This content was published in the period between 9 July 2021 and 30 November 2021

Climate Change Conference in Glasgow must keep 1.5 degree goal within reach

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The UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is being held in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November. The world’s countries are gathered there to negotiate global climate action under the Paris Agreement. They will negotiate on issues such as rules on emissions trading and how countries should report their emissions. The conference will also focus on how the countries’ climate commitments measure up to the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was adopted at COP21 in Paris in 2015. It is an international climate agreement with the goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably under 1.5 degrees Celsius. To achieve this, all countries are to regularly present nationally determined contributions (NDCs) with targets for reducing their emissions. COP26 is the first opportunity since COP21 in Paris at which countries are expected to present new or updated NDCs, and much of the conference will focus on how well the countries’ collective contributions measure up to the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.

- Climate action around the world has been too slow and we are now heading for global warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius. This would have catastrophic consequences for people and communities around the world. All countries, including Sweden, must do much more to reduce our climate impact, and the climate negotiations must send a clear signal that emissions will be reduced more quickly, says Minister for Environment and Climate Per Bolund, who is leading the Swedish negotiating delegation in Glasgow.

Sweden also wants the countries’ NDCs to follow a common five-year timeframe. This means that the countries should update their NDCs at least every five years, which increases their chances of raising their level of ambition at the rate necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Paris Agreement Rulebook

During the conference, the countries will also negotiate on finalising the Paris Agreement Rulebook, which governs implementation of the Agreement. However, there is still disagreement on these issues. One such disagreement concerns rules on how countries should cooperate to reduce emissions, such as via emissions trading. The Paris Agreement allows countries to take climate action beyond their borders. For example, a country can finance wind power in another country. This helps the country where the wind power facility is built with its climate transition, and the country that financed the facility can use the emissions reduction generated by the facility to meet parts of its national emissions targets. However, some countries consider that the emissions reduction measure should be reported in both countries, known as ‘double counting’.

- We were the first generation to become aware of the climate crisis. Now we have to be the generation willing to take the decisions needed to stop it. To do this, we cannot allow double counting of emissions reductions or other rules that risk leading to drastically reduced climate ambitions, says Mr Bolund.

One of the great successes of the Paris Agreement was that all countries are to report their emissions in an equivalent manner, which was previously not the case. However, some countries want to retain the earlier differences in how countries report their emissions. This would make it more difficult to compare the countries’ climate action and lead to less transparency in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Sweden considers that there is a risk that excessively permissive rules could lead to a lower level of ambition in global climate action both as regards forms of cooperation and in emissions reporting.

Climate finance

The outcome of COP26 will also be assessed on the basis of whether the developed countries succeed in delivering on the commitment to mobilise USD 100 billion in climate finance per year from 2020 to 2025. This is important to enable climate transition in developing countries and to give them the means to continuously raise the level of ambition in their climate action.

- The poorest countries are the least to blame for the climate crisis, but they are the hardest hit. Rich countries have a special responsibility to contribute to the developing countries’ climate transition. Sweden will therefore increase its climate finance by SEK 1 billion next year, and double it to SEK 15 billion by 2025. This makes Sweden the world’s largest per capita donor of climate aid. Through this, we want to both improve the conditions for climate transition in developing countries and put pressure on other countries to do more, says Mr Bolund.