COP26: Turning Paris into reality

The Climate Summit in Glasgow ended with two coexisting tales: one of hope, and one of grief and disappointment. Achieved in a difficult geopolitical context, the negotiated outcomes of COP were mixed: while falling short of new immediate action in many areas, they outline a forward process for accelerating ambition on mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage and finance.

  • Countries finalised the rules that will be needed to implement the Paris Agreement on pending issues such as regulating carbon markets, a common 5-year timeframe for NDCs, and transparency regimes. Delegates also found unexpected common ground: through unprecedented language on fossil fuels, and pledges on coal, deforestation and methane (including a joint statement by the US and China on the latter).
  • COP26 kept a lifeline for achieving 1.5°C with a clear call to accelerate action and revisit and strengthen their targets as early as 2022 to align with this objective. Neither these nor the many sectorial new commitments made at COP26 itself were a given.

As negotiations went on inside the COP venue, people of all ages took to the streets in Glasgow and globally to call for urgent action and climate justice. They called COP26 a “failure”, a “global north greenwashing exercise”, and asked leaders to “prove them wrong”. They highlighted the need for much clearer accountability. Transparency and tracking mechanisms will indeed be needed – for sectoral commitments that are not yet clearly linked into the UNFCCC reporting system, for non-state actor commitments, and to ensure that country promises actually move the needle towards achieving the 1.5°C target.

Some new pledges were made on finance but they are far from meeting the growing needs of developing countries. Much more progress will be needed to rebuild trust between developed and developing countries. Action on adaptation included doubling global adaptation finance by 2025, but decisions to tackle loss and damage were limited to outlining a process, leaving developing countries determined to ensure this will lead to a financial facility in the future.

The ECF at COP26

The ECF and key partners were on the ground in Glasgow, convening allies, shaping conversations and advocating for ambition and integrity. The Foundation’s long-term work on global ambition and multilateral climate processes lends us a unique vantage point on COP26.

  • As a key architect of the Paris Agreement, a Friend of COP26 and an advisor to the UK COP presidency, Laurence Tubiana held conversations and convenings at the highest levels to understand and convey expectations for an ambitious ‘Glasgow Package’.
  • In the lead-up to COP26, the International Programme amplified key asks (and specific suggestions) for an ambitious ‘Glasgow Package’ that would meet the urgency set out by recent IPCC and other reports.
  • The International Programme coordinated its high-trust network for key interventions and served as a cooperation and intelligence hub for civil society including organizations unable to attend the COP in person; with key information on the state of negotiations and suggested priorities shared through daily email updates.
  • The ECF’s International Energy Transition team launched during Energy Day on November 5, 2021, the Coal Asset Transition Accelerator (CATA), 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. More details further below.
  • During COP26, the ECF participated in the rich programme of events and engaged with partners to further discuss climate philanthropy’s role in the future ahead, fostering a greater role for philanthropic actors to promote and support climate action

Next steps

Two parallel tales unfolded in Glasgow: one of commitment to accelerate action in response to the urgency, and one of failure to get close to what science tells us is required for a safe earth, or to support each other and those facing destruction from climate harm. Their coexistence reveals the paradoxical times we are in.

How leaders deliver on promises made, both in their headline targets and through sectoral commitments, for example, with real, short-term and credible accelerated actions will be the ultimate test for COP26; with COP27 in Egypt as a major moment at the end of 2022 to assess this progress.

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.