What Decisions Were Made at COP26, and How Do They Affect You?

Date: 2021-11-19

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What Decisions Were Made at COP26, and How Do They Affect You?

Representatives from almost 200 countries gathered in November 2021 to confront the worldwide crisis of climate change. The annual United Nations climate change conference was held in Glasgow and concluded on November 13th.

But what really was discussed? What choices were made? And how will they reflect you as a consumer? Let's look at how the decisions made at COP26 could impact UK households, and why some criticise the planned initiatives as being "too little, too late."

What exactly is COP26, and why is it significant?

The 26th Conference of the Parties is referred to as COP26. Following the 2016 Paris Agreement, it is attended by delegates from the nations that joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994. COP26 was attended by representatives from industry, charities, religious groups, and non-governmental organisations, in addition to world leaders.

Hundreds of countries from all over the world attended, including 27 EU member states, the United States, Canada, Australia, India, Colombia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Korea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to mention a few. With over 30,000 people, it was the largest conference ever hosted by the United Kingdom.

Its purpose is to solve the world's most serious ecological challenges, such as climate catastrophe and the creation of a worldwide infrastructure for more sustainable living.

How did the COP26 conclude?

The COP26 concluded with strong resolutions calling for further action to be made throughout the world to solve the present climate issue. One important lesson is that, after years of avoiding the topic, COP26 concluded with a direct acknowledgement of the role of fossil fuels in prolonging our climate disaster. However, several critics were disappointed by the lack of a more clear position on coal consumption. Following a late complaint by Indian delegates, the phrase was changed from "phasing out" coal to "phasing down" with a reduction in "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies.

Much of the action on the problem of fossil fuel phasing out has been postponed until COP27, which will be held in Egypt. Several crucial acts, however, were agreed upon in what became known as the "Glasgow Climate Pact."

What major decisions have been made?

Environmental organisations were disappointed that more significant steps were not agreed upon as COP26 came to a conclusion. Nonetheless, the group established a number of goals to mitigate the effects of climate change. 

Although states are not legally obligated to take action, US climate envoy John Kerry told CNN that nations in attendance will be held responsible by "public scrutiny that holds you accountable to your own promises... That's a huge level of accountability, frankly"

The following were the key decisions taken at the Glasgow Climate Pact.

Fossil fuels 

Environmentalists were pleasantly delighted when the role of fossil fuels, particularly coal, in causing climate change was explicitly mentioned. Coal combustion contributes to around 40% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Following a complaint from India, the agreement's language was amended from "phasing out" to "phasing down." The deal also includes a commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

End of deforestation

Trees absorb massive amounts of CO2 and play an important role in the prevention and reversal of climate change. So it was reassuring to learn that over 100 countries (representing 85 percent of the world's forests) vowed to eliminate deforestation by 2030.

Critics, on the other hand, noted that similar projects had come and gone with little impact. Prof Simon Lewis, a climate change specialist, stated that the world "has been here before," referring to a 2014 declaration in New York that failed to have a major influence on deforestation. It was also uncertain how this would be managed.  

Limit global warming to 1.50C

COP26 President Alok Sharma thanked delegates for "keeping 1.5 alive," referring to the Paris Agreement's objective of preventing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is critical to averting a climate disaster and mitigating the effects of frequent and extreme heat waves and storms on our planet.

The key to this is lowering global greenhouse gas emissions. To keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by roughly 27 billion metric tonnes each year. Critics say that the Glasgow Climate Pact's pledges fall short of this standard.

What will the UK's next moves be?

The decisions made at COP26 will have far-reaching consequences for governments, industries, and corporations worldwide. But what are the UK's next steps? The most significant are:

• Increasing our commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050.

• Increasing efforts to minimise greenhouse gas emissions

• Significant investment in renewable energy infrastructure

• Collaborating with the automobile industry to accelerate the phase-out of gasoline and diesel cars.

How will the climate conference affect our lives?

We may anticipate that the decisions taken at COP26 will have an impact on our daily lives in a variety of ways. While we should welcome the transition to a more sustainable way of life, we must also recognise the contributions that each of us must make and what we can do to help reduce the consequences of climate change. Some of the ways we may expect our lives to alter over the next ten years are as follows:

Living in greener homes

There are several methods to make our homes more environmentally friendly. Even little changes, such as switching to a green energy supplier, can have a significant impact on your household's carbon footprint.

The government is also looking into new ways to encourage heating your house using non-fossil energy (i.e. gas). While the Green Homes Grant was eliminated earlier this year, the Boiler Upgrade Scheme may assist reduce the cost of installing ground or air source heat pumps, solar water heaters, and, in some situations, biomass boilers.

Switching to electric cars

The government has already said that it intends to make the production and sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles illegal by 2030. It has recently announced intentions to phase out fossil-fuel-powered automobiles beginning in 2024. A total of £620 million has been set aside to provide targeted incentives to make electric vehicles more accessible to families.

Increasing the price of food

Now you have even another motivation to eat your vegetables! The global vow to end deforestation will impose harsh restrictions on animal agriculture and the palm oil sector, two of the biggest sources of deforestation. As a result, we should anticipate meat, dairy products, and processed meals to become more expensive.

Your retirement plan and investments

Over 400 financial institutions have pledged to increase their support for green technologies. As a result, you may anticipate your pension provider spending more of your money on green technology. 

Did COP26 meet the expectations?

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed COP26 as a great success, many opponents have pointed out that the planned steps, while welcome, would be insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Indeed, what has been agreed upon is expected to cut global temperatures by 2.4 degrees Celsius, but this would still do irreversible harm to many of the world's most climate-vulnerable nations.

Time will tell whether the UKL is able to set a good example and go above and beyond its vow to undo the harm we've done to our world before it's too late.

Tags: cop26, climate change, households, environmental, energy, fossil fuels, deforestation, global warming, green homes, electric cars

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