COP26: in Glasgow, a climate summit to remobilize the planet


Five years after the Paris agreement, the commitments made by the countries are still largely insufficient to meet the objective of limiting warming below 1.5 ° C.

The 26e World climate conference (COP26) will open Sunday in Glasgow in a difficult context. Postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is the most anticipated meeting since the Paris agreement concluded at the end of the COP21 in 2015. It was then set as an ambitious goal limit to a level well below 2 ° C, preferably 1.5 ° C, the warming of the planet compared to its pre-industrial level.

Each State was then called upon to define its own objectives in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (the famous “nationally determined contributions” or CDN) and to update them every five years. After a series of “conferences of the parties” already forgotten, COP26 must mark the end of a first cycle and the beginning of a new one. More than 120 leaders (President Emmanuel Macron will be there on Monday, as well as the American Joe Biden or the Indian Narendra Modi), delegations, companies, experts, activists and media from all over the world, will be gathered under the British presidency. who showed their intention to make the event a diplomatic success.

Carbon neutral

There is some bread on a wooden board. For the moment, the world is still far from a trajectory that would make it possible to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, a prerequisite however essential to hope to limit warming below this threshold of 1.5 ° C. “When I see how far we are from where we should be, I am deeply concerned“Even assailed the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The United Nations Environment Program added another layer on Tuesday by announcing that countries’ current greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments should be more than seven times more ambitious to hope to achieve this goal.

To date, only three-quarters of countries (which together account for just over half of global emissions) have sent their CDN updates. As the world’s largest emitter, China certainly swelled the ranks of this list on Thursday by submitting new climate commitments, but it is in reality only a reformulation of objectives already announced, namely to reach a peak in emissions. “before 2030“And carbon neutrality”before 2060“. Like his Russian counterpart Vladimir Poutine, the Chinese president has also decided to snub the COP. He will not participate in the G20 which is taking place this weekend in Italy, where the climate is also the order of the day.

Monster fires

At this rate, current greenhouse gas emissions are expected to grow by 16% by 2030, while they should, on the contrary, fall by 45% to meet the target set by the Paris Agreement. Instead, the world is heading for a warming of at least + 2.7 ° C. “A one-way ticket to disaster», Sums up Antonio Guterres. Monster fires in California, unprecedented heatwave in Canada, spectacular floods in Germany or Belgium… The past year has once again illustrated the extent of the emergency. Scientists hammer home that every fraction of a degree further will amplify the frequency and magnitude of disasters.

It is therefore urgent to re-mobilize the world on the climate issue. Among the major issues that will be on the table, the issue of climate finance will undoubtedly be the most explosive. In 2009, the richest countries pledged to pay $ 100 billion a year until 2025 to developing countries, to help them both reduce their emissions and adapt to the consequences of change. climatic (repeated droughts, coastal erosion, etc.). But the promise was not kept: aid reached only 79.6 billion in 2019, according to the latest figures published by the OECD, which predicts that the 100 billion will not be reached until 2023. States -Unis have certainly taken a big step forward by announcing to double their commitment (11.4 billion dollars in 2024) but the issue is likely to crystallize the tensions between the North and the South which have meanwhile been accentuated by inequalities access to the anti-Covid vaccine. Not considering “this health crisis has revealed the capacity of rich countries to mobilize billions and billions for their economy», Recalls Pierre Cannet of the NGO WWF.

Paris Agreement

How to better supervise climate finance? How can we help the most vulnerable countries to cope with climate change more effectively? Should we give more? “The 100 billion will take up a lot of discussion time“, Predicts Lola Vallejo, director of the climate program at IDDRI. This COP is also supposed to define the more concrete instructions for use of the Paris agreement, in particular on questions of transparency in the evaluation of the commitments of each party, or on the functioning of carbon markets.

Make COP26 a success “will certainly not be easy“, Thus estimated Patricia Espinosa, the climate manager of the UN, but to leave this summit with a”message of hope” is a “absolute necessity“. If the signals are far from positive, a milestone has been crossed since COP21: the fight against global warming remains one of the only subjects on which the world still manages to come together around a table.

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