At the recent Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, 151 countries submitted plans to cut their emissions by 2030. The United Nations estimates that these plans put the world on track for 2.5 degrees. The conference results were underwhelming, and COP26’s agreement, although an improvement, will not keep temperature increases within the 1.5 degrees limit needed.
Key points of the COP26 agreement:
- Parties will “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 targets by the end of 2022 to align them with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals.
- Parties will submit long-term strategies to 2050, aiming for a just transition to net-zero emissions.
- More than 100 countries, including the U.S. and the European Union, formally launched the Global Methane Pledge, an initiative to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030.
- The final agreement did not include a pledge to phase out coal generation, rather agreeing to lessen coal use.
- Disappointingly, the discussions lacked the voices of people and communities most affected by climate change and impacted by COP26.
Companies and investors made announcements demonstrating increased private sector focus on reducing emissions:
- More than 2,000 companies have committed to develop science-based targets for reducing emissions, and new guidance for companies to set credible net-zero targets was released before COP26.
- More than 450 financial firms from 45 countries formed the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) to help shift the world’s economy and their portfolios toward net-zero emissions by 2050. However, many of these banks still provide significant funding to the fossil fuel industry, and the alliance does not explain how they will reduce their support for polluting industries over time.
Mercy Investment Services and other investors are asking U.S. banks to set policies against funding new fossil fuel production and exploration as well as continuing climate change engagements with all industries.