COP26: Turning Paris into reality

Nearly 200 countries met in Glasgow from October 31 to thrash out plans to tackle the climate crisis. The summit, already delayed by a year due to the COVID pandemic, marks a crucial moment: Little time is left in the critical battle to halt the climate crisis. Whether life-threatening heat waves, disastrous floods and storms, droughts or climate-induced illnesses – the impacts of climate change threaten the health and livelihoods of current and future generations across the globe. They also come at a horrendous cost: Global GDP is projected to fall by up to a quarter if emissions are not cut fast.

The first part of the 6th IPCC report, published this summer, signalled Code Red to countries worldwide. Yet, tackling climate change is not just about averting a catastrophic change to humans’ living conditions. The transition from a fossil-fuel-based economy to one devoid of greenhouse gas pollution also carries a vast promise: A net-zero future is about security, about health, about secure livelihoods and new economic opportunities, about intergenerational justice, and fairer international relations. All this is at risk from climate change, and all this can be gained by decisive climate action. At COP26, political leaders have shown they have much to lose – and much to win.

What COP26 needs to achieve

COP26 is the most critical summit since the Paris Agreement in 2015. The challenge is steep: Greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise yet they must be halved by 2030 to halt the climate crisis. Glasgow, therefore, must mark a turning point. This requires leaders to wake up, recognise the threat, and agree on solutions in a spirit of multilateralism and mutual interest. Significant progress has to be achieved on three tracks:

  • Ensuring more, immediate and faster climate action: Governments have been asked to deliver their national climate plans before COP26, but emission reductions are still too slow. COP26 needs a decision from all governments to commit to more reductions and to implement these sooner and faster.
  • Keeping the $100bn promise to developing countries: Developing countries are hit hardest by the climate crisis yet they have least caused it. Rich nations, therefore, need to deliver on their Paris promise of $100 billion of annual support to developing countries and they need to agree on a plan how to raise this sum also after 2025. Supporting developing countries in adapting to climate change is central to the climate fight.
  • Closing loopholes: Claiming offsets and greenhouse gas emission reporting has allowed for too many loopholes in the past. Governments at COP26 must work out how to end these to ensure greater accountability and the transition away from an emissions-based economy to one based on renewable energy. This requires more national green deals ending coal, oil and gas, as well as phasing out petrol and diesel cars in 2030, defunding deforestation and also radically cutting methane emissions.

Laurence Tubiana launches the Coal Asset Transition Accelerator at COP26

On the 4th of November at COP 26, ECF CEO Laurence Tubiana launched the Coal Asset Transition Accelerator (CATA). CATA provides a unique platform to empower governments, utilities, companies, financiers, and civil society organisations with the latest resources and best practices to implement and scale Coal Transition Mechanisms (CTMs) globally with a focus on social justice.

Funded by several philanthropies, including the IKEA Foundation and the Growald Climate Fund, CATA has been incubated by the European Climate Foundation as a pathfinder for cutting edge policy to serve the wider climate community. CATA will initially be working in geographies and states that are already deeply engaged in discussing the energy transition, such as South Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as others that are considering future options.

cop26The initiative is currently in its inception phase and will be formally launched in spring 2022. CATA’s initial set of partners worldwide include Climate Smart Ventures (Singapore), the Carbon Trust (UK), RMI (formerly Rocky Mountain Institute) (US) and the International Network of Energy Transition Think Tanks, which represents 20 local think tanks from across the world. CATA seeks to advance the dialogue on the global coal transition, and it welcomes additional partners to continue its globally balanced and collaborative approach. Partner countries are to include economies already in transition away from coal as well as coal-dependent countries from around the world.

This initiative will provide cutting-edge analysis and expertise as well as a Technical Assistance fund to provide advice to those wishing to pursue Coal Transition Mechanisms (CTM). CATA will work collaboratively with existing dialogues such as those initiated by the COP 26 Energy Transition Council and Powering Past Coal Alliance. Furthermore, CATA aims to be a knowledge centre for those leading countries and financial organisations which have contributed towards developing and facilitating CTMs, such as the World Bank Climate Investment Funds Accelerating Coal Transition Investment Program (CIF ACT) and the Asian Development Bank Energy Transition Mechanism.

Read the full press release here, and find more information on the initiative via the info pack slides here.