“Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed during his speech. 

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, was held in Glasgow, Scotland, and addressed the actions that must be taken to combat climate change.

Over the course of a few weeks, the cooperation of 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had worked together to set the summit’s goals and commit to these goals.

Emphasizing on adaptation, the parties launched a work program to help clarify the global goal corresponding to the world’s adaptation to climate change which will identify the collective actions that will be required to manage the climate crisis. The CMA also approved communication mediums for information to the Global Stocktake, which will take place every five years beginning in 2023.

Additionally, finance—which was heavily discussed throughout the discourse—was a salient idea alongside the agreement to increase aid to developing countries. Not only was the duty to fulfill developed countries’ pledge to allot 100 billion dollars to developing countries reasserted, but another goal was established: finding the new global goal in finance.

The parties involved had collectively agreed to collaborate in reducing carbon emissions in order to increase the likelihood of limiting the average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as pledged in the Paris Agreement.

“So, let me be blunt,” said Barack Obama, “keeping the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius will not be easy.” The former US President emphasized the difficulty in achieving this goal. He alluded to the fact that obtaining global collaboration will take time, which he described as “time we don’t have.”

Finally, one of the most important factors in combating climate change is the ‘Paris Rulebook.’ Its goal is to make the Paris Agreement fully operational, and will thus provide the necessary principles in relation to Article 6 on carbon markets. This contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the Glasgow Climate Pact urged countries to reduce their use of coal and fossil fuels. However, the conferences agreed that the use of these types of energy sources should not be completely eliminated. These forms of supply were ‘phased down,’ not ‘phased out.’

Other agreements and pledges included the U.S.-China Agreement, in which both countries agreed to increase or expand their cooperation in preventing and combating climate change; the Zero Emission Vehicles, in which over thirty countries pledged that the all new vehicles sold by 2040 would be zero-emission; and the Firms’ Net-Zero Pledges, wherein multiple companies that collectively manage $130 trillion committed to applying their funds to successfully achieve net-zero emissions; and India’s Net-Zero Pledge, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that India (one of the largest emitters) will strive for net-zero emissions by 2070.

“If working apart we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet, surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it,” said Sir David Attenborough, the renowned broadcaster and presenter for the BBC Natural History Unit. “In my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a terrible decline. In yours, you could and should witness a wonderful recovery.”

Now that they have the necessary knowledge to deal with the disaster, the UNFCCC’s parties are focusing their efforts on the possibility of defeating climate change.

“The most important energy in this movement is coming from young people,” Barack Obama stated. “And the reason is simple. They have more at stake in this than anybody else.” The former US President explained why the youth must also contribute to victory.

To quote António Guterres at the closing of the UN Climate Change Conference, “Never give up, never retreat. Keep pushing forward. COP27 starts now.” James Maninang // image from Global Methane Initiative

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