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COP26 is over. What’s Next?

November 12, 2021

The manifold pledges made during the last United Nations’ high-profile climate conference have taken the news headlines during the past two weeks. After successive political speeches and a myriad of critics pointing out empty calls, COP 26 has come to an end this weekend as one of the most ebullient negotiations editions. 

The summit took place with the tall claim of raising ambitions. Some encouraging global alliances came out: 

More than 100 countries, led by the United States and the European Union, have agreed to reduce methane gas emissions by 30% by 2030. And leaders from over 120 countries, representing about 90% of the world’s forests, pledged to curb all illegal deforestation by 2030. 

Also, 40 countries have agreed to stop funding new coal-fired projects. And the main emitters of greenhouse gases on the planet — the United States and China — have announced an unexpected agreement to commit to working together against the release of carbon into the atmosphere. The US pledge to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, while China intends to “gradually” reduce its coal consumption from 2026.

Smaller but inspiring commitments were made: 11 countries, including Ireland, France, Denmark, and Costa Rica launched a first-of-its-kind coalition to set an end date for national oil and gas exploration and extraction — the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA).

Environmentalists welcomed the announcements but demanded even more engagement from all leaders — pushing real actions beyond political agreements.

The outcome document — the Glasgow Climate Pact — demanded an extra day of negotiations, and, according to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “reflects the interests, the contradictions, and the state of political will in the world today”. In other words, the paper calls on nearly 200 countries to report their progress towards more climate ambition at COP27, set to take place in Egypt next year.

Meanwhile, young people, indigenous communities, women’s groups, cities, the private sector, and all those leading the charge on climate issues will have to continue going some steps ahead. And showing with their innovative ideas, cultural events, and partnerships that climate action struggle requires all hands on deck.

By Nathalia Toledo