COP26 Update: What all has happened so far?

News

(KXAN) — It’s been a full week since the Conference of Parties (COP) began for its 26th annual meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. There’s been a lot of buzz around this particular meeting since it is also the first time the conference is meeting since the signing of the Paris Climate Accord during COP21.

Pledges

Some of the biggest news to come from the conference has been India’s pledge to produce half of its electricity with renewables by 2030 and to become net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. While many argue that may not be enough, India is one of the world’s largest polluters, and it’s the second most populous country in the world with 1.4 billion people, it’s a step in the right direction.

Forestry

One of the more impressive agreements thus far from COP26 came last Tuesday when over 100 countries vowed to end deforestation by 2030. According to The Guardian, it is said that the current rate of global deforestation is around 30 football pitches every minute. Forests are some of the worlds’ best carbon sinks, which is a term used to describe an area that absorbs large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

The countries involved in the pledge include Canada, Brazil, Russia, China, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the US and the UK – and make up about 85% of the world’s forests. (See the full list of countries who pledged to end deforestation here.)

Unlike a previous failed international agreement to slow deforestation made in 2014, this pledge is backed by nearly $20 billion in public and private funds.

Methane

According to the EPA, methane (CH4) is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide (CO2) at trapping heat in the atmosphere. So while more CO2 is emitted in the atmosphere than CH4, CH4 does more damage in smaller doses than CO2.

This is why the United States and the European Union signed the Global Methane Pledge which aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels, BBC News reports. The group of about 90 countries that make up about two thirds of the global economy, again, is a step in the right direction. However, major methane emitters like Russia, China and India did not sign.

Coal

Another bittersweet agreement to come from COP26 thus far, is the pledge to transition away from unabated coal power generation. However, yet again, while some countries signed the pledge (over 40 nations), the world’s largest emitters of CO2 did not sign. This does include Australia, India, China and disappointingly the United States.

What’s Next?

There is still less than one week left in the summit. More agreements and updates to the Paris Climate Accord are all possible before COP26 comes to an end.

Former president Barack Obama spoke in Glasgow at COP26 on Monday. Obama was in office in 2015 during COP21 when the Paris Climate Accord was initiated. His speech was directed at younger generations calling on them to “stay angry” and that “time really is running out” to make changes.

It’s worth noting that over 100,000 people marched through the streets of Glasgow on Friday demanding more action from their constituents at COP26.

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