Cambridge Researcher Natalie Jones is reporting for The Earth Negotiations Bulletin. In their highlights from the main proceedings of Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th at COP26, they emphasised the key developments in negotiations as:
- COP26 President’s stocktaking plenary on the Wednesday was the first opportunity to hear where negotiations stand since the start of the second week. Ministers reported back on progress and their reports, and countries’ reactions were reportedly mixed on progress:
- Finance negotiations took up most of the Tuesday due to the volume of work and deep divisions between developed and developing countries’ positions. This was reflected on Wednesday’s plenary as in Finance reports, developing countries reported developed countries as refusing to engage and shirking financial obligations. Developed countries noted their financial contributions made at this COP.
- Adaptation is a more localised, context-specific and qualitive issue that temperature goals and mitigation. As such, how to operationalise the Paris Agreement’s global goal on adaptation was discussed on the Tuesday. It was then one of the more positive aspects of the plenary on Wednesday as there appeared to be an agreement for a two-year work programme to operationalise it.
- Article 6’s (co-operative approaches e.g., carbon markets) new texts were available at the plenary but key outstanding debates included disagreements upon if credits granted from the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism should be allowed to be ‘carried over’ to enable more ambitious sounding pledges. Critics suggest this undermines the mechanism to drive real emission reductions.
- Interlinking issue of finance and article 6’s transparency. Developing countries required financial support to uphold transparent reporting on their obligations, hence they want financial assurances before committing to reporting tables.
The Earth Bulletin also drew attention to these events happening in the venue but outside the negotiating halls:
- On Science and Innovation Day, an event responding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent physical science report (AR6 WG1) showcased science as key to healing the planet, not just diagnosing problems. Indigenous knowledge was emphasised, as Pasang Dolma Sherpa highlighted that Indigenous Peoples protect 80% of biodiversity, though only 6% of the global population.
- As part of Gender Day, Brianna Fruean, Samoan climate activist, and Little Amal, the giant puppet representing a young Syrian girl refugee, opened the plenary. Little Amal has travelled over 80,000km across Europe as part of ‘The Walk’ in support of Refugees.
- On Transport Day, eighteen countries launched the Clydebank Declaration - aiming to establish at least six green shipping corridors by 2025. Thirty-three countries and numerous other cities and regional governments committed to 100% zero emission vehicle sales by 2040. Twenty-two signatories launched The International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition. They commit to working towards the adoption of an ambitious global goal on carbon dioxide emission reductions.
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Cambridge on the Ground
Cambridge Zero at COP26
On Tuesday, Prof Emily Shuckburgh had a very busy day, first unveiling the Futures We Want project at the Blue Zone event ‘From Risk to Opportunity: Making Science Work for Solutions’, followed by being interviewed by Salina Abraham on COP26 TV.
The ‘Futures We Want’ project - coordinated by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Deloitte, and Cambridge Zero - brought together six groups of academic experts, and six groups of citizens to create visions of a global net-zero world. In the COP26 event, Prof Shuckburgh emphasised the importance of citizen’s involvement in the process, an emphasis supported by the other panellists as Susan Nakyung Lee commented that science is only 2D until citizens are involved.
In Prof Shuckburgh’s interview in the afternoon, she carried forward this emphasis on inclusion, commenting ‘Be inspired! We need as many different people with as many different ideas, energy and enthusiasm to get involved and help create solutions to the climate crisis’. Watch the interview here.
Cambridge’s Centre for Climate Repair was also busy, on Tuesday their Green Zone event ‘Why do we need to talk about Climate Repair’ proved a wonderful opportunity to interact with members of the public. On Wednesday, a brilliant panel in the Indigenous People’s Pavilion included speakers Kera Sherwood O'Regan, Dr. Tero Mustonen, Nelsith Sangama, Freddy Sebastian Medina, Rayen Cariman Davis and was chaired by the Centre’s Dr Shaun Fitzgerald and Dr Antoinette Nestor. Discussion included conversation upon Indigenous people’s rewilding as a form of climate repair.
Cambridge Students at COP
PhD Student Friederike Hartz continues her week at COP26, on Tuesday she repoted:
'Today I observed a Presidency event on the IPCC report and how to “keep 1.5 degrees alive” The panelists agreed that it was absolutely crucial to enhance action further to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The YOUNGO delegate (one of the panelists) said this is the “bare minimum” as we could have already addressed the problem 20 years ago. COP President Alok Sharma closed the talk and highlighted the importance of being guided by science and facts when making decisions on climate policies'.
On Wednesday, Friederike was able to look around the wider venue:
Here is the list with pavilions. You have different countries, organisations, initiatives, alliances etc. showcasing their actions, ambitions and ideas. And there are a lot of events going on here each day. At the Swedish pavilion I saw the Swedish Minister for the Environment Per Bolund speak on Tuesday. He was on a panel with, inter alia, Annika Ramsköld, Head of Sustainability, Vattenfall. I also took pictures of art installations around the Blue Zone.
This was a protest I saw just in the exit area for the Blue Zone. They held a silent vigil to end fossil fuels.
I met my friend Priti Mohandas, who is also a second year PhD at Geography in Cambridge. She is currently doing an internship at UN-HABITAT and is at COP in this capacity. It is nice to catch up with people from Cambridge!
MPhil Student Qintian Yao was also on the ground in Glasgow and attended events relevant to China’s role.
Today at Denmark Pavilion, Xie Zhenhua, China Special Envoy for Climate Change, shared what China has been doing towards energy transformation. A report is released, showing clear roadmap China is taking to achieve the carbon neutrality goal.