Summary of key outcomes of the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC – СОР 26 (Glasgow, October 31 – November 12, 2021) by Ukrainian Climate Network.
- Holding the increase in the global average temperature below 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels and revision of nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) with the aim of increasing ambitions in order to reach the goal.
The countries at COP26 have adopted a “Glasgow Climate Pact” – the concluding political decision of the conference. The document «requests» countries to «revisit and strengthen» their climate pledges by the end of 2022; urges to «phase down» coal power generation and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies; sets up processes towards delivering a global goal on adaptation, higher levels of climate finance and finance for loss and damage.
In the pact, the countries reiterated the commitment to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1,5 C, including reducing global CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2010 level.
Analysis of the current NDCs shows a significant gap between taken commitments and what is necessary to keep the global temperature increase below 1,5 degrees. If back in 2015 commitments led to 3,4 C increase, after updates in NDCs in 2020 and 2021 the world now is heading only towards 2,7 C increase. Thus, even the updated countries’ commitments are not sufficient.
2. Abandoning fossil fuels
The concluding document from Glasgow foresees the ramping of the efforts to reduce power generation from unabated coal [i.e. those that do not use Carbon Capture and Storage technologies] and the gradual phase down of the inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
And though for the first time coal is explicitly mentioned in the decisions, which became a notable progress indeed, the wording was criticized heavily, because it not only continues the coal era, but also leaves space for subsidizing it. Despite the fact that the call to move away from coal completely sounded until last. Furthermore, the space for the recognition of CCS technologies as means to make coal power a “climate-neutral” technology.
Finally, the need to abandon other fossil fuels, such as natural gas and oil, was not pointed out.
3. International initiatives joined by Ukraine at COP26 in Glasgow
In the frame of COP 26 Ukraine also has joined a number of important international initiatives and decorations, among which:
Global Methane Pledge – the initiative to reduce methane emissions.
The pledge foresees the cut in the global methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide in causing global warming and is second after CO2 on the scale of its contribution to climate change.
So far, Ukraine took no actions aimed to reduce methane emissions, despite that in 2019 methane accounted for 31% of GHG emissions in Ukraine. Therefore, the initiative is very important and must give an impulse to improve accounting and efforts on reduction of methane emissions in Ukraine.
Powering Past Coal Alliance
The Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) is a coalition of national and sub-national governments, businesses and organisations working to advance the transition from unabated coal power generation to clean energy. For Ukraine to join the alliance, it had to define the date for coal phase out. And Ukraine has announced that it will close all state-owned coal-fired power plants by 2035.
However, the declared goal does not align with plans of the private sector. Namely, the biggest private power producer in Ukraine, DTEK, which owns approximately 90% of coal mining and 75% of coal-fired power generation, has also joined the alliance. The company plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. But in such a context, the intention to reach carbon neutrality leaves space for interpretation and might mean not a coal phase-out, but, for example, reaching net-zero emissions by applying CCS.
That is why the optimism on the coal phase-out in Ukraine in the power sector is cautious. We are expecting the government to make moves in this direction.
The Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use
The Declaration calls to stop the deforestation practices, halt land degradation by 2030, conserve and restore natural land ecosystems and alter land use practices. The document provides for the allocation of international funding of $ 12 billion and private funding of $ 7.2 billion. Leaders of more than 30 global financial institutions are committed to stopping investment in deforestation activities. So now Ukraine must approve the Forest Strategy and take into account the commitments made.
This is the agenda proclaimed by the Glasgow breakthroughs:
Power: Clean power is the most affordable and reliable option for all countries to meet their power needs efficiently by 2030.
Road transport: Zero-emission vehicles are the new normal and accessible, affordable, and sustainable in all regions by 2030.
Steel: Near-zero emission steel is the preferred choice in global markets, with efficient use and near-zero emission steel production established and growing in every region by 2030.
Hydrogen: Affordable renewable and low carbon hydrogen is globally available by 2030.
Agriculture: Climate-resilient, sustainable agriculture is the most attractive and widely adopted option for farmers everywhere by 2030.
It is important to highlight that without proper domestic actions inside of the country, nice statements will remain words only. The next logical and urgent step is the approval of respective decisions by the government and development of plans to implement the declared intentions. In order to do it, it is necessary to fulfill the conditions of the Association Agreement and implement the EU Directive on industrial emissions 2010/75/EU and waste 2008/98/EU.
Having a long-term vision for development and implementation of local and national climate policies aimed to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change in all sectors of the economy is also important. Current legislation, plans and programs must align with long-term strategies and back up the commitments of coal phase-out, biodiversity protection and reaching carbon neutrality.
4. Article 6 of Paris agreement
Finally, the Glasgow conference reached the consensus on operationalisation of Article 6 of Paris agreement, which covers international cooperation, including carbon markets. The article contains three separate mechanisms of “cooperation on a voluntary basis” to reach climate goals and with an overall aim to increase ambitions. Two mechanisms are based on market approaches, and the third one is based on non-market approaches.
Article 6.2. Voluntary cooperative approaches
The Article 6.2 regulates the bilateral cooperation
Article 6.2 governs bilateral cooperation via “internationally traded mitigation outcomes” (so-called ITMOs), which could include emissions cuts measured in tonnes of CO2 or kilowatt hours of renewable electricity. In other words, a country can support emission reduction projects abroad and use the resulting credits towards its national NDC.
To participate in the mechanism a country has to prepare an initial report in which demonstrate how it meets the requirements, provide necessary details to clarify NDC, mechanisms of corresponding adjustments of national emission inventories, describe the voluntary cooperation program and other additional data. The information on issuance of carbon credits and their transfers has to be submitted annually.
When transferred to other countries or approved for other international use, the national carbon inventories have to be properly adjusted in order to avoid double counting.
Article 6.4 Mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development
The agreement in Glasgow on Article 6.4 will lead to the creation of a new international carbon market for the trade of emissions cuts, created by the public or private sector anywhere in the world.
The projects registered under Clean Development Mechanisms of Kyoto Protocol are allowed into Article 6.4 until 2025 only if they fulfill the criteria introduced by new methodologies.
In Glasgow, parties agreed to the “carryover” of carbon credits generated under the Clean Development mechanisms of Kyoto Protocol, registered since 2013. Experts assess the volume of “carryover” as up to 320m tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which might be used towards NDCs under the Paris agreement. More than 4bn credits might have been carried over if the transition had been unrestricted (i.e. allowed reductions from any Kyoto protocol projects). Moreover, the rules agreed in Glasgow have closed off the “double counting” of emissions cuts by two different countries or groups thanks to the introduction of corresponding adjustments of national emissions inventories in case emissions reduction units are transferred internationally.
The possibility of “carryover” of emission reduction units receives mixed reviews from civil society, because the units which will be carried over were not produced thanks to a deliberate emission reduction policy but due to the overall economic recession and restructuring.
The crediting period (i.e. the period over which it is possible to issue carbon credits) shall not start before 2021 and could last up to 10 year for emission reduction projects and slightly longer for carbon sequestration projects.
Five percent of money from traded offsets will go towards the Adaptation Fund to support climate change adaptation measures in developing countries; another 2% will be immediately cancelled to deliver overall mitigation. In addition, COP26 decided that adaptation finance from a “share of proceeds” of trade in emissions cuts would only be mandatory under Article 6.4, remaining voluntary elsewhere.
The activities under this mechanism will be controlled by a Supervisory body, consisting of representatives from 12 different countries. The newly created body will start its work in 2022 and have to develop the methodology and administration requirements for the market.
It is worth mentioning that introduction of the referred mechanisms at a state level will require developing new efficient legislation.
Article 6.8. Non-market approaches
Article 6.8 offers a formal framework for climate cooperation between countries, where no trade is involved, such as development aid.
The Glasgow Committee on non-market approaches has been established to advance progress in climate cooperation; the committee will meet twice a year until at least 2027.
5. Reporting emission reductions
All parties will have to submit five-year pledges every five years, starting with pledges in 2025 covering the period from 2031-2035.
The transparency rules are about ensuring countries report sufficient information to determine whether or not they are meeting their pledges, whether the world is on track to reach its climate targets, and, crucially, whether this information is reliable
Until 2021, only the countries that were identified as wealthy when the UNFCCC was established in 1992, including Ukraine, have to report regularly on their greenhouse gases. This created gaps in data and prevented understanding of the general picture of emissions.
Now all countries will have to report their emissions, progress towards their climate pledges and their contributions to climate finance, at least every two years. This is a positive outcome because for the carbon markets to function properly and lead to actual emission reductions all systems have to be aligned.
As part of the Paris Agreement, nations agreed that they would periodically monitor all the different aspects of climate action to ensure that the world was on course to achieving its warming targets. The Glasgow Climate Pact “welcomes the start of the global stocktake, and expresses its determination for the process to be comprehensive, inclusive and consistent”
According to these new rules, countries must submit their first “biennial transparency report” and “national inventory report” by the end of 2024, with small island developing states and the least developed countries allowed to do so “at their discretion”.
The application of similar rules and carbon emissions reporting forms for all countries, as well as conducting periodical stocktakes will reflect the actual state of global emissions and understand how much remains to be reduced.
6. Adaptation, loss and damage.
The Paris Agreement calls for a balance between different types of climate finance, but currently it is heavily skewed towards mitigation activities, such as renewable energy projects, which are often seen as better investments.
Glasgow Climate Pact states the need to increase ambitions and implement prevention measures and calls developed nations to “at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation”.
Another notable development at the conference was the first-ever addition of a “global goal on adaptation” to the agenda. The Glasgow Climate Pact calls parties to integrate adaptation policy into local, national and regional planning.
The working program on the global goal on adaptation was created. It will define the common needs and ways to address the climate crisis that already affects many countries.
The need for international support of vulnerable countries was reiterated, namely the reimbursement of loss and damage caused by such climate change impacts which are impossible to adapt to.
The issues on the access to funding on capacity development under Kyoto Protocol were reviewed in Glasgow, but Ukraine will keep the access to relevant programs and funding, also in the climate change adaptation field. However, civil society stresses that the field should not solely rely on foreign aid and private investments and that the state budget should include mandatory budget items on implementation of climate change adaptation measures.
It is important to note that the discussion on loss and damage does not exist in Ukraine, no damage caused by the climate crisis is accounted for, which makes it impossible to obtain reliable information on the state of the environment. Even if we can’t rely on international assistance in these matters, loss and damage caused by climate change is a major threat to basic needs and food security of vulnerable social groups, therefore the question should be included in the climate policy agenda of Ukraine.
At COP 26 it was mentioned that the available financing for adaptation measures is insufficient to address negative consequences of climate change, which only intensify over time. Therefore developed countries are urged to increase the amount of climate finances, technology transfer and capacity building related to adaptation in developing countries, including in the forming and implementing national adaptation plans and adaptation communications.
The commitment of developed nations to jointly raise the $100bn annual climate funding to support decarbonisation in developing countries was re-confirmed. The process to define a new global financing goal was started.
Developed nations were urged to “at least double their collective provision of climate finance for adaptation” for the developing countries from 2019 levels by 2025. Multilateral development banks, other financial institutions and the private sector were called upon to enhance finance mobilization in order to deliver the scale of resources needed to achieve climate goals, particularly for adaptation, and to explore innovative approaches and instruments for mobilizing finance for adaptation from private sources.
The issues with the difficulties to access climate funding for developing countries were noted, given that even existing pledges made by developed countries are not fulfilled. This is a significant problem because negative consequences and serious losses from climate change are happening right now. As of 2021 developed countries did not deliver on their commitments to mobilize 100bn$ of climate funding annually.
8. Gender issues
Glasgow Climate Pact urges parties to increase the full, meaningful and equal participation of women in climate action and to ensure gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation, which are vital for raising ambition and achieving climate goals.
Alok Sharma announced the UK’s commitment of £165m of funding for two programmes to “progress gender equality while tackling climate change”.
Several other announcements followed, including a US commitment of $14m towards the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund and Canada’s commitment to ensure that 80% of climate finance pledges over the next five years would target gender equality.
In Ukraine the gender equality issues in the context of climate change mitigation are not considered at the national level, thus we express expectations that during the development of the updated NDC, the Low-carbon development strategy and the implementation plans for the initiatives joined by Ukraine in Glasgow gender issues will be taken into account.
В Україні питання гендерної рівності в боротьбі зі зміною клімату не піднімаються на державному рівні, тому висловлюємо сподівання, що при розробці плану імплементації оновленого НВВ, Стратегії низьковуглецевого розвитку та планів реалізації ініціатив, до яких Україна долучилася у Глазго, питання гендерної рівності будуть враховані.
The document drafted by:
- Oksana Mariuk, chairwomen of the board of UCN, legal adviser at NGO Ecolub
- Evgenia Zasiadko, director of climate and transport department at NGO Ecoaction, climate policy expert.
- Mariana Vyniarska, director of Expert and Advisory center “Legal Analytics”
- Mykola Shlapak, expert on national and sub-national policies, co-author of parts 3 and 6 of IPCC assessment reports.