The stakes for Cop26 couldn’t be higher – Climate Weekly

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View over Glasgow in Scotland, UK (Photo: Derek Rankine/Flickr)


The latest UN Climate Change report on our collective emissions trajectory makes for grim reading.

With the first tranche of updated national climate targets in, global emissions are set to fall by less than 1% between 2010 and 2030. The IPCC says 45% cuts are needed to hold temperature rise to 1.5C this century. It is a huge gap and one that the “ratchet” mechanism of the Paris Agreement was supposed to progressively close.

While Joe Biden’s presidency of the US creates a more favourable ambience for raising ambition, it meets ambivalence in India, Australia and Brazil. Recent net zero converts China, South Korea and Japan have yet to level up their short-term action. Many vulnerable countries are too mired in debt to invest in greenery.

This November’s Cop26 has been trailed as the most critical UN climate summit since Paris, but it remains unclear what outcome to expect.

At a political level, it will take a lot of heavy lifting in the next few months to strengthen national climate plans – and creative leadership to make them add up to a meaningful moment in Glasgow.

At a technical level, a stalemate over whether to take interim negotiations online threatens to further delay resolution of contentious issues – notably on the design of international carbon markets.

At a practical level, we have not been told how many delegates will be accredited for the summit, nor who takes priority if numbers are restricted.

What is clear is the credibility of the whole UN climate process is at stake. After 30 years of talking, there has to be more to show for it than this.

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Read more on: Climate politics | COP26 | NDCs | Paris Agreement