Comment: Six months until COP26

Published:30 April 2021

Commenting on the milestone of six months until the opening of the COP26 climate summit, Gareth Redmond-King, COP26 Communications and Engagement Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “President Biden’s Leaders’ Summit fired the starting pistol on ramping up climate action. With only six months left before COP26 in Glasgow, it’s now time to sprint. And with barely six weeks until the UK hosts G7 leaders in Cornwall, Rishi Sunak will be expected to be at the front of the field.

“He has his work cut out to ensure finance Ministers deliver on promises to help poorer and less-developed countries cope with combined pressures of climate impacts, climate action and Covid recovery. Wealthy nations pledged $100bn a year in climate finance by last year, and poorer nations will look to them to work with other international donors and private finance to offer further debt relief too.

“Boris Johnson, and Dominic Raab will also be expected to step up and capitalise on momentum from new pledges made at the US summit, and the credibility afforded by the UK’s own bold climate commitments, to lead others to stronger climate action, and momentum to COP26 in November.”

Dr Camilla Toulmin, Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), said: “With just six months to go until COP26, it is clear that there is an urgent need to focus on the priorities for this summit.

“More ambitious emission reduction pledges are vital, but so too is support for developing countries, without which the UK’s hopes of hosting a successful summit will surely flounder. We must remember that these countries now face the duel threats of climate change and Covid-19, leaving them, as Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister said at the recent US climate summit, “teetering on the edge of despair”.

“Making good on existing climate finance pledges is essential, but so too now is support for Covid and debt relief, issues fast becoming inextricably linked to the climate crisis. This is where Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak have a critical role to play, as hosts not just of the COP, but also of G7 leaders and finance minsters meetings in June. They must start to deliver a serious and sustained focus on these issues; flippant comments about bunny-hugging simply won’t cut it anymore.”

Richard Black, Senior Associate at ECIU, said: "Within the last eight months China, the EU and US, representing half of global emissions and global GDP, have all committed to reaching net zero emissions by mid-century.

"Combined with real-economy changes that mean clean energy is often now cheaper than fossil fuels, this shows there is a real opportunity to make a historic pact in Glasgow that will ultimately keep climate change within safe limits.

"But it won't happen by itself. For the UK government, the urgent need is to broker acceleration on ambitious NDCs, dynamic real-economy agreements and finance for the poorest, all of which are essential for a successful summit."

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