Expectations were high for climate breakthroughs at the G7 summit held last month, but it ended far short of where it needed to be with countries falling well behind on delivery of promises made on financial solutions to climate challenges. This lack of details and a lackluster end to the virtual UNFCCC negotiations (with particularly messy talks continuing to hinder the rapid build-up in carbon removal markets we so desperately need) are creating some strong headwinds for the Glasgow COP26. This, plus continued uncertainty about global vaccinations, are behind the rumors of its delay into 2022. 

The 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26) is supposed to take place in November, in Glasgow, at a very critical moment for the Paris Agreement on climate. Limiting the Earth's warming to 1.5⁰C means halving global emissions by 2030, which forces the decarbonization process to be greatly accelerated around the world.

If climate action were limited to current policies, this would result in global warming of at least 2,9⁰C, incompatible with the Paris Agreement and the necessary level of protection for the biosphere and life on Earth. 

To be a successful event, COP26 should aim for the following 10 results:

1. Energy sector
Based on the overarching goal of global carbon neutrality by 2050, assume the ambition of more than 80% of the energy mix coming from renewable sources by 2040.

2. Nature
Aligning agendas and recognizing that climate change mitigation cannot be achieved without the effective promotion of nature-based solutions (namely, valuing natural carbon sinks such as forests and oceans), and restoration, conservation, and enhancement of nature.

3. Ecosystem Services
Adopt remuneration mechanisms that allow the valuation of the services that nature provides, generally unpaid, to ensure that their benefits, essential to the economy and to our lives (for instance, the regulation of climate and biological diversity) are assured in the future.

4. Nationally Determined Contributions
Increase the number of countries actively committed to reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, making their commitments legally binding. At the same time, guaranteeing the finalization of the Paris Agreement's Rule Book and, in the case of EU countries, guaranteeing that national policies follow the defined goals.

5. Subsidies and market mechanisms
Assign a carbon price, to force the internalization of its environmental impacts, and effectively eliminate unjustified or incompatible subsidies to fossil fuels. Define clear and robust rules for the functioning of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on carbon markets with global reach and balance between economic spaces, in order to avoid competitive distortions that lead to the export of emissions to less demanding geographies, or the circulation of products that do not meet the requirements.

6. Financing from developing countries
Fulfill the commitment, defined in the Paris Agreement, to support developing countries, worth US$100 billion per year, as a critical factor in protecting against climate impacts and accelerating global decarbonization.

7. Sustainable finance
Create market incentives that direct financing and investment towards low carbon solutions, namely sustainable finance solutions, seeking to ensure universal standards for measuring and reporting climate risk and impacts.

8. Research, development, and innovation (R&D&I)
Support the development of new technologies and changes in production methods, through collaboration between companies and academia, and the promotion of public-private partnerships in favor of carbon neutrality.

9. Fair transition
Create mechanisms for the qualification and requalification of people most affected by the transition, based on dialogue between workers, employers, governments, communities, and civil society, so that no one is left behind and ensures that the costs and benefits of climate action are distributed equitably.

10. Adaptation plans
Encourage countries to develop resilience strategies that address physical climate risks at key locations for global value chains and to local communities and populations.

We are at a decisive moment. It is crucial to take advantage of the lessons of the pandemic and other current disruptive phenomena to accelerate the necessary transition towards a global sustainable development model. We only have 10 years ahead – and that is why it’s so important that COP26 is a success, or we will face disastrous consequences for societies and economies.

Could this be the last chance to avoid an environmental disaster?

Have a great and impactful week!

João Wengorovius Meneses
Secretary-General BCSD Portugal

This article refers to edition #97 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter.
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