Key Lessons From COP26

Observers express cautious optimism as countries come together on climate goals, but developing nations say they need more support to mitigate the impacts of climate change already in progress.

November 22, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


David Knowles and Ben Adler describe some key takeaways from the COP26 climate conference, which COP26 President Alok Sharma called a "fragile win" for countries seeking to mitigate climate change and slow global warming.

Activists express concern about the nonbinding nature of the pledges made at the conference and the revelation that some countries have been misreporting their emissions data, throwing reductions goals into question.

Developing nations and activists also remain concerned that climate finance is disproportionately tilted toward measures to help developing nations lower emissions — something that most benefits rich countries, since it lowers climate change — and not for preventing, or simply being reimbursed for damage from climate change impacts that are already happening or will be soon.

Yet despite the lack of an enforcement mechanism, Knowles and Adler write that advocates remain hopeful that the conference yielded some promising results that could move the needle on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, with over 130 countries pledging to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Some countries signed onto 'side deal' agreements to cooperate on climate change goals, while all participants agreed that eliminating fossil fuels and ending deforestation should be at the forefront of their efforts. The conference also established rules for international carbon markets that should close loopholes and implement more rigorous measurement mechanisms.

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