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COP26: A pivotal moment in the fight against the climate crisis

17/11/2021 - 08:43
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The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change concluded in Glasgow on 13 November with nearly 200 countries agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep 1.5°C within reach. It also marked the completion of the Paris Agreement rulebook.


Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented the outcome of COP26: "We have made progress on the three objectives we set at the start of COP26: First, to get commitments to cut emissions to keep within reach the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees. Second, to reach the target of 100 billion dollars per year of climate finance to developing and vulnerable countries. And third, to get agreement on the Paris rulebook. This gives us confidence that we can provide a safe and prosperous space for humanity on this planet. But there will be no time to relax: there is still hard work ahead.”

From 31 October to 13 November, COP26 brought together the 197 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the EU and all EU Member States, as well as Russia. The EU delegation was led by European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, representing the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the European Green Deal, and Commissioner for Climate Action Policy, led the final negotiations on behalf of the EU.

Under the Paris Agreement, 195 countries set a target to keep average global temperature change below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C. Before COP26, the planet was on course for a dangerous 2.7°C of global warming. Based on new announcements made during the Conference, experts estimate that we are now on a path to between 1.8°C and 2.4°C of warming. In the conclusions of the Conference, Parties have agreed to revisit their commitments, as necessary, by the end of 2022 to put us on track for 1.5°C of warming, maintaining the upper end of ambition under the Paris Agreement.

In order to deliver on these promises, COP26 also agreed for the first time to accelerate efforts towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, and recognised the need for support towards a just transition.

COP26 also completed the technical negotiations on the so-called Paris Agreement Rulebook, which fixes the transparency and reporting requirements for all Parties to track progress against their emission reduction targets. The Rulebook also includes the Article 6 mechanisms, which set out the functioning of international carbon markets to support further global cooperation on emission reductions.

On climate finance, the agreed text commits developed countries to double the collective share of adaptation finance within the $100 billion annual target for 2021-2025, and to reach the $100 billion goal as soon as possible.

Some other key COP26 outcomes

Protection of world forests

One of the first events of the COP26 World Leaders Summit – ‘Action on Forests and Land Use’ – brought together an unprecedented alliance of governments, companies, financial actors, and non-state leaders to raise ambition on forests and land-use. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin addressed the participants of this event via video conference.

Over 100 countries, including all EU Member States, the EU and Russia, have committed to work together to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 in the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use. These countries account for more than 90% of the world’s forests. Furthermore, the EU pledged €1 billion in funding for the Global Forests Finance Pledge, joining other 11 donor countries.

Global Methane Pledge

At the COP26 in Glasgow, the United States, the EU, and partners formally launched the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to reduce global methane emissions to keep the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach. Over 100 countries representing 70% of the global economy and nearly half of anthropogenic methane emissions have now signed onto the pledge.

Countries joining the Global Methane Pledge commit to a collective goal of reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030 and moving towards using best available inventory methodologies to quantify methane emissions, with a particular focus on high emission sources. The countries who have joined the Pledge represent all regions of the world and include representatives from developed and developing nations.

Finally, from 7 to 13 November, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans held bilateral meetings with key partners on the sidelines of COP26. In particular, Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans met on 10 November with Alexey Overchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.


The European Union is a global leader in climate action, having already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by over 30% since 1990, while growing its economy by over 60%. With the European Green Deal, presented in December 2019, the EU further raised its climate ambition by committing to reaching climate neutrality by 2050. This objective became legally binding with the adoption and entry into force of the European Climate Law. The Climate Law also sets an intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This 2030 target was communicated to the UNFCCC in December 2020 as the EU's NDC under the Paris Agreement. In order to deliver on these commitments, the European Commission presented a package of proposals in July 2021 to make the EU's climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

More information

COP26: EU helps deliver outcome to keep the Paris Agreement targets alive (press release of the European Commission, 13/11/2021)

26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26)

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