Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

COP26 Takeaways: Statement from Laura Diaz Anadon

| Nov. 18, 2021

As many have noted and expected, the Glasgow Climate Pact is a necessary but insufficient step forward.

What was accomplished? COP26 created pressure for some countries to produce revised NDCs, helped catalyze new pledges to reduce emissions (including from India), led to the approval of the rules to govern international cooperation and carbon markets (the Paris Rulebook) addressing the issue of double counting, and served as the Launchpad for some novel initiatives that could play a useful role. Among the announcements that were made, I would first highlight one that recognizes the importance of strategic investment and government action to lower the cost of technologies to reach carbon neutrality: the Glasgow Breakthroughs (a focus in this report to which I contributed that was launched at COP26.)

The Glasgow Breakthroughs involved over 40 world leaders and focuses on making clean technologies the cheapest available to facilitate their adoption around the world by 2030 in five key areas: power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture. Combined with Mission Innovation and the First Movers Coalition, this announcement indicates that sectoral conversations and coordination may play a greater role going forward. This is important because ultimately we need to make decarbonization technologies across many areas cheap. The Global Methane Pledge was another positive development that expands the space for action. Initiated by the European Union and the United States, it now has more than 100 countries as signatories.

But there is still a long way to go and time is of the essence.

First, numerous assessments find that the national pledges, even if met (a big if), are still very far from delivering a 50 percent chance of achieving the 1.5 oC stabilization goal. In addition, they are often not backed by policies to deliver the short to medium term reductions needed. Saying "we will get to zero in 2050" in 29 years can be cheap talk.

Second, the same lack of detail about how to deliver goals is also present in the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which has emerged as a location for discussions about advancing net zero by financial institutions representing $130 trillion in assets. It is yet unclear whether or how it can lead to short- to medium-term concrete, transparent, verifiable, and significant investments to deliver net zero.

Third, the lack of immediate significant progress in climate finance for mitigation and adaptation from developed country governments was, in my view, a major missed opportunity to build trust and credibility and to advance climate justice. Industrialized countries pledged in 2009 to deliver $100$ billion in climate finance by 2020 and this has not yet been delivered. This pledge should not just be met as quickly as possible (it may happen in 2022), but governments should go beyond the $100 billion.

Statements and views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Harvard University, the Harvard Kennedy School, or the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Anadon, Laura."COP26 Takeaways: Statement from Laura Diaz Anadon." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, November 18, 2021.

The Author

Laura Diaz Anadon