COP26 one year later: where are last year’s climate commitments?

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A year ago, at the UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, countries, banks and business leaders announced a slew of climate plans and commitments. Here’s an update on how some of the biggest promises have since progressed.

National emissions plans

Nearly 200 countries agreed at last year’s COP26 summit to improve their emission reduction pledges, called nationally determined contributions or NDCs, in time for COP27, but only two dozen countries have done so. so far. The world remains on track to exceed 2 degrees of warming above the pre-industrial average.

Those to be upgraded since COP26 include Indonesia and South Korea as well as Australia, which has pledged to cut emissions by 43% by 2030 from 2005 levels.

Brazil submitted a plan in March that actually allows higher emissions than under its 2016 pledge, although Sunday’s election victory for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva raises hopes for more ambitious action to fight against deforestation in the Amazon.

The 27 countries in the EU, the world’s third-largest polluter, plan to raise their target in 2023. China has resisted pressure to improve its commitment to peak emissions by 2030 – a target that falls short of significant emission reductions needed to avoid global warming disasters.

Deforestation

More than 100 countries pledged last year to end deforestation by 2030. Supporters included Brazil, Indonesia and Congo, which together contain more than 80% of the world’s remaining rainforests.

To achieve this goal, however, the area deforested would have to decrease by 10% each year compared to 2020 coverage. Instead, deforestation fell last year by just 6.3%, according to the platform. declaration that tracks progress towards the target.

Last year, deforestation in the Amazon reached its highest level since 2006, and preliminary government data suggests it has risen another 23% in the first nine months of 2022.

Indonesia has seen deforestation slow since 2016. But Congo, which promised to improve forest safeguards after COP26, instead announced plans to open up areas of virgin rainforest and carbon-rich peatlands to drilling. oil and gas.

Methane pledge

To date, 119 countries and blocs, including the United States and the European Union, have joined the COP26 commitment to reduce methane emissions by 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. But only 15 of them have offered concrete plans to do so, according to a report this month by the World Resources Institute.

Several countries are expected to provide methane strategies in time for the conference in Egypt. And China could also give an update on its plan to start monitoring methane emissions – a pledge made as part of the US-China deal announced in Glasgow.

The focus on methane comes as the World Meteorological Organization warned of the largest year-on-year increase in methane concentrations in 2021 since records began nearly 40 years old.

Abandon fossil fuels

About 20 countries, including Germany, the United States, Canada, Britain and France, pledged last November to stop public funding of fossil fuel projects abroad by end of 2022, except in “limited” circumstances consistent with climate objectives.

COP27 should see a handful of new countries commit. Signatories are also under pressure to translate the non-binding commitment into concrete policy, which some, including France, have done.

Others, such as Germany and the United States, have not yet published such policies, and questions remain about the rigor of these plans. This year, Germany has called for new gas investment, as it strives to replace its Russian gas supply with alternatives – which campaigners say could breach the pledge.

A fledgling international alliance to stop new oil and gas drilling also hopes to announce new members at COP27. Launched by Denmark and Sweden at last year’s climate talks, the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance counts France and Sweden among its members, but has yet to gain support from major fossil fuel producers. .

$100 billion by 2023

The inability of rich countries to deliver promised finance to poorer countries has eroded confidence in recent climate talks and made collective progress more difficult.

At the heart of the problem is a pledge made in 2009 by developed countries to transfer $100 billion a year by 2020 to vulnerable states. The amount has become symbolic, even if it is well below the real sums needed by poor countries to deal with serious climate impacts.

Rich countries fell to $16.7 billion short of the 2020 target and signaled that it will not be reached until 2023. Analysis from the German and Canadian governments suggests that rich countries will provide more than 100 billions of dollars in the years after 2023.

Greening the business

Launched ahead of last year’s UN talks, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero – known by its acronym GFANZ – acts as an umbrella group for financial services firms seeking to achieve net zero emissions in their wallets. The group now has over 550 members, including most of the world’s leading banks, insurers and asset managers, with collective assets of over $150 trillion.

Since joining, 118 asset managers, 44 asset owners and 53 banks have set short-term targets to reduce emissions, with more expected to do so in the coming months.
GFANZ, led by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, has also launched a series of projects to accelerate change in the real economy, including those that help establish standards and frameworks for disclosure. and setting goals.

Despite this, the group and some of its members have been criticized for not moving fast enough, particularly in providing funding to companies developing fossil fuel production. And last week, climate activists criticized GFANZ for abandoning a requirement for its members to sign on to a UN emissions reduction campaign.

Data Reporting Standards

Announced at COP26, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) was created to set baseline standards for corporate environmental data reporting around the world, amid complaints from investors and companies that disclosures were difficult to compare.

The group has since appointed Emmanuel Faber, the former head of French yogurt Danone, as its chairman and appointed a high-level leadership group to develop guidelines in time to launch them in 2023.

Despite this, regulators in the European Union and the United States have decided to launch their own rules, all with slight differences that companies say could increase the cost of compliance and end up with even less clarity. .

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