCAN and Juan Pablo Solis | Fair Trade International

A Fair Race to Net-Zero
FairClimateFund also campaigned for a ‘Fair Race to Net-Zero’. We spoke about this topic during events in the German and Colombian Pavilion and during a side event in the so-called Blue Zone of COP26. The Blue Zone is where the most important negotiations between world leaders take place. A ‘Fair Race to Net-Zero’ aims to ensure that a transition to a net-zero carbon economy is fair, inclusive and gender-sensitive and that people in the most vulnerable regions are not overlooked.

Carbon markets are essential to obtain the necessary carbon financing from the private sector to support mitigation and adaptation activities in countries in the Global South.

However, the people at the base of the value chain benefit the least. CO2 financing often does not reach small farmers or low-income households at the bottom of the pyramid, while they are vital for CO2 reduction.

The pressure from large companies to provide low-priced carbon credits results in a limited share of carbon revenues for those with the least bargaining power. Since the Paris Agreement, two initiatives have emerged that have led to greater fairness and inclusivity in the voluntary Carbon Market. One is the Fairtrade Climate Standard and the other is the W+ Standard which focuses on women’s empowerment and channels funds directly to women.

No more time for blah, blah, blah
When I think back to COP26, I feel the same disappointment as Greta and so many others. But there were a few successes. First of all, the campaign for fair climate finance and a fair carbon-free economy received a lot of attention during COP26, which is good. However, there is still much to be gained, so we will continue our efforts to keep the conversation going at home and abroad.

There were also some successes at COP26 with pledges to halt deforestation and reduce methane emissions. The pledge to phase out coal and fossil fuels was a modest step in the right direction. Of course, we would have hoped that leaders of rich – and polluting – countries would have made a bolder decision to phase out coal altogether.

Now the point lies in the follow-up and implementation. Something we, and the rest of the world, will keep a close eye on. No more time for ‘blah, blah, blah’. We need action now to prevent the worst and secure our future. And to achieve climate justice.

Linda Lap, Marketing & Communications Manager FairClimateFund