COP26: Will It Be Enough?

November 1, 2021

In 2019, the Conference of the Parties (COP), the global decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was last held in Madrid. World leaders gathered to continue to plot an actionable plan for battling intensifying climate change. This gathering was laden with acrimony between leaders over commitment to tackle levels of greenhouse gases (GHG). Failure to reach consensus resulted in a debunked conference.

Hopes have been high for the COP26 gathering in Glasgow November 1-12 where nations will need to upgrade their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for the first time since the ratification of the Paris Accords in 2015. However, we’re seeing signs that some key countries are perhaps not doing enough. 

The overarching goal in Glasgow and successive COP conferences is to leave a positive environmental legacy for our children and grandchildren and for posterity. There are four main goals at this conference:

  • Work in cooperation and rise together to tackle climate change through public and private sectors, and NGOs
  • Secure global net zero by mid-century to keep the 1.5°C goal viable by delivering on pledged NDCs by phasing out coal, curtail deforestation, and expedite electrification
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural ecosystems that are already and will be affected by climate change
  • Mobilize finance. Developed countries must make good on delivering $100B per year toward climate change projects 

Indeed, energy efficiency, too, has its rightful place on the COP26 agenda by promoting organizations and countries to join the IEA’s Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment initiative and the EP100 initiative. It is clear that top COP26 leadership views energy efficiency as a cardinal component in battling climate change. At the 2020 IEA virtual summit, "Clean Energy Transitions," in his speech COP26 President Alok Sharma said "...we must not forget that in every sector, energy efficiency can save costs, cut emissions, and raise productivity."

Why are hopes mixed for a better outcome from this conference than the Madrid COP?

  • The United States, under the Biden Administration, is back in the global climate change battle arena
  • In recent years, and increasingly so, the world has witnessed successive devastating natural calamities on all seven continents, and governments are under increasing pressure from their constituents to act
  • Global youth climate movements are gaining steam in their influence and will have a meaningful representation
  • China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have committed to environmental measures, but there are some mixed messages about what this means. However, China has agreed to its previous commitment to end funding for international coal power plants. 

Let us hope that this time world leaders will act on what is demanded of civilization to secure a better, more secure future for generations to come.