Last weekend, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP26, because it is the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change) concluded after stretching into an extra day as parties attempted to reach final agreements.
COP26 was the subject of a great deal of media attention in the runup to the event, because this year world leaders were expected to make new commitments to fighting climate change. In the end, the primary outcome of COP26 was the Glasgow Climate Pact, outlining commitments by 197 countries, while many countries made secondary agreements among themselves throughout the event.
We wanted to highlight a few takeaways for our customers:
1. The United States made several notable commitments
Beyond being part of the Glasgow Climate Pact, the United States made its own agreement with China. An agreement between the two countries is particularly noteworthy, as these are the world’s two leaders in emissions. The deal emphasized greater efforts from the two powers to cut emissions, and China, for the first time, pledged to cut methane specifically.
The United States had already made headlines earlier in the conference, when the Biden administration announced it would ramp up its own regulation against methane, and joined more than 100 other countries in a pledge to significantly cut methane emissions by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency will implement rules to limit methane from oil and gas rigs in the United States, among other measures.
2. The final Glasgow Climate Pact contained new language on coal and fossil fuels
The Glasgow Climate Pact included a pledge by all countries to “phase down” coal, and also to limit any subsidies for oil and gas. These pledges are in many ways notable because of their absence in previous years. While the original language around coal in the pact was for a “phase out,” it remains a significant step for the conference to make the phase-down commitment, as US climate envoy John Kerry noted at a press conference.
“While some may have wanted even stronger language, the text that we agreed to has the first-ever — believe it or not — mention of coal and fossil fuel subsidies,” he said. “That’s never happened.”
3. These measures are only part of the continuing efforts
According to the New York Times, diplomats asked governments to “return next year with stronger plans to curb their planet-warming emissions.” And indeed, for Americans and larger commercial & industrial energy users, perhaps the most notable takeaway is not any specific commitment, but that the Biden administration continues to make clear its efforts to cut emissions and increase renewable energy on an international stage. Biden’s commitment to reducing emissions and combating fighting climate change parallels the domestic legislation his administration has been pushing.
At Enel X, we work with companies to help them transition their energy supply to renewables and believe this market evolution is creating new opportunity for energy users. In every country around the world, renewable energy is slated to ramp up quickly over the next decade. COP26 was only another reminder of how much will be done in the coming years.