What has happened at COP26?

Find out how objectives have been addressed by world leaders.

After two weeks of unexpected promises and agreements by world leaders, there is still a lack of major initiatives and consensus.

The end of COP26 has brought us conflicting opinions about its effectiveness. After two weeks of unexpected promises and agreements by world leaders, there is still a lack of major initiatives and consensus.

Countries have committed to achieving the main pre-established COP26 objectives, such as keeping the temperature increase below 1.5ºC. However, according to the draft submitted to the United Nations, emissions will be 14% above 2030 targets. Moreover, scientists warn that we are still on track to reach a temperature increase of 2.4°C by 2100.

In this post, we have summarized the main pre-established objectives set by the UN for the COP, and how they have been addressed by world leaders.

Objective 1 – Secure a global net-zero and keep 1.5ºC within reach

The first objective is planned to be achieved through the following actions: accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed the switch to electric vehicles, and encourage investments in renewables. How have world leaders addressed this objective?

Accelerate the phase-out of coal

  • The good

For the first time in a COP summit, a pledge to phase out coal and fossil fuels has been signed.

More than 40 countries have committed to abandoning coal.

Signatories have agreed to end all investments in new coal power generation at national and international levels.

  • The bad

Some of the most coal-dependent countries, such as China and the United States, have not signed the pledge.

Major investments shall be made to support such commitments.

Reduce deforestation

  • The good

More than 100 world leaders have committed to reforestation through $19.2bn public and private funds.

This commitment is backed by Brazil, one of the countries that have extensively deforested the Amazon rainforest in recent years.  

  • The bad

This is not the first international agreement to slow down deforestation. Another agreement was signed in 2014 by 40 governments, which did not succeed in slowing down deforestation.

In order to reverse deforestation, signatories will need to take corrective action in the short term, aligning their national policies with the target.

Switch to electric vehicles

  • The good

100 countries and organizations have agreed to stop all fossil-fuel-based cars and vans before 2040, and by 2035 in leading countries.

  • The bad

Some of the countries with the biggest automotive industries have not signed the pledge such as the US, China, or Japan.

Encourage investment in renewables

  • The good

The Global Energy Alliance for the People and the Planet (GEAPP) will invest more than $10 billion in the transition to renewables.

  • The bad

Debates led by France and Germany have been held around the effectiveness of qualifying nuclear energy as a green investment.

Reduce methane emissions

This is an additional agreement to the pre-established objectives.

  • The good

By 2030, 100 countries have pledged to reduce methane emissions by 30%. These countries account for 50% of current methane emissions and would achieve a 0.2°C reduction in global warming.

  • The bad

Some of the biggest methane producers have not signed the pledge such as China, Russia, or India.

Objective 2: adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

The second goal of COP26 is planned to be achieved by: protecting and restoring ecosystems, building defenses and warning systems, creating infrastructure, and investing in resilient agriculture. These have been the major agreements.

Protect and restore ecosystems
  • The good

An investment of $19.2 billion has been agreed upon to restore ecosystems, which will restore degraded land and tackle wildfires.

Countries that host the largest tropical forests such as Brazil and China have signed the agreement.

Further commitments by financial institutions have been made to keep deforestation out of investment portfolios.

  • The bad

Scientists fear that the destruction of the Amazon could soon reach a point of no return. Action must be taken fast.

Objective 3: mobilise finance

It was already agreed in 2009 to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year to help developing countries achieve their targets. This objective should have already been achieved by 2020. So, how are countries planning to achieve the objective this year?

Mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance
  • The good

Capital availability from 450 firms and 45 countries to reach Net Zero targets.

Commitment has been reached to mobilise large amounts of private investment around the world to tackle climate change.

  • The bad

There are concerns about the lack of real, tangible commitments, as previous COPs have shown.

Objective 4: work together to deliver

Collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society is essential to reach climate targets. It is much more efficient in the long run to establish similar strategies and frameworks across borders and industries than adopting different approaches. What is the fashion industry doing to achieve this common objective?

Collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society
  • The good

More than 130 companies and 40 organisations linked to the fashion industry have pledged to cut emissions in their activities by 50% by 2030.

  • The bad

These commitments are non-binding. A goal to reduce emissions by 30% had already been established in 2019, and emissions have not decreased in the last three years.

Although contrasting views do exist around these targets, we want to believe that it is possible and that collective and intersectoral action will help us tackle our climate crisis.

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