What’s Going On Here?

Last week, intersessional climate talks ended after intense negotiations between the world’s leading climate diplomats. Unfortunately, the main issues of the three-week event were left unresolved and negotiators have been asked to propose solutions to ministers as part of a political resolution.

What Does This Mean?

From 31 May to 17 June, vital global climate negotiations were held virtually via Microsoft Teams to lay the foundations for the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow in November, heralded by some as the world’s last chance to avert climate catastrophe. The stakes could not have been higher – it had been almost 18 months since talks took place at COP25 in Madrid, after talks had been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, some delegates described the event as frustrating and exhausting – the event was marred by technical and connectivity issues and the sessions were run at unsociable hours, which disproportionately affected countries in the Global South. 

As well as technical hurdles, there were a number of key issues on which little progress was made; climate finance; carbon markets; adaptation; and global stocktake – to name a few. 

Yet, climate finance is arguably the most significant challenge of these negotiations and the world’s chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C and reaching net zero by 2050 at the latest. As part of the Paris Agreement, developed nations pledged to provide $100 billion by 2020 to support developing nations with adaptation and decarbonisation efforts, yet the UN has criticised developed nations for failing to secure such financial support. The Paris Agreement also states that finance should be split 50/50 across mitigation and adaptation efforts – but finance directed towards adaptation has been found to be just 8%.

Why Should We Care?

In this decade of action, we all have a stake in COP26. In particular, as we emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic and look to a Green and Just Recovery, there is a real opportunity to simultaneously tackle the joint COVID-19 and climate crises. 

These virtual talks were a chance to get ahead of the challenging negotiations expected at COP26 and to make progress on key climate issues. Despite the underwhelming feeling from a large number of delegates, there is strong appetite for an in-person COP26 and it is hoped that more desirable outcomes will be reached in Glasgow in November. 

Be Curious!

  • Check out Race to Zero, the UNFCCC’s campaign to accelerate towards a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26. Sign up to the monthly newsletter here.

Listen to the Race to Zero Podcast, hosted by Christiana Figueres, Tom-Rivett Carnac and Paul Dickinson. Their latest episode covers ‘Financing The Race To Zero’!

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