Nature magazine reports that researchers have expressed relief at the COP26 agreement, but some sought stronger commitments to reduce emissions, and “loss and damage” finance for countries vulnerable to climate change.
Government ministers at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) reached a deal on further steps to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions after discussions overran by 24 hours.
On 13 November, representatives from nearly 200 countries agreed the final text of the deal, which pledges further action to curb emissions, more frequent updates on progress and additional funding for low- and middle-income countries.
“COP26 has closed the gap, but it has not solved the problem,” says Niklas Hoehne, a climate researcher at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “Countries now need to come forward with more ambitious pledges to tackle climate change,” he adds.
If countries meet their 2030 targets, global temperatures will still rise 2.4 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, according to an analysis by Hoehne and colleagues that was published on the website Climate Action Tracker during the first week of COP26.
The final 11-page document, called the Glasgow Climate Pact, says that greenhouse-gas emissions must be reduced and carbon dioxide emissions must fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 for global warming to be maintained at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. It notes that, under existing emissions-reduction pledges, emissions will be nearly 14 per cent higher by 2030 than in 2010.
Rules that govern international cooperation and carbon markets were finalised, ending a prolonged debate. The new rules prevent double-counting. When one company or country invests in emissions reductions that take place in another, the reductions are only recorded once, when reported to the UN.
Countries acknowledged the need to reduce emissions faster, and also agreed to report on progress annually. For the first time in a COP text, nations agreed to begin reducing coal-fired power (without carbon capture) and to start to eliminate subsidies on other fossil fuels.
However, following objections from China and India, a promise in earlier drafts of the text to “phase out” coal was changed to “phase down”.