The United Kingdom (UK) hosted the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021. South Africa is a party to COP26. The main aim of the conference was to try to finalise the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement of 2015, to reach an agreement on common time-frames for the frequency of revision and monitoring of each party's climate commitments. So, while the Paris Agreement sets the goals and pledges, in order to limit global warming to well below two degrees, (ideally 1.5), Glasgow, is seen as the last chance to implement and make the achievements of these targets a reality.
The main aims of COP26 can be summarised as follows:
- To secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- To accelerate the phase-out of coal, curb deforestation and switch to greener economies.
- To pledge to cut emissions of methane - the most potent greenhouse gas - by at least 30% this decade.
- Adapt more to protect communities and natural habitats
- To protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure.
- More than 100 nations agreed to end deforestation by 2030.
- Mobilise finance
- At COP15, rich nations promised to channel $100 billion per year to less-wealthy nations by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate the further rise in temperatures.
- At COP26, South Africa was offered a R131 billion pledge to manage its transition from coal to renewable energy sources, and a low carbon economy. The USA, UK, France and Germany offered to provide the capital over the next three to five years through grants and concessional finance. Although not finalised yet, Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan has stated that the funding will not go towards addressing Eskom's debt but part of it will be used to Eskom's just energy transition. Other projects requiring funding in South Africa is the green hydrogen project and the production of electric vehicles in South Africa.
- Work together to deliver
- Establishing collaborations between governments, businesses and civil society and finalising the "Paris Rulebook" to make the Paris Agreement fully operational.
The world is teetering on a knife-edge, let’s hope that the powers that be lead us responsibly into a greener world.
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