River Clyde, SSE Hydro and Science Centre

COP26: Halfway through ‘our last, best hope’ – In the News

It’s been pledges galore at the UN climate change conference in Glasgow.

But they appear to be heading in the right direction – with the head of the International Energy Agency claiming that the new COP26 pledges will keep global warming to 1.8°C. So one week since the conference started on a gloomy Glasgow Monday, what’s been promised?

A 50 per cent emissions cut by 2030 in New Zealand

Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are at the heart of the Paris Agreement and the achievement of its long-term goals. The NZ government has updated its NDC – promising to halve its net emissions by the end of the decade, a big increase on its previous pledge of 30 percent.

Bronwyn Hayward from the University of Canterbury welcomed the move, but said it needed to be backed up with action.

“With this commitment, we start to move from being rated highly insufficient to at least getting in the game of being able to match our rhetoric with other countries. The real problem is that we actually need to have action now that supports our emissions.”

Phase out coal

COP26 host Britain said 77 countries had pledged to phase out coal, the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that drive global warming. The goal of “consigning coal to history” has been a key focus for the UK as conference host.

New Zealand joined the pledge, although the Government had already promised to remove coal from the electricity mix under its 100 per cent renewable power target.

Lower methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030

New Zealand has signed on to a major climate agreement that will see the world cut its methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Climate Change Minister James Shaw said “if we’re going to live within a 1.5C world, then methane is one of the gases that has to come down.”

Reverse deforestation by 2030

More than 100 countries, including Brazil and Indonesia, have agreed to “reverse deforestation” by 2030. Boris Johnson declared it was “an end to the great chainsaw massacre“.

Coverage of COP26:

Rod Oram in Glasgow – Newsroom
Olivia Wannan in Glasgow – Stuff
Jeremy Rose and Alastair Thompson’s Glasgow Conversations – Carbon News / Scoop
Simon Wilson’s Glasgow Diary – NZ Herald