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Vulcan Insight | COP26: Strong on climate pledges, weak on concrete actions

With the COP26 climate conference up and running, world leaders have been strong in climate action rhetoric, but have so-far lacked setting out strong actions on how to achieve them. Despite the devastating report presented by the IPCC earlier this year, the pledged delivered so far would still put the world on track to reaching 2.7°C according to the UN.

With its newly proposed “Fit for 55” climate and energy package, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sought to present the continent as the global leader in tackling climate change. Indeed, the package, which sets out a vast range of proposals such as extending the Emissions Trading Scheme and banning combustion engines, globally is the only legislative roadmap for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Critically, however, the proposals are yet to undergo the legislative process in the European Parliament and Council, with some in the later having already called on the Commission to delay or substantially revise the proposals over the current energy price crisis. At the same time, the package has also been criticised for not being not being ambitious enough by campaigners.

With that package in mind, Commission President von der Leyen called on the global community to back carbon pricing and finalise the creation of a global emissions trading scheme as originally agreed on under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Yet, with talks on the subject to be discussed at the technical level through the coming week, little results are expected.

Meanwhile, world leaders have made significant pledges on helping poor countries finance the transition to clean energy and for tackling climate change. On Tuesday, almost 100 countries joined the European Union and the United States in a pledge to cut harmful methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030. However, while ambitious, the pledge is significantly undermined by the fact that China is not among its co-signatories.

China, however, did sign up to a new plan to end de-forestation by 2030. While the plan has been criticised for being too slow and unambitious, in a huge win, both the Brazilian and Russian Governments signed up.

As the globe’s fourth largest emitter, India’s announcement that it would target of emissions neutrality by 2070 was broadly welcomed. The pledge came just ahead of an announcement Wednesday that more than 40 countries have agreed to phase out coal for energy generation in the 2030s and 40s. The coalition included major coal countries such as Canada, Poland, South Korea, the Ukraine, Indonesia and Vietnam. However, Australia, China, India and the US remained missing from the announcement.

In addition, the EU also announced a new initiative on climate innovation with Bill Gates called the “Breakthrough Energy catalyst,” which aims to scale up markets such as green hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, carbon capture and storage, and energy storage technologies.

Compliments of Vulcan Consulting – a member of the EACCNY.