News article

COP26 review: Major talking points from the Climate Summit

Building Automation
Net Zero
29 November 2021

November has been an energetic time for climate action. At COP26, nearly 200 countries agreed to keep the pathway to 1.5C alive. In the last of our blogs covering the historic Climate Summit, we thought it was a good time to round-up the major talking points and what it means for climate change.

When COP26 concluded on November 15th, it ended two weeks of difficult climate negotiations amongst nearly 200 countries. Under the presidency of the UK, the aim of the Climate Summit was to keep 1.5°C alive.

Let’s look at a few of the key outcomes.

Net Zero buildings

As you can imagine, at Priva we were interested to hear what ambitions and targets for the built environment were agreed at COP26.

During the last few days of COP26, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) announced a further 44 businesses had signed up to the whole life carbon requirements of the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. As well as pledging to take increased action to decarbonise the built environment across their portfolios and business activities, signatories also pledged to reduce all operational emissions of new and existing built assets, and advocate for wider emission reductions via their business activities and report on their impact, to enable and accelerate the sector wide transition to net zero.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) took COP26 as an opportunity to launch its Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the UK Built Environment. Co-created by industry the Roadmap provides a shared vision and set of actions for achieving a net zero UK built environment by 2050, in relation to construction, operation and demolition of buildings and infrastructure. It also details the actions needed by government to achieve net zero across the sector.

The Green Building Council Finland (GBC Finland) also announced 24 Finnish organisations, had pledged their support to the #BuildingLife Programme for Carbon Neutrality in the Built Environment. With the goal of making the built environment carbon neutral by 2035, supporters also committed to developing their own programmes for carbon neutrality.

New climate ambitions

The result of all discussions was the Glasgow Climate Pact, and global agreement to speed up action on climate change. The Pact states: “limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The big news story is: this Pact is the first-ever international climate pact to explicitly reference fossil fuels, particularly coal, one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions. The final document states that “unabated” coal power should be phased down as a priority and that “inefficient subsidies” for all fossil fuels should be removed. However, there was some frustration and disappointment that the language was weakened from the original requirement to "phase out" coal altogether.

The guidelines for how the Paris Agreement will be delivered was also completed. Known as The Paris Rulebook, these will allow for the full delivery of the landmark accord after an agreement was reach on the transparency process holding countries to account as they deliver on their climate targets.

Commitments were also made from developed countries to increase financial support to the Adaption Fund by 2025 in order to support developing countries reach their climate ambitions.

Accelerating change

In order to accelerate climate action, nations are required to publish updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement for 2030. These must be presented before the next Conference of the Parties in held in Egypt in 2022. In a further step, it was agreed that countries should also begin to develop NDC’s through to 2039. With organisations such as the International Energy Agency and Climate Action Tracker showing the world is on course for temperature rises of between 1.8°C and 2.4°C, the NDCs could be critical in setting a path that aligns close to 1.5°C.

Final words

Closing the summit, COP26 President Alok Sharma commented: “It is up to all of us to sustain our lodestar of keeping 1.5°C within reach and to continue our efforts to get finance flowing and boost adaptation. After the collective dedication which has delivered the Glasgow Climate Pact, our work here cannot be wasted.”

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Bill Whittaker