What is happening at COP26?


Countries’ climate ambition is currently not enough to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, to keep temperatures from rising by no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century (and preferably to 1.5°C). One solution is to increase the frequency of nationally determined contributions, the emissions-reduction plans that countries must submit to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which are currently required every five years. (Countries are allowed to update them more frequently if they wish.) The next round of ndcs is not expected until 2025, a timeframe that many think is too slow: at current emissions rates, half of the carbon budget that will take temperatures to 1.5°C will be used up in the next five years.

More than 100 mostly-developing countries at cop26—including the 44 members of the Alliance of Small Island States, 54 members of the Africa Group and 48 members of the Least Developed Countries, the world’s poorest—are now pushing for ndcs to be required annually. Shortening the cycle is seen as a way to ratchet up ambition much more quickly, and thus accelerate decarbonisation. But they will have to convince some powerful countries who favour the existing five year timescale, including Britain, the European Union and Saudi Arabia.

Headed for 2.4˚C warming | Day 10, November 9th
Has the Paris agreement put the world on track to curb global warming? Yes and no. On the one hand, the agreement’s mere existence and its requirement that governments regularly come back to the table has helped to improve projections of future warming. On the other, there is still a huge gap between what governments have promised and what is needed to limit global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels–and in many instances an equally large gap between what governments have promised to do and what they are currently able to deliver.

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