We have now finished day 2 of the World Leaders Summit at the COP26 conference. This has already delivered several important announcements and pledges from world leaders, relating to climate change.
World Leaders Gather after Day One of the Summit
Source: Sky News
In the following bullet points, we summarise some of the key announcements made so far:
● Just a week prior to the conference India had declined to set any targets for reaching Net Zero. However, it has since been announced early into the COP26 event that India will target Net Zero by 2070[i]. Significantly, the nation has also announced a target to source 50% of its energy from renewable resources by 2030, as well as reducing the carbon intensity of the nation’s economy (the amount of goods produced per unit of energy) by 45% by 2030.
India is aiming for a reduction in annual carbon emissions of one billion tonnes per annum by the end of this decade. It is worth noting that India is currently the fourth largest emitter of Carbon Dioxide, behind China, the US, and the EU.
● More than 100 countries have signed up to cutting emissions of methane by 3% from 2020 levels, with this targeted to happen by 2030. Termed “The Global Methane Pledge'' signatories represent countries which account for nearly half of global methane emissions and 70% of global GDP[ii]. Importantly, one of the 5 biggest contributors to Methane emissions, Brazil, has signed the agreement, whilst Australia declined to back the pledge, and China, Russia and India have not signed up.
Globally, agriculture is the largest contributor to methane emissions, with much of this contributed by livestock, however rice production is also a large methane contributor. Fugitive emissions (the unintentional leaks of gas from processes such as fracking, and more traditional oil and gas extraction and transportation) also produce a significant amount of methane.
Global Methane Emissions, by Sector
Source: Our World in Data
● Deforestation was also hot on the agenda, with over 100 national leaders subscribing to a pledge to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by the end of the decade. Such measures are vital, given that (as reported by the World Resources Institute) forests absorb almost 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions. Yet the world lost 258,000 square km of forest in 2020 alone (20 million hectares).
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was quoted as saying:
"We will have a chance to end humanity's long history as nature's conqueror, and instead become its custodian."[iii]
The pledge aims to restore at least 200 million hectares of forest and other ecosystems by 2030; to put this into context this equates to an area slightly larger than Mexico (196 million hectares). According to Reuters, “under the agreement, 12 countries including Britain have pledged to provide 8.75 billion pounds ($12 billion) of public funding between 2021 and 2025 to help developing countries, including in efforts to restore degraded land and tackle wildfires”[iv] a further £5.3 billion at least would be provided by private sector investors.
Brazil’s CO2 emissions rose 9.5% year-on-year in 2020, despite the global average being -7%. This has been linked to the rise in deforestation
Source: Irish Times