COP26: The agenda for Glasgow

Synopsis: COP26, which begins next week in Glasgow after a year’s delay, will seek to finalize the rules for the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate. Why is this important, and what else in on the agenda?

Introduction

Negotiators from around the world are assembling in Glasgow, Scotland, from Monday next week for COP26 (or the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change). It was scheduled to be held last year, at the same venue, but had to be put off for the first time in its history because of the pandemic.

Most of the discussions ahead of the meeting have been around an effort to get all countries to commit to a net-zero target by a specific year, somewhere around the mid-century. Net-zero is an extremely contentious subject, deeply dividing the developed and developing countries.

What is the agenda for COP26?

The official agenda of the two-week meeting is:

to finalise the rules and procedures for implementation of the Paris Agreement, which was supposed to have been completed by 2018.

Must Read: What are COP meetings and their significance?
What are some issues from Paris Agreement that are still pending?

Regarding Paris agreement, countries are yet to agree on some of the provisions related to the creation of new carbon markets.

Carbon markets are an important instrument to facilitate emissions reductions, and were an integral part of the Kyoto Protocol that has now given way to Paris Agreement.

Developed countries want more robust way to calculate carbon credits and this remains the last stumbling block in finalising rules and procedures of the Paris agreement.

Must Read: What is the carbon market issue?
What is the net zero issue?

An agreement on carbon markets would involve complex negotiations. Hence, the developed world is now pushing to shift the goalpost from what already has been agreed in the Paris agreement by calling for all countries to adopt Net Zero targets by 2050.

Incidentally, the issue of net-zero, or carbon neutrality, does not find a mention in the Paris Agreement, and therefore, does not form part of the process.

Ministers of 24 nations, which call themselves ‘Like Minded Developing Countries’, or LMDCs, denounced the efforts to force a net-zero target on everyone, saying it went against ‘equity’ and ‘climate justice’. India is a part of LMDC, and interestingly, so is China. Other members include Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. The LMDC has stated that it was lack of adequate action on the part of rich nations that had led to worsening of the climate crisis and the net zero target runs counter to the Paris Agreement and is anti-equity and against climate justice.

Must Read: A timeline of various COP meetings

Source: This post is based on the article “COP26: The agenda for Glasgow” published in The Indian Express on 25th Oct 2021.

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