COP26 Takeaways From Climate Planning Experts

COP26, the annual conference aimed at building cooperation among world leaders to address the climate crisis, is officially over. The result: An official COP (short for Conference of the Parties) climate pact mentioning fossil fuels — the dominant cause of climate change — for the first time ever.

That fact is a good reminder that two things being true at the same time. It’s significant that fossils fuels are explicitly included in the official text and it’s extremely disappointing that it happened for the first time in 2021.

Kim Morrow, Verdis Group’s Director of Climate Planning and Resiliency, is plugged into climate action and resiliency planning on a national level every day. We recently discussed our takeaways from COP26.

We started with the bad:

  • A last-minute change to the draft resolution, introduced by India, watered down language on phasing out coal. The edit called for countries to phase down coal, instead of phase it out completely. (Source: The Guardian)
  • Pledges are important, but accountability and deadlines should follow. Furthermore, current pledges are based on flawed data, according to reporting by the Washington Post showing that many countries are underestimating their greenhouse gas emissions. (Source: The Washington Post)
  • The conference ended without firm commitments to properly protect vulnerable countries. The pact only “urges” wealthy countries, which are disproportionately responsible for global warming, to fulfill dated promises of $100 billion in annual aid to vulnerable countries, which are disproportionately harmed by climate disasters. (Source: The New York Times)

There was good news, too. Here’s a few takeaways that give us hope:

  • The momentum is on our side. More businesses are shifting their sustainability from an add-on to a must-have. We see and help cultivate this momentum in our conversations with clients every day. A recent blog from McKinsey, the global management consulting firm, underlines how essential it is for businesses to plan how they will achieve Net Zero. Our Net Zero Pathway service is built to do exactly that. (Source: McKinsey)
  • A major deal on regulating carbon markets will advance cooperation among nations. COP26 addressed a challenging aspect of the Paris agreement known as Article 6, establishing an agreement to allow countries that exceed their emissions reduction goals to sell their extra progress to nations that are lagging behind. (Source: Vox)
  • More than 100 countries agreed to end deforestation by 2030, affecting roughly 85% of the world’s forests. Forests play a critical role in absorbing and storing carbon dioxide and slowing the speed of global warming. (Source: Vox)

To learn more, visit our website to download our free guide to creating a Climate Action Plan, and read more about our newest service, the Net Zero Pathway.

(Photo by Yux Xiang on Unsplash)

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