The COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, delayed from November 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finally took place between 31 October 2021 to 12 November 2021.
The landmark conference was a chance for world leaders to outline commitments and actions to slow and prevent climate change. However, First-World nations failed to generate the $100bn of annual funding promised to vulnerable nations which was also a major talking point.
The overall goal of the conference was to put measures in place to prevent temperatures across the globe rising by more than 1.5C over the next two decades. The conference has dominated headlines and attracted the highest number of delegates attending in the conference’s history.
Guidelines outlined in the Paris Agreement were discussed to bring the international treaty up-to-date in terms of carbon markets, regulations and data reporting regarding the climate.
In this article we summarise some of the key points from COP26.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
It was agreed that nations will meet again next year to discuss fresh pledges to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It is hoped that reducing emissions by a significant amount will keep the rise in temperatures below the 1.5C threshold, avoiding a “climate catastrophe’.
The US and China, the two biggest creators of carbon emissions, also agreed to increase their cooperation over the next ten years and invest more in clean energy projects.
Coal was a major talking point in this year’s conference, detailing a comprehensive plan to reduce its usage, as the fuel contributes 40% of annual CO2 emissions. However, due to the high reliance on coal for many countries (including China and India), a full phase out of the fossil fuel was not agreed. Instead, just a gradual phase down was confirmed which is unlikely to be sufficient for global climate targets.
A scheme was also announced which would see 30% of methane emissions reduced by 2030 across 100 countries. Methane accounts for around a third of human-related global warming. China, Russia and India have yet to join this specific pledge, but it is hoped these nations will commit at a later date.
Removing Fossil Fuel Subsidies
No official dates were set for the removal of subsidies which help to reduce the cost of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gases.
Assistance for Developing Nations
The pledge to donate $100bn (£72bn) a year by 2020 to developing nations was not delivered. The funding would have been used to help eligible nations tackle climate change and make major investments in clean, renewable energy.
In an attempt to rectify this, the new target is for richer nations to pledge $1trn a year from 2025, although leaders from African and Latin nations were still concerned about the lack of progress.
World leaders from over 100 countries, containing around 85% of the world’s forests have pledged to stop deforestation completely by 2030. This would help to save a significant number of trees which can absorb huge amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere.
This scheme will receive much more funding than similar efforts in the past, although there are some doubts about how the pledge will be regulated.
Awareness and Education
A new curriculum in UK schools will be launched by 2023 to deliver world-leading climate change education from a scientific viewpoint, teaching children about the environment and how the world is changing.
In addition, a plan to encourage biodiversity across schools, colleges, universities and nurseries will also be implemented. Dubbed the National Education Nature Park, each plot of land will be considered as part of one overall ‘park’ and students will be able to upload their plot’s progress into a digital mapping service, enabling biodiversity mapping, data collection and analysis.
Children and young people will also be recognised for participating in local biodiversity and sustainability projects with the new Climate Leaders Award.
Net-Zero Schools were also a key talking point during COP26 as the government reaffirmed its commitment to rebuild cleaner and greener schools to achieve Net-Zero operations.
Energy Pods are new devices which could replace gas and coal boilers in schools, providing buildings with all their heating and hot water needs without creating any carbon emissions. This low-to-zero carbon technology will work alongside solar panels and other renewable energy installations, with a pilot scheme planned which will see the Pods tested in some schools and colleges before a wider rollout.
For a greater insight into the UK’s Net-Zero targets, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Net-Zero Emissions 2050. If you would like to improve the sustainability and energy efficiency of your organisations buildings then feel free to get in touch with Zenergi by calling us on 023 8028 6300 or filling out the contact form here.