The Glasgow 2020 event could be key to the fight against climate change—but the UK needs to make sure it does its partby William Nicolle / October 1, 2019 / Leave a comment
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that the United Kingdom and Italy’s joint bid to host the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was successful. Known as the UNFCCC COP26, the meeting that will be held in November and bring together 30,000 delegates to discuss future international frameworks, commitments, and strategies to reduce global greenhouse emissions.
There is a lot of optimism around COP26 because it is being branded as the ground on which to build upon the work achieved at the 2015 Paris summit where ambitious national emission reduction commitments were made by many countries.
In the intervening years, however, the ‘Paris Agreement’ failed to fully cement those commitments for two reasons: First, the commitments were voluntary and non-binding. Second, there was little agreement on how they should be achieved.
With the IPCC warning that we are due to exceed the ‘safe’ level of warming of 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels by 2030, the need to not only reduce emissions but also adapt to the realities of a changing climate is becoming urgently more important.
COP26 is an opportunity for the UK to take a lead and build on past achievements, especially given that with current policies climate change is on track for 3 degrees Celsius (oC) of warming—above the 2oC warming ceiling agreed at Paris.
So how might this be achieved?
Three core areas
To capitalise on the opportunity of hosting this high-level climate summit, the UK needs to focus on and promote three core areas in the runup to and at COP26: diplomacy, climate adaptation and resilience, and market-based emission abatement policies.
First, before the summit opens its doors, the UK needs to focus on establishing effective dialogue and diplomacy between parties. The main sticking points of international climate diplomacy are well known. There are tensions between so-called ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ countries over financial and technological flows in aid of decarbonisation, and debates over how best to support those most vulnerable to climate risks, such as island nations.
The participation of China, India and—most importantly—the US, in any future multilateral agreements must also be handled carefully.
With significant political uncertainty at home in the UK—including over whom will be in government come next November—many are questioning whether the UK is stable enough to act as a diplomatic facilitator ahead…