COP26 – Can renewed political will result in concrete actions?

The United Nations climate summit, COP26, represents an opportunity to agree to overdue global action. The summit this November will bring together stakeholders from government, industry, and civil society to accelerate actions towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The EU is leading the global climate agenda through ambitious policies at home and close cooperation with international partners. In line with the Paris Agreement, the EU submitted a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC secretariat in December, committing to a reduction of at least 55% net of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. This objective sets the EU on a pathway towards climate neutrality in 2050. Embracing this challenge and the related policy framework can lead to opportunities to build a robust and sustainable EU economy.

To achieve this however, actions are required across all sectors of the economy. Several pieces of legislation will undergo a revision process after the launching of the “Fit for 55” package by the European Commission: the EU Emissions Trading System, the Renewable Energy Directive as well as the carbon border adjustment mechanism. Additionally, multi-stakeholder collaborative platforms, such as the EU Climate Pact, can help move climate action forward, ensuring no one is left behind.

Ahead of COP26, several priority action areas were outlined: agreeing a steep change in commitments to emissions reduction, strengthening adaptation to climate change impacts, getting finance flowing for climate action, enhancing international collaboration on energy transition, clean road transport, and nature.

Meanwhile, April’s Leaders Summit on Climate, organised by the Biden Administration, was seen as a turning point in the role of the US in the global climate agenda, backed by the announcement of a reviewed US Climate Plan (NDC), with an ambitious greenhouse gas emissions target, and a political commitment to streamline global efforts to address the climate crisis and curb carbon emissions. Furthermore, the conclusions of June’s G7 Summit, which formalised several commitments, such as an undertaking by all members to set net-zero targets in the 2030s, gave renewed impetus to global climate efforts. Importantly, the pledge of G7 nations to “submitting long-term strategies that set out concrete pathways to net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 as soon as possible, making utmost efforts to do so by COP26,” according to the Summit’s communique, has increased expectations ahead of November’s event. However, challenges remain: the G20 Environment Ministers’ Meeting in July failed to reach a “unanimous consensus” on setting a date for coal phase-out. Further efforts will be made for a deal to be struck at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in late October.

Rewatch this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to find out what partnerships, commitments and innovative solutions are needed to achieve emissions cuts globally. And knowing that the climate emergency must be tackled collectively on a global level, can governments capitalise on the current political momentum to achieve real progress at COP26?


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