Here are the opinions of the prominent climate experts about the COP26 outcome:
Laurence Tubiana, CEO – European Climate Foundation
Paris is working. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, we have accelerated action, the COP has responded to the IPCC’s call to close the gap towards 1.5, and coal is in the text. But there is a lot more to do.
The commitments and claims of the first week on finance, forests, end of public finance for fossil fuel, methane and cars must now be translated into real policy and incorporated in the new NDCs that has to be delivered by 2022. And Oil and gas production still to be addressed.
Greenwashing is the new climate denial, and we have seen too much at play in this COP. We must strengthen accountability mechanisms for net-zero going forward. We see through the discussions in Glasgow that the international finance system is not fit for the challenge and is unable to respond to the call of Mia Mottley, PM of Barbados. It needs to be fixed by world leaders now.
And we must address the impacts of the climate crisis on the most vulnerable. This COP has failed to provide immediate assistance for people suffering now. I welcome the doubling of adaptation finance as climate impacts are every year stronger, loss and damage must be at the top of the agenda for COP 27.
Vanessa Nakate, an activist from Uganda, Fridays for Future
“Even if leaders stuck to the promises they have made here in Glasgow, it would not prevent the destruction of communities like mine. Right now, at 1.2 degrees Celsius of global warming, drought and flooding are killing people in Uganda.
Only immediate, drastic emissions cuts will give us hope of safety, and world leaders have failed to rise to the moment. But people are joining our movement. 100,000 people from all different backgrounds came to the streets in Glasgow during COP, and the pressure for change is building.”
Rachel Kyte, Dean – Tufts Fletcher School
“The agreement closes down some of the outrageous loopholes that had been considered, but the language remains unclear in some areas and we have much to do to stop companies and countries gaming the system. We have no room or time for Markets like buckets of water, with 100 tiny holes. It will spill out and dilute the Paris Agreement and make keeping warming to 1.5C that much harder.
What the deal does do, however, is make it even more important that voluntary use of carbon markets is limited, high quality and used in specific circumstances. Science drives integrity and integrity may drive scale. That makes the job of the UN Secretary General’s export group on setting standards for corporate net zero commitments all the more important.”
Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa
“The needs of the world’s vulnerable people have been sacrificed on the altar of the rich world’s selfishness. The outcome here reflects a COP held in the rich world and the outcome contains the priorities of the rich world. Not only did developed countries fail to deliver the long promised $100 billion of climate finance to poorer countries, they have also failed to recognise the urgency of delivering this financial support. They claim to want urgency on emissions reductions, yet they continue to expand fossil fuel production within their own borders.
“For the first time we have a COP decision calling for efforts towards the phase down of coal and fossil fuel subsidies. This is welcome progress, but more is needed including phasing out oil and gas and moving rapidly to renewables. The narrowing of the language to just cover ‘unabated’ coal power and ‘inefficient’ subsidies leaves room for untested technologies such as CCS which only the rich world has access to. We need a global phase out that is fast, fair and final for all fossil fuels.
“On loss and damage, it feels bad that we have nothing to show for the hard work the vulnerables put in, but loss and damage is now up the political agenda in a way it was never before and the only way out is for it to be eventually delivered.
“We are leaving empty handed but morally stronger and hopeful that we can sustain the momentum in the coming year to deliver meaningful support which will allow the vulnerables to deal with the irreversible impacts of climate change created by the polluting world who are failing to take responsibility.”
Shauna Aminath, Environment Minister, Maldives
“The Maldives notes the incremental progress made in Glasgow that’s not in line with the urgency and scale required. What is balanced and pragmatic to other parties will not help the Maldives adapt in time. For some, loss and damage may be the beginning of conversation and dialogue, but for us this is a matter of survival.
So while we recognise the foundations that this outcome provides, it does not bring hope to our hearts, but serves as yet another conversation where we put our homes on the line, while those who have other options decide how quickly they want to act to save those who don’t.
We have heard that the technology is available. We know trillions are spent on fossil fuels. So we know that this is not about the lack of either of them. We have 98 months to halve global emissions. The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is a death sentence for us.”
Alden Meyer, Senior Associate, E3G
“We saw a call here in Glasgow for emergency actions to deal with the existential threat of climate change, and some important initiatives were launched, but whether enough countries raise their 2030 ambition enough to keep 1.5 degrees C in reach will be the real test of the success of this COP.
Developed countries committed to double finance for developing country adaptation, but much more is needed to help these countries prepare for the increased climate impacts they will face in coming years.
Loss and damage was a high-profile issue at this COP, but the dialogues called for over the next few years provide no assurance that the vulnerable countries and communities facing devastating climate impacts will get the help they need. The US, EU, and other developed countries will need to come to these dialogues prepared to put real solutions on the table.
As a lifelong optimist, I see the Glasgow outcome as half-full rather than half-empty. But the atmosphere responds to emissions — not COP decisions — and much work remains ahead to translate the strong rhetoric here into reality.”
Sara Jane Ahmed, Climate Vulnerable Forum / V20 Finance Advisor
“COP26 achieved some progress but fell short of a complete “Emergency Pact” to reflect the climate emergency we are all in. Developing countries have said clearly and for many years that climate ambition must include mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and loss and damage.
The lack of a solid resolution to providing finance for vulnerable countries hit by costly climate disasters and complex transition risks is a failure that will need to be addressed. The $500 bn delivery rebuilds trust.
Developed countries must quickly deliver an improved quantity and quality of climate finance, and the next COP will need to deliver progress on financing for loss and damage.”
José Gregorio Mirabal Díaz – Elected leader of COICA (an umbrella organization that includes Indigenous leaders from all nine nations of the Amazon)
“We will always have the hope that we can stop the climate crisis with the support of all, but until now the extractivism development model has deceived the world. This must change now. If the solution is to protect nature to avoid climate change, this can only be done with the titling for Indigenous peoples, allowing us to self-demarcate our territories so that external invasions do not come, whether of oil, gold, mining or any type of extractive exploitation.”
Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International
“It’s meek, it’s weak and the 1.5C goal is only just alive, but a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending. And that matters.
“Glasgow was meant to deliver on firmly closing the gap to 1.5C and that didn’t happen, but in 2022 nations will now have to come back with stronger targets. The only reason we got what we did is because young people, Indigenous leaders, activists and countries on the climate frontline forced concessions that were grudgingly given.
“The line on phasing out unabated coal and fossil fuel subsidies is weak and compromised but its very existence is nevertheless a breakthrough, and the focus on a just transition is essential. The call for emissions reductions of 45% by the end of this decade is in line with what we need to do to stay under 1.5C and brings the science firmly into this deal. But it needs to be implemented.
“The offsets scam got a boost in Glasgow with the creation of new loopholes that are too big to tolerate, endangering nature, Indigenous Peoples and the 1.5C goal itself. The UN Secretary General announced that a group of experts will bring vital scrutiny to offset markets, but much work still needs to be done to stop the greenwashing, cheating and loopholes giving big emitters and corporations a pass.”
Malango Mughogho – Managing Director, ZeniZeni
“Ambition on climate change cannot be separated from the need for a massive scale-up in funding for vulnerable countries. The massive fiscal response to the pandemic tells us that the money is there. We now need to get the money to those who need it the most. While some of the decisions taken in Glasgow offer an outline of how to do this, there is a critical need for additional finance to support adaptation and loss and damage in vulnerable countries.”
Luisa Neubauer, an activist from Germany, Fridays for Future
“We are not facing some interesting diplomatic puzzle, we are facing a climate catastrophe. This COP failed to introduce the systemic changes we so desperately need. Heads of State have not delivered what we demand, but the climate movement is growing and more people are coming on board. When we say “1.5 is not negotiable”, we mean it.”
Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO, World Resources Institute
“In a year marked by uncertainty and mistrust, COP26 affirmed the importance of collective global action to address the climate crisis. While we are not yet on track, the progress made over the last year and at the COP26 summit offers a strong foundation to build upon. The real test now is whether countries accelerate their efforts and translate their commitments into action.
“The train is moving and all countries need to get on board. As attention shifts beyond COP26, it’s critical for everyone to step up their efforts and turn commitments into real action in ways that benefit all people.”
Jennifer Tollmann, Senior Policy Advisor, E3G
”Despite committing to high ambition, the EU struggled to build bridges with the US, China or small island states across North-South divides. A handful of EU countries worked closely with small island nations and least developed countries in the High Ambition Coalition. In the final moments, the EU benefited from the responsible action of small island states, joining them in holding the line on an outcome that keeps 1.5 in reach.
The task now is to change the politics and that could see those sceptical of the Glasgow Climate Pact come back to the table with more ambition. Leaders clearly recognized that getting the trillions flowing to support just transitions is make or break. The EU must decide whether its ‘Global Gateway’ will be part of the solution, and whether they can invest in diplomacy to see international partners develop their own green transitions.
Rebuilding relationships and trust with climate vulnerable countries will be harder. The EU must be willing to be part of the solution on supporting partners dealing with the devastating losses and damages from climate change.”
Li Shuo, Senior Global Policy Advisor, Greenpeace East Asia
“Glasgow did not deliver 1.5C. It only kept the goal alive, if countries work hard enough immediately after this COP. NDCs have to be revisited and strengthened next year. We need not just targets on paper, but real action in practice.
COP26 took place in a challenging geopolitical environment. The US and China managed their differences and demonstrated the need for cooperation. But the climate crisis demands the global community to do more than what Beijing and Washington are able to agree.
This time, different from Paris, the multilateral train moved faster than the G2 agreement. Time for the world’s two largest emitters to catch up to really lead from the front.”
Dinamam Tuxã, Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB)
“We know the economic actors; when they invest in nature, they are looking for profits and they have a hard time understanding how we view nature because we don’t put a price on it.
Ironically right now, for those investors who are serious about protecting nature, we share the same goal — to keep the forests standing, but without us and our rights to provide the protection, these forests will not last.”
Richard Black, Research Fellow – Imperial College
“This summit has definitely moved the dial on several aspects of climate change – governments have taken steps to improve the lot of the most vulnerable nations, the missing pages of the Paris Agreement rulebook have been filled in, and governments that are marking time on emissions reduction are requested to come back next year with a more serious offer.
“Above all, for the first time all governments formally agreed that phasing out coal is essential to combatting climate change and that fossil fuel subsidies should go as well. They didn’t all want to, but reality is sometimes impossible to wish away. Some will have been looking to COP26 to solve climate change, but no summit could ever do that. It has done enough, however, to keep the 1.5°C target in play – but individual governments have a lot of work to do quickly to turn pledges into action.”
Ulka Kelkar, Climate Programme Director, WRI India
“India will be affected by COP26 asking countries to phase out polluting coal power and withdraw inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. India will also have to join other countries to escalate emission reduction actions more frequently. This will not be easy for a lower-middle income country that is trying to lift millions of people out of poverty.
India’s battle against climate change will be led by scaling up renewable energy, which will be the foundation of our net zero future; by industry, who will fight to stay competitive in the global economy; and by states and cities, who will need to urbanize with respect for nature.
Now that COP-26 has finalised the rules of carbon trading, India will be able to sell more than a million carbon credits from previous years, and can also create a domestic market for carbon trading.”
Jacob Dubbins, Co-founder of Conscious Advertising Network
‘Finally, the dangers of climate disinformation and misinformation have been recognised at this COP. A global coalition of leading businesses, disinformation experts and the climate community are uniting to confront this complex threat. We all depend on critical climate science, and climate action cannot be undermined by denial, delay, and false solutions. Leaders, governments and tech platforms must act now to implement policies that define climate dis/misinformation and actions to counter it.’
Jennie King, Senior Policy Manager, Civic Action and Education, ISD
“ISD and our ten partner organisations have monitored climate delayism and disinformation before and during COP26. Once again, we observed that such narratives could be extremely popular online and threaten the negotiations progress. For some, it is a cynical ploy to monetise their content and gain a new audience online, but for others, it’s a committed tactic to maintain the status quo: by promoting unproven (or hypothetical) solutions to achieve the Paris Goals; by discrediting science and those involved in the climate response; or by claiming that climate action itself is a fig leaf for shadowy plots and tyranny. Overall it makes climate a “culture wars” pawn at a time when we desperately need momentum in policy and implementation.”