As COP26 got underway, India pledged to achieve net zero by 2070. It also intends to generate half of electricity from renewable energy by 2030. Classed as a ‘developing country’ with a population of more than 1.3 billion people, it is the thirst largest carbon emitting nation. Its net zero target date is 20 years later than a majority of previous commitments. However, 2070 is said to be ‘feasible and realistic’.
Coal-fired power is the single biggest contributor to rising global temperatures. Ending the use of coal is essential in reaching the 1.5C Paris Agreement target. To achieve this, it has been announced through a “Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement”, that 190 countries and organisations (including The UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany) that major economies will phase-out coal power by 2030, and 2040 for the rest of the world.
In a further step forward for reducing reliance on coal, South Africa will receive funding from the United States and European countries to help it end its use of coal-fired power plants, which produce around 90% of its electricity. This will help the country achieve its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) emissions-reduction plan.
Reducing methane levels
Much of the focus in tackling climate change has been focused on reducing carbon emissions. Yet methane is another damaging greenhouse gas, with levels rising sharply over the last 10 years. To combat this, more than 90 nations have committed to reduce methane emissions by at least 30% by 2030 (compared to 2020 levels).
World leaders from 40 nations (including the UK, the US, India, China and the EU) have signed a new commitment to deliver clean and affordable technology and tools needed by developing countries to reduce carbon emissions. The initiative will cover clean power, zero emission vehicles, near-zero emission steel production, low carbon hydrogen and sustainable agriculture.
Keeping 1.5C Alive
The overall aim of COP26 has been to keep the world on target keep the 1.5C pathway of the Paris Agreement alive.
According to the latest research from the International Energy Agency, if all the climate pledges announced to date were met in full and on time, it would be enough to hold the rise in global temperatures to 1.8 °C by 2100.
In contrast to this, the Carbon Action Tracker predicts that the world is heading to at least 2.4 ̊C of warming, if not more. It believes that the “good news” of the potential impact of announced net zero targets was bringing false hope to the reality of global warming as a result of inaction.
In light of this, when publishing the draft cover decision – which sets out the potential outcomes from COP26 – nations have been urged to ‘pull out all of the stops, and to revisit and strengthen their 2030 climate targets by the end of next year when climate pledges will be discussed again to reduce the chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.