The first ever international agreement to reduce coal use was struck on the final day of COP26, with countries also reiterating their intention to deliver the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C target, and to provide more financial support for developing nations.
The Glasgow Climate Pact requests that world leaders meet again to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by the end of 2022, which is three years earlier than previously intended.
Countries will also have to report their progress cutting emissions every two years under new transparency rules. Moreover, developed countries have pledged to double the amount they spend on helping poorer countries adapt to climate impacts by 2025, compared to 2019 levels.
However, the agreement failed to deliver a financial assistance programme to help poorer countries deal with the “loss and damage” caused by the climate crisis. This comes after the promise from wealthy nations to provide $100bn per year by 2020 was not met.
The language concerning the shift away from coal use was weakened at the last minute after India called for “phasing down” to replace “phasing out”.
“They changed a word, but they can’t change the signal coming out of this COP, that the era of coal is ending,” said Greenpeace international executive director, Jennifer Morgan.
“Glasgow was meant to deliver on firmly closing the gap to 1.5°C and that didn’t happen, but in 2022, nations will now have to come back with stronger targets.”
The agreement – although not legally binding – will set the global agenda on climate change for the next 10 years.
Despite progress in some areas, Sir David King, the UK's former chief scientific advisor, and chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, said that there was no real understanding in the agreement of the extreme nature of the crisis.
“The threat to all of us from the loss of polar summer sea ice over the Arctic Ocean is a clear signal of the disaster, from rising sea level, severe extreme weather events and high temperatures; but it was not addressed in any way.
“The follow-up meeting of the UNFCCC will be held this time next year in Egypt.
“We now have to look to that meeting to set in place not only the rapid phase out of fossil fuels and deforestation, but also for the developed economies to take on the responsibility to fund the removal of excess greenhouse gases at scale from the atmosphere.”
Image credit: Karwai Tang/ UK Government