Glasgow climate summit signals end for coal as COP26 comes to an end

Author: Chetan Patel

2021/11/15

Additional reporting by Diane Elijah

LONDON (ICIS)--The COP26 conference in Glasgow ended on the evening of 13 November, where world leaders signed the Glasgow Climate Pact.

The two-week summit saw politicians, businesses and organisations come together to agree on how to eventually achieve the “more ambitious” climate targets needed to make net zero a reality.

While many parties remained disputed over key themes, what remained clear was the urgency the world faced in keeping the rise in global heating to 1.5C.

Dialogue was therefore centred around increasing efforts to bridge the gap between existing commitments and what is required to help stay on course. Indeed, therefore the Glasgow Climate Pact was the first-time coal and fossil fuels have been explicitly mentioned in a final COP decision.

The agreement states parties will “accelerate efforts towards phase-down of unabated coal power” while also mentioning the “phase out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.”

While there was debate as to the use of “phase-out” or “phase-down”, the end of coal is certain. According to the centre for research on energy and clean air, under the Glasgow pact there is likely to be:

- Cancellation of 90 new coal power projects

- Phase out of 370 existing plants

- 95% of global coal plants now covered by carbon neutrality targets

Perhaps an even bigger achievement in Glasgow was the agreement surrounding rules for international carbon markets, or Article 6 of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Article 6 is crucial in helping countries generate deeper emissions reductions and helps them achieve the “more ambitious” nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

This is a necessary step in helping current targets align with the required pathway of limiting heating to 1.5C. Considering that after the Paris Agreement, the world is on course for a 2.7C warming assuming 100% delivery on 2030 NDC pledges, a lot more is required to bridge that gap which makes sure 1.5C is the ceiling.

All this has been occurring against the backdrop of a global energy crisis. Soaring prices and supply shortages has led to many calling into question the impacts that a faster race to net zero will have on energy markets.

In order for parties to revisit and strengthen 2030 targets, and beyond, parties will need to meet and reconfirm national pledges outside of the five-year cycle set out in the Paris Agreement. For energy markets, this means that more work is to be done in the energy transition.

There was also mention of climate finance with the onus on developed nations. The agreement urges developed countries to deliver on their previous commitment to jointly provide $100bn/year to developing countries to help them cut CO2 emissions and adapt to climate change.

Developed countries failed to reach this goal by 2020 and the Glasgow agreement now asks them to meet this goal through 2025 and to be transparent in its implementation. With the latest pledges, the $100bn should be reached in 2023, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said on 13 November.

SUMMARY OF OUTCOMES

- Commitment to “phase-down” unabated coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies;

- In finance, the agreement urges developed countries to deliver on their previous commitment to jointly provide $100bn/year to developing countries;

- Similarly, dialogue has been opened for loss and damage for countries looking for compensation to help them cope with the effects of climate change;

- Article 6, the final piece of the Paris rulebook was agreed aiding the development of international carbon markets;

- Global methane pledge and others in relation to transport and deforestation.