Press release from Ministry of the Environment

Outcome of the UN COP26 Climate Change Conference

Published

The UN COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow has ended. The main successes of the conference were that countries were encouraged to sharpen their climate goals as early as next year, double support for adaptation to climate change by 2025 and that the role of fossil fuels in climate transition was mentioned for the first time.

Both before and during the conference, much revolved around the need for increased ambitions in global climate work and the gap between the countries’ current commitments and the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees Celsius target. The commitments made by the countries are decided at national level and are therefore not subject to negotiation. However, the overarching decision of the meeting contains wording on the phasing out of subsidies for coal and fossil fuels, more ambitious commitments on the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, the importance of a just transition, human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples. The parties are now also encouraged to ensure meaningful and inclusive participation of young people.

“Limiting heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require a lot of us, but the decision we have taken in Glasgow lays the foundations for making it possible. Over these past two weeks, the countries of the world have shown that they can agree on even the most difficult climate decisions and take major steps forward. This will not be enough, but it will speed up the pace of climate efforts and give us much greater opportunities to counter the climate crisis,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Per Bolund.

During COP26, the countries have also negotiated on finalising the Paris Agreement Rulebook, which sets out the rules governing how the countries must implement their commitments under the Agreement, the aim of which is to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Climate finance

One of the conference’s major negotiation issues has concerned climate finance, i.e support for emission reductions and climate change adaptation in developing countries, and the commitment to mobilise USD 100 billion per year from 2020 to 2025. This is important to enable climate transition in developing countries and enable them to raise the level of ambition in their climate action. The UK Presidency gave Per Bolund, together with his Egyptian colleague Dr Yasmine Fouad, the task of leading the negotiations on climate finance. Together, they proposed, among other things, doubling the support for climate adaptation by 2025, which was requested by those most affected by climate change, and was also part of the final decision.

“Climate change is already doing enormous damage in many places and is making life more difficult for millions of people. The message we’re sending from the conference is clear: support for climate adaptation will double by 2025. This will make a big difference to all those people who would otherwise have been hit hardest by the climate crisis,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Per Bolund.

The conference also decided how the process for a new joint financing goal should be designed. A decision on such a goal is expected in 2024.

International cooperation and emissions trading

Another issue has been rules for international forms of cooperation and emissions trading between countries. For Sweden, it has been important that these rules do not allow ‘double counting’ of emission reductions, as this would equate to a lower climate ambition. The parties have now agreed to avoid this. Sweden has also pushed for the cooperation and projects implemented to be subject to protection of human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as the introduction of a right of complaint for those who consider themselves adversely affected as a result of activities under the regulatory framework.

A sticking point has been the rules for how countries are to report their emissions. For Sweden and several other countries it has been important that all countries report their emissions in an equivalent way and that certain countries not be exempt from certain reporting requirements. The rules now agreed require all countries to report in such a way that their emission figures can be transparently reviewed.

Common timeframes

At COP26, the parties also agreed on common timeframes for when the countries are to update their commitments. This is a line that Sweden, the EU and several other countries have advocated because it increases the chances of raising the level of ambition at the rate necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The common timeframes will begin to apply from 2031.

Loss and damage

The conference has also agreed on functions for the Santiago network and a process for deciding on the structure and financing of COP27. The aim is to strengthen technical assistance to the most vulnerable developing countries in order to identify and access solutions to counter loss and damage from climate change. The conference also agreed on a dialogue to discuss financing arrangements to counter, prevent and address damage and losses from climate change.

Initiatives

In connection with COP26, a high-level meeting was also held in the Leadership Group for Industry Transition, which was launched by Sweden and India in 2019 to drive the climate transition in heavy industry. The meeting gathered ministers and business leaders who agreed to develop road maps to achieve net-zero emissions in heavy industry.

During COP26, Sweden and several other countries and states joined the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA), which is intended to counteract new gas and oil extraction.