Achievements of the Glasgow Summit 2021

What was achieved?

Mitigation: The Glasgow agreement has emphasised that stronger action in the current decade was most critical to achieving the 1.5-degree target. Accordingly, it has:

1. Asked countries to strengthen their 2030 climate action plans, or NDCs (nationally-determined contributions), by next year.

2. Established a work programme to urgently scale-up mitigation ambition and implementation.

3. Decided to convene an annual meeting of ministers to raise ambition of 2030 climate actions.

4. Called for an annual synthesis report on what countries were doing.

5. Requested the UN Secretary General to convene a meeting of world leaders in 2023 to scale-up ambition of climate action.

6. Asked countries to make efforts to reduce usage of coal as a source of fuel, and abolish “inefficient” subsidies on fossil fuels
Has called for a phase-down of coal, and phase-out of fossil fuels. This is the first time that coal has been explicitly mentioned in any COP decision. It also led to big fracas at the end, with a group of countries led by India and China forcing an amendment to the word “phase-out” in relation to coal changed to “phase-down”. The initial language on this provision was much more direct. It called on all parties to accelerate phase-out of coal and fossil fuel subsidies. It was watered down in subsequent drafts to read phase-out of “unabated” coal power and “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies. But even this was not liking to the developing countries who then got it changed to “phase down unabated coal power and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support to the poorest and the most vulnerable in line with national circumstances…”. Despite the dilution, the inclusion of language on reduction of coal power is being seen as a significant movement forward.

Adaptation: Most of the countries, especially the smaller and poorer ones, and the small island states, consider adaptation to be the most important component of climate action. These countries, due to their lower capacities, are already facing the worst impacts of climate change, and require immediate money, technology and capacity building for their adaptation activities.

As such, the Glasgow Climate Pact has:

Asked the developed countries to at least double the money being provided for adaptation by 2025 from the 2019 levels. In 2019, about $15 billion was made available for adaptation that was less than 20 per cent of the total climate finance flows. Developing countries have been demanding that at least half of all climate finance should be directed towards adaptation efforts.

Created a two-year work programme to define a global goal on adaptation. The Paris Agreement has a global goal on mitigation — reduce greenhouse gas emissions deep enough to keep the temperature rise within 2 degree Celsius of pre-industrial times. A similar global goal on adaptation has been missing, primarily because of the difficulty in defining such a target. Unlike mitigation efforts that bring global benefits, the benefits from adaptation are local or regional. There are no uniform global criteria against which adaptation targets can be set and measured. However, this has been a long-pending demand of developing countries and the Paris Agreement also asks for defining such a goal.

Finance: Every climate action has financial implications. It is now estimated that trillions of dollars are required every year to fund all the actions necessary to achieve the climate targets. But, money has been in short supply. Developed countries are under an obligation, due to their historical responsibility in emitting greenhouse gases, to provide finance and technology to the developing nations to help them deal with climate change. In 2009, developed countries had promised to mobilise at least $100 billion every year from 2020. This promise was reaffirmed during the Paris Agreement, which also asked the developed countries to scale up this amount from 2025. The 2020 deadline has long passed but the $100 billion promise has not been fulfilled. The developed nations have now said that they will arrange this amount by 2023.