Much has changed since the last COP25 in Madrid in December 2019. Now the global efforts to confront the climate crisis are taking place in an environment radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have also seen how the climate crisis has worsened, with severe impacts all around the world and in Europe in the form of heavy rainstorms, floods, heatwaves and fires. Scientific reports have made it clear that the worst is yet to come unless we take climate action and make immediate, ambitious and concrete progress in tackling the climate crisis.
During the last two years, the EU has been consistent in showing its commitment to become a climate leader, not only by setting ambitious goals, but also translating them into legislation to be climate neutral by 2050 at the latest.
We now have the European Green Deal, the Climate Law and the Fit for 55 package. Other countries and continents have also taken steps in the right direction, such as China’s pledge to reach carbon neutrality before 2060, or the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement and its commitment to aim for net zero emissions by 2050.
However, we need to ensure that these commitments are translated into concrete steps and policies and supported by meaningful international commitment and cooperation.
A positive progress in this sense would be that the EU and all the G20 countries went one-step ahead and committed to climate neutrality by 2050, pushing global climate action by raising both short-term and long-term ambition.
The G20 commitment should be accompanied by updated National Determined Contributions (NDCs) that put us on the right path to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement to limit global average temperature to well below 2C above preindustrial levels, and ideally to 1.5C.
"This COP26 should plant the seeds and lay the foundations of a global green recovery, accelerating the abandonment of our dependence on fossil fuels and pushing forward a climate agenda that goes hand in hand with a just and social transition"
According to the UN Environment Programme’s 2020 emissions gap report, current NDCs will result in global warming of more than 3C, therefore it is crucial that COP26 is successful in closing the ambition gap between where we are, and we need to be.
We also must remind ourselves of the importance of climate finance, as many developing countries have conditional NDCs, the achievement of which depends on financial support.
In that sense, it is indispensable to progress on the current commitment to mobilise $100bn per year as of 2020, and as decided at COP24, that we set a more ambitious target from 2025 onwards.
Other urgent issues to be addressed in Glasgow include the need to resolve the outstanding points in the Paris Agreement work programme, on transparency, common timeframes and cooperative mechanisms under Article 6, so we can focus the upcoming years on the further development and strengthening of its implementation and operationalisation.
From an EU perspective, this year’s COP26 in Glasgow should be an opportunity for European leadership to stand out, showing the world that strengthening the commitments within the Paris Agreement can, and must, go hand in hand with a green global recovery.
The Coronavirus crisis has taught what humanity is capable of with collective will and the capacity to mobilise resources.
This COP26 should plant the seeds and lay the foundations of a global green recovery, accelerating the abandonment of our dependence on fossil fuels and pushing forward a climate agenda that goes hand in hand with a just and social transition.