Today’s Solutions: December 04, 2021

The 26th annual United Nations climate change summit has officially come to a close. We shared a few updates along the way about coal pledges, carbon-neutral countries, and Indigenous forest protection, but now that COP26 is wrapped up, let’s take a broader look at what the summit achieved.

Official carbon offset market framework

One big achievement from COP26 is official regulations regarding carbon offsets. This wraps up a loose end left over from the Paris Agreement. The new rules prevent the double counting of offsets and introduce an automatic cancellation of two percent of the credits, leveling the playing field for developing countries to benefit from offset funds as well.

Optimism about 1.5 degrees Celsius

Following the Paris Climate Accords, experts warned that the actions and commitments taken would only limit us to six degrees Celsius of warming, a devastating potential outcome. Observers and scientists are optimistic that the new Glasgow commitments could actually limit us to under three degrees Celsius of warming, given that countries actually follow through on their pledges.

Renewed deforestation pledge

Over 100 countries came together in Glasgow to commit to renewing their deforestation efforts. The participating countries, which represent more than 85 percent of the world’s forests, have committed to ending and reversing deforestation by 2030. Read more about this commitment here. 

A shift away from coal 

As predicted, much time was devoted at COP26 to the end of coal. Over 40 countries committed to stopping all coal investment both domestically and abroad. However, the US and China (two of the biggest coal producers and users) did not agree to the pledge. Read more about the agreement here. 

Reduce methane emissions

More than 100 countries, including the US, Japan, and Canada, agreed to cut methane emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade, compared to 2020 levels.

Net-zero commitment from India

A big victory from the conference was India’s pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. India is one of the world’s largest consumers of coal, but under this new pledge, the country has agreed to significantly expand renewable energy investments.

There is still work to do 

Although Glasgow yielded some significant milestones, many scientists and politicians urge further action. Ambitions about increasing aid from climate-responsible developed countries to climate-vulnerable developing ones fell flat, and experts estimate that current commitments realistically place us at 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming. The good news is that more than 100,000 young people marched at the climate summit, demanding increased action. With the energy of dedicated activists, we can continue to push for a greener future.

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