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A round-up of the first week at the COP26 summit in Glasgow

By November 2, 2021November 4th, 2021No Comments

Expectations of action-plans made by world leaders at the COP26 summit remain high after the first week draws to a close. Please find below a round-up of summit events and commitments to combat climate change so far:

India sets out major climate commitments

India is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide after the United States and China. Significantly, its population is expected to overtake China’s, with nearly 273 million people added to its population between now and 2050, a UN report said in 2019. While the country is one of the cheapest producers of solar energy in the world, 70% of India’s power is currently generated by coal.

India has committed to net zero emissions by 2070, an objective which has been doubted by some delegates. Prime Minister Narenda Modi also made a major commitment to generating 500GW of non-fossil fuel energy by 2030. By 2030, he also committed to a 45% reduction in the carbon intensity of the economy.

Deforestation pledge from world leaders

On Tuesday, COP26 leaders made an important pledge to end deforestation by 2030. According to the UK Government, the pledge is backed by almost $20 billion in public and private funding and is endorsed by more than 100 leaders representing over 85% of the world’s forests, including the Amazon rainforest, Canada’s northern boreal forest and the Congo Basin rainforest.

With today’s unprecedented pledges, we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian”, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Greenpeace criticised the Glasgow initiative for effectively giving the green light to “another decade of deforestation”.”

Signing the pledge were some of the worst offenders of deforestation, Brazil and Russia. Other major signatories included France, Australia, China and the United States. Brazil’s government, much criticised for its environmental policies, announced yesterday at the summit that it would cut 2005-level greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 – up from a previous pledge of 43%.

Absenteeism leaves an impact on proceedings

There are some notable absentees at the COP26 proceedings, including leaders of key environmentally-damaging countries. China’s President Xi Jinping, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have not attend the summit, despite being critical to the dialogue on protecting the planet.

President Jinping put forward a written statement during the first few day’s of the summit, which failed to pin down any solid commitments to emissions reduction. The President called for developed countries to “provide support to help developing countries do better” on dealing with the climate crisis. Jair Bolsonaro also made some comments regarding COP26, saying that Brazil “is a green powerhouse. When it comes to fighting climate change, we have always been part of the solution, not the problem,” said Bolsonaro. However, Amazon protection activists urged delegates at COP26 not to trust the “greenwashing” promises of Bolsonaro’s government.

More than 40 countries are to shift away coal

Major coal-producing countries such as Vietnam, Poland and Chile are among those making this commitment, however some of the most coal-dependent countries, such as Australia, India, China and the US, did not join the pledge. The Times highlights that China’s share of global carbon emissions has risen to a record level, accounting for almost a third of the total due to its increasing consumption of coal.

Scientists who produce the Global Carbon Budget have warned emissions could reach a new record next year, unless China cuts its use of coal. Shadow Minister Ed Miliband called out “glaring gaps” in the commitment such as China’s absence and more concrete promises by coal-emitters to reduce domestic production.

BIVDA will continue to monitor proceedings at the COP26 summit until its finish on 12 November, and we are here to support members through their own sustainability and environmental transformation. Find out more about the BIVDA-funded sustainability training programme with SGS here.