Leaders from 200 countries met for the 26th Confluence of the Parties in Glasgow. They spent two weeks discussing, negotiating, and talking about how to reach the goal of minimising global warming to 1.5c. In the end they signed an agreement.
COP26 is now over and the agreement published. Whilst there are positives in text, it moves neither far nor fast enough. The Paris Climate Agreement has been 'reaffirmed', with the aim of keeping global warming to 1.5c. The Glasgow agreement though leaves the world on course for 2.4 degrees of warming. A level that will push us towards irreversible tipping points in the planets climate systems; resulting in severe flooding, droughts, food shortages and sea level rise.
Globally what's the summary?
COP26 kicked off in a promising way, with more than 100 world leaders pledging to end deforestation by 2030, 40 nations pledging to phase out coal, and 20 countries vowing to halt fossil fuel financing.
The final text failed to ensure the phase out of fossil fuels essential to keeping to the Paris target of under 1.5 degrees warming and called only for a "phase down" in coal use. Leaders at COP26 once again left the meaningful action to be carried out at some future time, time we are rapidly running out of.
It's likely that without all of the frontline activists present on the streets of Glasgow there would not have been any progress made. The youth, the indigenous leaders, and those from the frontlines of the climate crisis were loud and this people power made a difference.
Climate Financing - The 100 billion dollar commitment to climate financing has not happened and the climate justice aspect of COP26 is especially disappointing. Our pacific neighbours at are at the forefront of the climate crisis and many were not even able to send representatives to Glasgow. The climate injustice continues.
Globally countries have committed to 'phasing down' coal and fossil fuel subsidies. There's never been a mention of any phasing out of fossil fuels at a COP before. So even this is watered down it's (kind of) a win.
Fossil Fuel Subsidies $207 216 625 765 of fossil fuel subsidies were provided during the two weeks of COP26. Promises ring hollow when the fossil fuel industry remains subsidised.
Some good news: Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC's) from each country will now be revisited annually, instead of every 5 years. This will help increase political pressure from all countries.
And what specifically has New Zealand done?
Our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) - NZ has upped the anti and pledged to reduce it's emissions by 50%. This is an improvement but if you read the fineprint it's not quite as good as it sounds. Will New Zealand really reduce its emissions by 50% by 2030? This plan relies heavily on carbon-offsets in other countries. This is technically allowed with the current rules. There was a small amount of progress made on these rules at COP26 but finer details are yet to be resolved.
Methane - NZ has signed up to the Global Methane Pledge, to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. The devil is also in the detail here as this is a 'collective agreement' and so far NZ only has plans to reduce methane emissions by 10%.
Oil and Gas - NZ has signed on as and 'associate' member of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. Despite this two new oil and gas exploration permits have been granted in Taranaki. Some Wellington law students are suing the energy minister over this decision.
Coal - Given we've been increasing our coal usage lately it's very good news to hear that NZ has pledged to phase out coal for electricity in next 10-20 years. Let's make sure it's phased out, not just phased down.
Climate Finance – New Zealand has committed to their fair share of finance, mostly to pacific nations. This would be the only area in which NZ could be seen as a leader.