The Climate Change Conference COP26 concluded last week, with a mixed end result. For many, the Glasgow Agreement didn’t meet the high expectations the Conference had set off with. In the words of COP President Alok Sharma: “We have kept 1.5 within reach, but the pulse is weak.”
Yet I see many reasons to remain positive: major announcements from multinational coalitions delivered significant promises of methane reduction, and actions to reduce or eliminate deforestation. Restricting temperature rise to 1.5°C is now a widely recognised goal. The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) and International Energy Agency (IEA) project that the fresh pledges made over the past fortnight have the potential to reduce global warming by 0.5°C – a significant stride toward the 1.5°C target.
Major world economies including China and the U.S. begin not only to show serious climate ambition but also, crucially, the finance to back it up.
But the takeaway from Glasgow I want to reflect on and celebrate is the wide acknowledgement of the undeniable role nature – and the rights of Indigenous communities whose lands play host to so much of the world’s remaining natural areas – can play in addressing the interconnected climate and biodiversity emergencies.
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Nature was on the agenda at COP26 like never before.
The world has heard about the role of our forests, mangroves and wetlands in absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it. It is now clear for all that protecting and restoring species and habitat must be a priority in our fight against climate change. Unlocking the potential of forests, farms, and wetlands to deliver up to a third of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 is now on the world’s agenda.
The COP26 agreement might not be the agreement we all expected, but it is an agreement that lays the foundations for the future.
Now, the hard work toward accelerating commitments into real-world action must begin.