What to expect from COP26? Understand the scenario of the most important climate conference on the planet

Posted in: 11/05/2021

The eyes of the world are on COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference. Right now, thousands of people are wondering “What to expect from COP26?” And it is not difficult to understand the reason for the question.

When the president of COP25, the Chilean Patrícia Schmidt, handed over the coordination of the works to the president of COP26, the Englishman Alok Sharma, at the opening of the work of COP26, it didn’t seem as if two years had passed between Madrid and Glasgow – if it weren’t for the minute of silence and the heartfelt condolences expressed in solidarity with the millions of people who died in the pandemic.

The mood was one of resumption and Patrícia reminded us that, despite the interregnum, many things have been done in these two years: starting with the creation of the Climate Ambition Alliance for Carbon Neutralization, the inclusion of the oceans in the debates, the non-negotiability of science as an imperative and guide for discussions, due to the importance of subnational governments, the engagement of the financial sector in the journey to reduce emissions and other achievements.

Alok, in turn, enthusiastically mentioned the adherence of almost 80% of the international private sector to the goal of zero emissions by 2050. But it was bleak about the gigantic challenge that COP26 proposes: to establish and regulate the mechanisms necessary for the global economy to effectively apply NDCs (National Determined Contribution) as the main metric of engagement and commitment to the “common but differentiated responsibilities” of each nation.

In fact, the challenge is not small. Since Paris in 2015, reductions have been very timid, and it is considered that, at this rate, not only will the goal of reducing global temperatureby 1.5 °C by 2050 not occur, but there is a risk of going well beyond that of 2 °C.

The conclusions of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report of August 2020, not only provided irrefutable evidence of the anthropogenic effect of global warming, but the hitherto unlikely scenario of extinction of life on the planet acquired solid scientific evidences.

What to Expect at COP26 - Synergia in coverage of COP26
What to Expect at COP26? Delegates during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Photo: Reuters

Therefore, the COP in Glasgow is being held under the banner of Ambition, going beyond the NDCs previously agreed upon; Finances,ensuring greater resources than the agreed U$ 100 billion of international aid and the need for regulation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, aiming at the universalization of the carbon market and The regulation of the mechanisms that will allow the implementation of the tools proposed by the same agreement, both in its regulatory and institutional dimensions.

The Glasgow meeting is expected to benefit from the tentative and non-binding decision of the G20 meeting, which closed concurrently with the opening of the Conference. Although timid, it is nonetheless encouraging in supporting Glasgow’s goals and not imposing additional difficulties on it.

The G20, in its final declaration, expresses “significant and effective” action to limit global warming to 1.5°C and reaffirms the “fundamentally important” commitment to neutralize emissions “by the middle of this century. The Group also reiterated its commitment to secure the $100 billion in aid to developing countries without, however, committing to anything more.

What to expect from COP26 for Brazil

For Brazil, the scenario is still quite confusing. On the one hand, the government – with a serious reputational crisis – will try to push through its hastily commissioned “Green Growth” program, involving ten ministries with the aim of postulating international resources for forest preservation and financing actions to decarbonize the economy. On the other hand, a strong representation of civil society and business will be present with robust proposals that will be debated in the Brazil Climate Action Hub.

The embarrassment the country is going through, including for being the only G20 country that increased its GHG (GreenHouse Gas) emissions last year, is intended to be relativized also by a substantive presence of governors who are members of the Consórcio Brasil Verde (Green Brazil Consortium), which brings together at least 22 Brazilian state governors.

Be that as it may, Brazilian society seems to be in tune with the most ambitious scenario of COP26, presented at the beginning of the work by its president.

In the excellent document produced by the Talanoa Institute and the Climate Center, supported by the iCS (Climateand Society Institute) after extensive debate with leaders from various sectors of society – “Climate and Development: Visions for Brazil 2030” – the roadmap for Brazil is strongly outlined among the most ambitious ones reinforced by the COP26 leaders.

The coming days promise strong emotions, a certain apprehension and a lot of hope.


Written by Ricardo Young

Board member of Synergia, chairman of the Board of Instituto Ethos and of IDS – Instituto Desenvolvimento Sustentável (Sustainable Development Institute).

SDG13 – Climate action
SDG15 – Life on land

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