What is COP26? What is at stake? And what will be the role there for AFD? You’ll find the answers in this fictional but informative SMS exchange with Mathilde Bord-Laurans, AFD's Head of the Climate Change Department.
Hi Mathilde, will you be in the office next week?
Hi Franck, no I’ll be in Glasgow!
Great! I love Scotland. 🥃 Are you going for work?
Yes, I’m going to COP26, which will be held from October 31 to November 12. Look, it’ll be here!
Nice! 👍 BTW, what’s a “COP”? 🤔 ?
It’s short for “Conference of the Parties”, the annual global gathering of countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). They’re summits where political negotiations are held to bolster actions by governments against climate change.
The COPs also have side events, like round tables and exhibitions, with stakeholders from local governments, civil society, the scientific community and corporations.
I see... But do COPs still need to meet, after COP21 in France?
Oh, yes! COP21 led to the Paris Agreement—ratified by 183 parties—whose goal is to limit global warming to less than 2°C, and preferably less than 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. That was a big step forward.
But today, with warming already reaching +1.1°C, there’s too little concrete action by governments to put us on a collective trajectory to 1.5°C. You did see the cataclysmic summer we had, with the fires in Greece, Turkey and France, right? 🔥 Check out this article if you want to find out more:
Yes, I agree it’s quite worrying.
The Paris Agreement has set a framework that must be kept going. That’s one of the major challenges of COP26: to revise upwards the voluntary commitments made by each country six years ago. For now, we’re still far from achieving this goal, as countries like China, India and Australia haven’t yet announced new commitments. This puts us on a trajectory for a +2.7°C rise. Negotiations will also continue on the points of the Paris Agreement that need to be finalized, like Article 6, which deals with financial mechanisms and rules on transparency.
Another huge issue is the famous $100 billion per year that the developed countries—the main historical emitters of greenhouse gases—promised to pay each year until 2025 to the emerging countries to fight climate change. In 2019, only $79.6 billion was made available. More effort is needed.
OK, but will this new COP really change things in your opinion? 😬
We’ll see... There’s the risk that the positions taken by certain governments may disappoint us. After nearly two years of health crisis, it’s not easy for them to come up with renewed climate goals. This is a critical moment in the workings of the Paris Agreement, and we have to make sure momentum doesn’t slow down. But the agreement will still stand, and other governments will upgrade their commitments and actions.
And what about AFD?
Well, for us the issue of financing is crucial: the $100 billion, the support for adaptation to climate change, and more generally how financial players are involved. We’ll be actively working on those issues. You’ve probably seen that we’ve also helped several countries draw up their long-term climate plans. Colombia will present its plan at COP26.
Strong links between climate and biodiversity are also being promoted through nature-based solutions. To find out more, you can watch this video that we produced...
And what exactly will you be doing there?
Quite a lot... I’m going to present the headway we’ve made, report on our activities, see what our partners are doing, and find out if there are innovations we might have missed.
And will it be possible to follow COP26 remotely?
Yes, most of the events will be broadcast online!
What did you want to ask me, anyway?
If you could water my houseplants while I’m on vacation...But I’ll find someone else. 🙂
Sorry...have a nice vacation!