Another dispatch from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from Seven Generations Ahead founder Gary Cuneen, who is attending:
Climate adaptation financing for developing countries is a big topic on the agenda for COP26. The 2021 Production Gap Report, by leading research institutes and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), finds that despite increased climate ambitions and net-zero commitments, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
The report measures the gap between governments’ planned production of coal, oil and gas and the global production levels consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement temperature limits. Two years after the 2019 report, the 2021 report finds the production gap largely unchanged. Over the next two decades, governments are collectively projecting an increase in global oil and gas production, and only a modest decrease in coal production. Taken together, their plans and projections see global, total fossil fuel production increasing to at least 2040, creating an ever-widening production gap.
On the positive side … COP26 President Alok Sharma said:
“From the start of the UK’s presidency, we have been clear that COP26 must be the COP that consigns coal to history. With these ambitious commitments we are seeing today, the end of coal power is now within sight.”
The Powering Past Coal Coalition (PPCC) is securing commitments from governments and the private sector to phase out existing unabated coal power; encourage a global moratorium on the construction of new unabated coal-fired power plants; shift investment from coal to clean energy, including by working to restrict financing for coal-fired projects; and achieve coal phase-out in a sustainable and economically inclusive way, including appropriate support for workers and communities. The PPCC has over 100 members (countries and sub-country jurisdictions). At least 23 countries have made new commitments today to phase out coal power, including five of the world’s top 20 coal power-using countries. Major international banks are committing to effectively end all international public financing of new unabated coal power by the end of 2021.
I attended a session today in which U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (first indigenous person cabinet member), IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera, and Denmark Ambassador Christensen discussed goal targets for global off-shore wind development and strategies for engaging other countries. La Camera estimates that we will need to install 380 gigawatts of off-shore wind by 2030 and 2000 gigawatts by 2040 to meet Paris Accord ghg reduction goal targets. The U.S. is shooting for 30 gigawatts by 2030, creating a $1.9 billion revenue opportunity for the private sector and adding to the 1.25 million jobs already established in the global wind industry. Denmark — the leader in off-shore wind — has a broader 70% ghg reduction goal target by 2030, and already has achieved 52% through wind and solar investments. Denmark has also decided to end oil and gas exploration off-shore. Their partnership with 19 countries — including a focus on developing nations — is designed to share expertise and support capital development for off-shore wind projects.
I sat today in two hours of negotiations on Article 6 (establishing an International Carbon Market) with country representatives across the world. Much of the negotiations centered on wording within Article 6.8 (non-market approaches) and 6.4 (central UN mechanism to trade credits). Article 6 of the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gases enables countries to cooperate in implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) toward emission reduction. Among other things, this means that emission reductions can be transferred between countries and counted toward NDCs.
International carbon markets work like this: Countries that struggle to meet their emissions-reduction targets under their national climate plans, or want to pursue less expensive emissions cuts, can purchase emissions reductions from other nations that have already cut their emissions more than the amount they had pledged, such as by transitioning to renewable energy.
A number of ambitious emissions reductions targets were announced by the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action Framework (S4CA) today. These include reaching Net Zero by 2040 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2030 at the latest. Signatories, including the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, Athletics Kenya, BBC Sport, the Premier League, Formula E and Munster Rugby, have signed up for these new targets. In addition, signatories commit to submitting plans to outline concrete actions that will be taken to implement 2030 targets as well as report on overall progress with commitments on an annual basis.
Finance ministers are in Glasgow to discuss mobilizing funding for rapid, large-scale climate action. COP26 President Alok Sharma said: “Today, there is more public and private finance for climate action than ever before.”
Gary Cuneen is director of Seven Generations Ahead, an Oak Park-based environmental nonprofit which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.