The Glasgow Climate Pact is the name given to the agreement reached by almost 200 nations at the COP26 summit. Although is not legally binding, it is the first agreement to explicitly plan to reduce the use of coal, cut emissions and pledge money to support developing countries.

The headlines are:

  • Countries will meet next year to pledge further cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to try to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre industrial levels. Current pledges, if met, will only limit temperature rises to 2.4°C, failing to overt a “climate catastrophe”.
  • There is an explicit plan to phase down the use of coal, which is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions. The original wording of the agreement called for coal to be phased out, but the wording was amended to phased down after at China and India’s request.
  • More monies will be given to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change and make the switch to clean energy. Earlier pledges from developed countries have been broken and many felt that not enough progress was made, particularly African and Latin American delegates.
  • Agreement was reached to phase out fossil fuel subsidies that artificially lower the process of natural gas, coal and oil, but no firm dates have been set.

Alok Sharma, President of COP26, in his closing remarks said:

“Together, over these two weeks, Parties have demonstrated what the world had come to doubt, that countries can rise above their differences to unite against a common challenge, that this multilateral process can deliver.

This Glasgow Climate Pact drives action on adaptation. It emphasises the need to act, it sets a clear way forward on the Global Goal on Adaptation, and it urges developed countries to at least double their collective climate finance for adaptation by 2025.”

Collectively, we have acknowledged that a gulf remains between short term targets, and what is needed to meet the Paris temperature goal. And so our Pact brings Parties back to the table next year to improve their commitments, to drive up ambition across this vital decade. And it emphasises the urgent need to accelerate our efforts to turn targets into action to keep 1.5 within reach.

That work must start now. “

The UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 website carries details of all the agreements reached and the full texts are available on the UNFCC website.

It is clear that progress has been made in theory, what we need to see now is action. For SMEs in particular, keen to reduce their carbon emissions, become more sustainable and achieve net zero status, support is needed to help them identify and take the necessary steps. The UK SME climate hub is a good place to start.

Wayne Thomas, partner at Bates Weston comments:

“Like many, Bates Weston are taking our first steps in the race towards net zero, and we will be sharing our experiences on our website. We are committed to doing our part, and look forward to taking action over the coming months.”