Nov 4, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The 3 most important wins from COP26 so far

Illustration of an award ribbon with Earth in center

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

This will not be a historic year for making progress on addressing climate change — it can't be, with the Chinese premier Xi Jinping refusing to make new pledges and not even showing up at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. But that doesn't mean the summit was a wash.

Why it matters: Substantial progress has already been made at this year's summit; it's worth taking a minute to celebrate three of the most important wins for the planet.

  1. The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a group of private-sector investors, launched in April with $5 trillion committed to "achieving net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest." That number has already ballooned to $130 trillion — enough for the private sector to be able to play its part in getting the world to net zero, per the alliance.
  2. More than 100 countries, including the U.S., have now signed the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to slash emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas by 2030, and which on its own could reduce warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
  3. Leaders representing more than 85% of the world's forests — even including Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro — pledged to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.

The bottom line: Promises can be broken — but they're also the only real hope for effective and lasting change. Now that the pledges are in place, they can be built on at future summits, and they can be used to shame those who fall short.

  • Fear of humiliation has proved to be a surprisingly effective tool when it comes to getting world leaders to stay true to their promises.

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