Stew Horne, Head of Policy, Energy Saving Trust
The final COP26 agreement demonstrates some progress, with fossil fuels being addressed for the first time and a mutual acknowledgment of the severity of climate change.
The pledges and commitments announced during the past two weeks addressing the phase out of coal, the transition to zero emission vehicles, increased finance to support clean energy access in developing countries and an end to deforestation, were encouraging.
However even with a commitment to revisit and strengthen national plans by the end of 2022, we cannot ignore the fact that despite the progress shown in the final agreement, emissions are projected to exceed the levels needed to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C.
Questions remain about how nations who are at the most direct risk of the effects of climate change will be supported to fund climate adaptation. Groups such as women and girls, people with disabilities and displaced people will be particularly affected. More needs to be done to accelerate a just and inclusive clean energy transition and ensure that vulnerable communities across the globe can build climate resilience and withstand external shocks.
Although coal and fossil fuel subsidies were explicitly referred to in the text for the first time, the commitments do not go far enough. The final agreement needed to lay out clear plans for action at international and national levels, with more decisive commitments to reducing reliance on and phasing out use of fossil fuels.
In transport, we are motivated by the outcomes of COP26, which have demonstrated significant progress with commitments to electrification, zero emission HGVs and incentives to encourage active travel, as well as innovation to support the decarbonisation of rail, marine and aviation. There is significant work to be done to turn this ambition into action and we remain committed to the decarbonisation of transport.
While we are pleased that countries will be meeting sooner than the previous five-year schedule, the time to act is now. If we don’t, and if countries wait another year to strengthen climate targets, the ramifications for the world we live in will be devastating.
COP26 is just the beginning of efforts to address climate change. The collaboration that has been such a defining factor of the summit must continue into what is a critical decade ahead and our last chance to mitigate climate change.
For Energy Saving Trust, the discussions and outcomes have highlighted the importance of the national and international work we do with households, governments and businesses to save energy and reduce carbon emissions. We are working harder and faster in our mission to address the climate emergency.
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