abrdn’s Cairns: “the goal of ‘keeping 1.5C alive’ as a result of COP26 is extremely unlikely”

abrdn's Eva Cairns.

Eva Cairns, Head of Climate Change at abrdn, comments:

“The first week of COP26 has delivered some positive announcements on decarbonisation (covering 85% of forests including Brazil which is encouraging), reduction of methane emissions (albeit without Russia, China and India) and access to clean energy by 2030.

“However, there was little detail on clear action plans to achieve goals and no legally binding enforcement mechanisms. India’s Net Zero 2070 commitment is the most important country level upgrade. Modelling based on latest pledges suggests that over 90% of GDP is now covered by net zero pledges and if implemented, would limit warming to 1.9C. But in our view, concrete policy commitments lack credibility for many of the net zero pledges we have seen. We need action plans to half emissions by 2030 and not just provide vague longer-term ambitions.

“This also applies to the $130tn pledged to net zero 2050 by the financial community on Finance Day. Discussions on the climate finance promise of $100bn to the developing world are in progress and expected to be delivered by 2022 based on increased commitments from Japan. Much more is needed to reflect the obligation of the developed world to help mitigation and adaptation in the developing world. It was disappointing that China as the world’s largest emitter (27% of global emissions) and Russia were not represented in person.

“In summary, it is critical to pay attention to what governments do and not what they say, and while we expect a major energy transition to happen, the goal of ‘keeping 1.5C alive’ as a result of COP26 is extremely unlikely.”

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