The 2015 Paris Agreement commits its signatories – virtually all of the world's governments – to try to keep global temperature rises above pre-industrial levels to significantly below 2 degrees celsius, ideally 1.5 degrees celsius, with wealthier nations taking the lead.
In the lead up to COP26, a range of countries are announcing their intention to reach net zero emissions. These now include China as well as the UK and other European nations. US president Joe Biden is expected to join them, increasing hopes of a successful outcome at COP26. Experts warn that the UK, as host of COP26, will be under particular pressure to credibly demonstrate it could meet its net zero target.
The United Nations Environment Programme calls for "dramatic strengthening" of national commitments ahead of COP26. It warns that the emissions gap between action and reality is growing.
The Climate Coalition calls for the UK to deliver an ambitious decarbonisation commitment that meets the net zero target while applying climate justice principles.
The UK-based UN Principles for Responsible Investment sets out how the UK can “showcase leadership” on a global net zero agenda. Its particular focus is on the policy frameworks needed to enable responsible investment in areas including transport and green buildings.
A core principle of the UN framework is the transfer of money from richer to less wealthy nations, in recognition of the large injustices at the heart of the climate problem. Stopping the worst outcomes will cost a lot of money, however much of it will also lead to benefits. Wealthier nations have also disproportionately caused a problem that will fall hardest on those least responsible and more vulnerable.
Rich nations had pledged to deliver $100 billion a year by 2020 from both public and private sources but are currently falling short and there is some ambiguity over what counts as legitimate financial support.
The International Institute for Environment and Development warns that only 10% of climate finance is reaching communities on the ground where the need is greatest. It calls for a new focus on prioritising locally-relevant finance.
Lawyer and organiser Harpreet Kaur Paul made the case for “reparative climate justice” in her report for Common Wealth based on a “fair share" analysis. Recommended reparative mechanisms cover climate financing, debt cancellation, trade and company reform, and needs assessments.
The Climate Policy Initiative analyses the current global landscape for all climate-related investment, which is still far short of what is needed.
COP26 is not the only major environmental summit on the horizon. In May 2021 world governments are due to meet in China for a crucial meeting convened by the Convention on Biological Diversity.
It aims to reach ambitious new agreements on the protection and restoration of biodiversity. This meeting is as critical for nature as COP26 is for the climate. Global biodiversity loss has not slowed since the signing of the first biodiversity plan in 2010, with the world having missed all of its twenty targets.
Greenpeace’s Unearthed blog runs through the main issues at stake within the Convention on Biological Diversity process, including analysing why it receives far less international attention than climate summits despite its importance.
Birdlife International has a series of briefings for what it wants from the post-2021 framework, including new targets to halt species decline by 2030.
The Forest People’s Programme calls for more support for indigenous peoples and communities to help deliver on the Convention’s ambitions.