Every year, for nearly three decades the United Nations (UN), via the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC) brings together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called Conference of Parties (COPs) to make decisions on stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the earth from the threat of climate change.
Since the launching of the Conference of Parties (COPs), climate change has evolved from being a periphery issue to being of utmost urgency. At this point, there is no denying the reality that climate change is here– from drought, heatwaves, to unpredictable rainfall patterns and dwindling crop yield, people around the world and disproportionately in developing countries such as Nigeria are living this reality.
For the first time since the global summits on climate change began, all the nations agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and provide resources to vulnerable, developing countries to build resilience and adapt at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) held in Paris (2015). At this Conference of Parties, the popular Paris Agreement was born.
The Paris Agreement, is a legally binding international treaty on climate change, adopted by 196 parties at COP21 in Paris and entered into force in November 2016. The Paris Agreement covers global climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance plans, and its implementation relies on countries localizing the global plan. Each country is committed to creating Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) specific to a country’s strategy to combat climate change and adapt to the imploding crisis. Parties to the Paris Agreement set and report on a 5- year cycle of increasingly ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions while the global plan remains to keep emission levels at 1.5 degrees Celsius
Targets of the Paris Agreement
Mitigation Plan: Aims to Reduce Emissions
- Limit temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably at 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible
- Achieve a balance between anthropogenic emission by sources and removal by sinks in the second half of century.
Adaptation Plan: Aims to strengthen resilience to the impact of climate change and reduce vulnerability
- Strengthen communities’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change
- Provide sustained and enhanced international support for adaptation to developing countries
26th Conference of Parties (COP26)
Since ratifying the Paris Agreement, parties have failed to finalize the rule book and reach more specific agreements on how to tackle climate change. Commitments of Governments have been questioned by climate activists, civil society groups and scientists as they do not come close to limiting emissions and global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Coming at the back of the COVID 19 pandemic, and more intense change in climate, COP26 is cloaked with a veil of desperation. Beyond the feeble commitments from previous summits, Nations need to reach cogent agreement and begin decisive implementation of strategies if we are to mitigate the climate crisis.
Here are 6 key things that COP26 must deliver;
- Finalize the rule book to make the Paris Agreement operational
- Secure more ambitious emission reduction targets for developed countries
- accelerate the phase-out of coal
- curtail deforestation
- speed up the switch to electric vehicles
- encourage investment in renewables.
- Secure commitment to strengthen the adaptive capacities of communities and the ecosystem
- protect and restore ecosystems
- build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives
- Get developed countries to keep their commitment of minimum 100 billion USD in climate finance per year by 2020
- Disclose and track progress on environmental action to manage risk across the globe
- Get commitment of international financial institutions to align with the global climate action plan and transition to a net-zero economy
Climate change is a global crisis that has the potential to drive millions into extreme poverty, worsen displacement and insecurity. It is beyond an environmental challenge, it threatens our lives as we know it and it is paramount that we demand action from global leaders as the window for mitigation narrows.
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