The United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP26 is around the corner. This major event brings together leaders from all over the globe to agree on how to step up global action to face the climate crisis. With the Conference taking place just a few months after the IPCC’s “code red for humanity” report, all eyes are on the potential outcomes of the COP. RECEIPT is expressing its expectations and the concrete actions we hope to see.

What you should know about COP26

Nearly 30 years ago, global leaders signed a climate convention that would commit each country to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This year, parties will review their progress on their commitments to keeping global warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and of pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, as dictated by the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement also set the goal to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change, while fostering climate-resilient development.

We are currently not on track to keep global warming below 1,5 degrees. That’s something the latest IPCC report made clear. Many more collective and ambitious efforts are needed to keep our planet’s temperature within safe limits. The conference hopes to see countries around the world submit ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to hit their emission reduction targets for 2030, but also to come forward with adaptation measures. Important questions such as laying down rules for international carbon markets for parties to trade emission reductions and establishing a common time frame for their NDCs need to be resolved.

What do RECEIPT researchers hope to see?

Keeping 1.5 degrees alive

The RECEIPT team underlines the IPCC conclusion that commitments are necessary to keep 1.5 degrees within reach. Research has shown that the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming is very consequential. With every incremental temperature increase, millions more people will face more frequent and more intense climate extremes. Higher global temperatures imply higher temperature peaks, longer dry spells and more extreme rainfall, putting ecosystems and livelihoods at risk. It is crucial that a global resolution is reached to limit further warming and that we prepare to face the consequences of the changes that are already in motion. Countries must upgrade their NDCs substantially to align with the need of halving carbon emissions by 2030. Anything less ambitious will not put us on a 1.5 degrees course.

Supporting international resilience

Climate action is needed everywhere. No individual or country can tackle the climate crisis on their own. It requires ambition, but it also requires substantial investments to change the direction we are headed in. International solidarity in adaptation and mitigation are crucial for low-income countries that are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. The EU Adaptation Strategy stresses the international dimension of adaptation and aims to increase the EU support to international resilience. Scaling up international finance is key to disaster risk management and to helping vulnerable communities to strengthen their resilience. What’s more, international cooperation and development aid efforts can sorely be impacted by climate disasters. As hazards are set to increase in frequency and intensity, investments need to be climate-proof to have lasting impacts. At COP15, some twelve years ago, high-income countries pledged to collectively mobilise US$100 billion per year from 2020 onwards for climate action in low-and middle-income countries. This goal was reiterated in 2015. Although official figures for 2020 are not released yet, this goal has clearly not been met. Some sources suggest wealthy nations are currently falling up to US$75 billion short of fulfilling their pledge. Donor countries need to step up to their commitment. US$100 billion per year is just a fraction of the real costs of climate impact recovery and mitigation costs, and not delivering on this promise creates bad faith when trust is sorely needed.

Thinking beyond adaptation

In 2013, the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) was established to avert, minimise and address losses and damages associated with the impacts of climate change. Some climatic impacts are so severe that adaptation is no longer possible – forced migration, deadly floods or desertification. RECEIPT research highlights consequences of climate change impacts in developing countries, and interactions with other disturbances like locust outbreaks or COVID19. Although substantial progress was made on the dialogue on loss and damage, a clear way forward should be defined at COP26 to facilitate concrete implementation.

Reaping what you sow

Food- and land-use systems account for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. They are also a major cause of deforestation and land-use change, as well as a global driver of biodiversity loss. Our agriculture experts warn that, as global warming is unfolding, small-scale farmers cultivating over 50% of the global food are increasingly struggling to make ends meet. They are not only exposed to changes in weather patterns, but reduced yields also make them more and more vulnerable to unequal competition forced by global markets and free trade. Political commitment should define a practical framework for more sustainable and resilient local agricultural production while providing a safety net for producers away from the instability of the global market.

Keeping the balance

The science is crystal clear: we need both mitigation and adaptation. We are already facing harsher and more frequent climate extremes, and it is not about to stop. Although mitigation and adaptation are separate goals and require different approaches, they are connected to the same assets. It is one thing to ensure that infrastructure reaches net zero before 2050, but it should not be forgotten that this infrastructure will need to be resilient to increasing climate extremes. Global leaders should shy away from ‘quick fixes’ and need to develop resolute policies and investments to accelerate both mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Where RECEIPT will be at COP26

On November, 9 at 18.30 CET, climate scientists Hanne Knaepen will present key messages from the ECCA conference that was co-organised by RECEIPT. The session “Adaptation beyond the EU: perspectives for stronger cooperation with Africa” will take place in the EU Pavilion in Glasgow.

RECEIPT project leader Bart van den Hurk will be contributing to a session on Water Resilience and Disaster Risk Management, as part of the Virtual Asia Water Hub at the Water Pavilion of the COP26. He will be giving a presentation setting the scene and providing an overview of why building resilience in the Asia and Pacific region is important. The session is scheduled for Wednesday November 10, at 7.00 am CET.

Bart van den Hurk also contributes to the IPCC session on “Climate change information for Europe”, taking place on 6 Nov 12:45-14:15 UTC in the IPCC-WMO pavilion. The session will give an overview of the assessment of climatic impact drivers in Europe and the Interactive Atlas that was produced as part of AR6. Special topics will be dedicated to attribution of extremes, climate change features at high latitudes and the role of internal climate variability

RECEIPT researcher Reinhard Mechler will also be active at COP26. On 11 November at 17.45 CET, he will take part in a side event on the ways in which vulnerable countries are responding to losses and damages and what support they need. The session will highlight the mechanisms required to strengthen global solidarity. Panellists will discuss challenges and opportunities for developing countries, local governments and communities, presenting case studies on national preparedness for loss and damage.

Published on : 28 October 2021