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The story so far: Review of progress so far on climate change

A daily blog series during COP26 — Day 2 summary.

Global warming concept -- red hot sunlight on one side of planet

Today marked the start of the two-day World Leaders Summit, which sets the tone for the next two weeks of the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference. The summit has brought together heads of state and government, alongside leaders from international organizations and the world of business.

More than a show of faith, these leaders are setting out their plan of action for how they will help the urgent acceleration of COP goals — both domestically and internationally. Buoyed by the symbolism of the opening ceremony, hosted by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, world leaders were encouraged to be ambitious with their commitments.

Impassioned speeches reminded the delegates of their responsibility to act. Boris Johnson called on the private sector to significantly invest in climate change resilience, saying that they could provide trillions to countries to help adaption and mitigation efforts. 

During COP21, held in Paris in 2015, 196 parties signed the international treaty known as the Paris Agreement.

The ‘bottom-up’ approach to the Agreement allowed countries to decide how they would reduce emissions in order to reach the Agreement’s primary goal of limiting global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels — ideally at 1.5 degrees.          

We now know these nationally determined contributions (NDCs) were not ambitious enough to limit global warming to below 2 degrees. Without immediate action, the target of 1.5 degrees will soon be out of reach. To have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, global emissions must be halved by 2030.

In the Agreement, developed countries committed by 2020 they would provide at least US$100 billion a year in climate-related finance to developing countries to limit global warming. In 2019, there was a shortfall of over US$20 billion.

As was highlighted in the afternoon session, the next decade will be “the critical decade”, and COP26 must be a turning point in climate action. To this end, not only was mitigation of global warming highlighted, but also adaptation and increased resilience through ESG. Investment and innovations in infrastructure will also be needed to ensure a sustainable future and a smooth transition.

This blog is part of the COP26 series.

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