COP26: Challenges, opportunities & implications

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Main takeaways: 

  • Before COP leaders raise emissions ambition to narrow the gap to 1.5C & agree  to a global finance package to support it. 
  • The window of opportunity to limit the permanent temperature increase of 1.5  Degrees is closing and the COP in Glasgow is the moment when countries  update their plans for reducing emissions. At COP negotiators strike political  agreements to accelerate Paris Agreement pathways to keep 1.5C in reach &  address adaptation/loss & damage 
  • Likeminded young professionals need to gather to deepen the intricate panorama  surrounding climate policies in the community. National and global level. Only  through constructive dialogue climate targets will be achieved. 

On October 5, 2021 YPFP Brussels hosted an event with Tom Evans, a Researcher in E3G  Geopolitics and Diplomacy London on the priorities of COP26, the main challenges and  opportunities of the this COP and possible implication on EU climate policies after the  outcome of the COP. The event took place following the Chatham House rules and was  moderated by YPFP Brussels Program Officer, Sophia Giovanett. 

The event started with a presentation of Tom about the COP26 priorities and the context: he  presented the state of play of climate policies in summer 2021 and important dynamics on an  international political level that will shape the outcome of the COP. He explained the state of  play of COP26 in a 5 year context and what is expected until 2030. Finally, he discussed the  challenges and priorities to keep the 1.5 degrees ambition alive.  

The discussion was opened by a dialogue between the moderator and Tom Evans where the  priorities of the COP26 were discussed in more detail such as the question: if considering the  IPCC 6th Assessment that was published in August, what are the main actions and decisions  that need to be made at the COP? What are the main challenges in the process? What is the  expected outcome? Who are the main stakeholders that need to be addressed and  committed? During the discussion the participants posed more detailed questions to the  speaker and he explained that the only clear success scenario requires building the coalition 

for a political outcome that accelerates action to close the gap to “safe” levels of warming  (increasingly linked in public and vulnerable country understandings to 1.5C). But this  requires significant North-South outreach and delivery on solidarity concerns by UNGA to  have a chance to change dynamics. Mismatched expectations are a major risk – strategic  communications to build the public narrative around the Glasgow Package will be key.  Fragmented leadership is the biggest risk. Without coordinated diplomacy within and  between climate progressive countries and blocs, diplomacy risks being unable to effectively  shift the political dynamics. No high ambition COP26 without step change in solidarity. Hot button issues such as net zero, carbon markets and non-state actor commitments risks  undermining legitimacy in COP26 if mishandled and perceived to be covered for low  ambition. At the same time, whilst important, the nature agenda has not cut through in 2021,  leaving it insufficient to secure a high ambition outcome. 


Written by Sophia Giovanett, Programmes Officer, YPFP Brussels