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Reform Magazine | December 1, 2023

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Now what?

Now what?

COP26’s success or failure will depend on what happens next, says Andy Atkins, in the last of his series of articles

Where do we go from here? Will progressive governments and civil society be able to use the opportunities of the Glasgow Climate Pact to accelerate climate action in the year ahead? Or will the blockers prevail until all hope of keeping global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C is dead? What we – citizens and governments – do in the next 12 months will be decisive.

COP26 failed to deliver on its two most important objectives: achieving sufficient greenhouse gas reduction pledges to keep global temperature rise to 1.5C; and delivering on the past promise to provide $100b a year by 2020 to help developing countries go green and adapt to climate change.

However, a majority of countries refuse to give up on getting there. So, significantly, the Glasgow Climate Pact requests countries to update their inadequate pledges on emissions cuts to bring them in line with 1.5 degrees, and commits to considering the adequacy of the aggregated pledges at COP27 in Egypt, instead of waiting until 2025 as originally planned. It also promises a meeting of ministers in the year ahead to try to achieve the long-promised climate finance flows, while acknowledging that developing countries already need much more than the originally promised amount.

Incredibly, this was the first COP text to name fossil fuels, though they are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. Such has been the power of the fossil fuel lobby and producer countries. Now, they are spotlighted as the culprit and the text calls for the ‘phase down’ of coal (the most climate-damaging of all) and an end to ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies. This breaks a long taboo which will open the way for more discussion and action…

Andy Atkins is CEO of A Rocha UK and Chair of Climate Sunday Coalition, and was co-lead of the A Rocha worldwide family delegation to COP26

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This is an extract from an article published in the December 2021/January 2022 edition of Reform

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