Open Letter to Ministers attending the COP26 UK Presidency’s July Ministerial Meeting

Posted on 23 July 2021

Your Excellencies,

I would like to congratulate the COP26 UK Presidency for their initiative of bringing a representative group of ministers together to discuss expectations for Glasgow, the shape and substance of the potential outcome and to provide guidance on outstanding issues such as keeping 1.5 alive, scaling up adaptation, loss and damage, Article 6 and mobilizing finance. 

It is essential that the COP 26 outcomes capture, reflect and build upon the intense momentum and unprecedented developments on the political climate agenda in 2021, such as the US-led Leaders Summit on Climate, the G7 Leaders Communiqué and a potentially supportive result from efforts through the G20 process. 

We consider the July Ministerial a key opportunity to mobilize political will and determination around some central issues in the climate negotiations this year. Moreover, it could also be a moment to focus not only on what this COP should deliver but what could be a legacy in terms of formal and informal steps needed to provide clarity for future COPs and ensure the Paris Agreement lives up to its promise through effective implementation in the critical subsequent five years. 

In a spirit of collaboration, I would like to offer my views on the discussion questions posed in the COP President's open letter to all Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in the text that immediately follows, and share WWF’s COP26 Expectations Paper with you. Another key reference is the Five-Point Plan for Solidarity, Fairness and Prosperity, by developing country leaders and civil society organizations.

My team and I wish you enormous success in the Ministerial and in COP26, and stand ready to support you in achieving the goals we all hold dear.

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal
WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy
Former Minister of Environment, Peru
COP20 President

Responses to questions

Scaling up adaptation

  • What outcomes are needed on the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA) at COP26? How can we ensure an effective assessment of collective progress towards the GGA ahead of the Global Stocktake?
  1. COP 26 needs to adopt a decision on operationalizing the GGA and identifying a clear process to set out to measure progress, defining parameters and/or a matrix (e.g: National Adaptation Plan (NAP) formulation, NAP Implementation, national development policies integrating climate risks, vulnerability assessments based on different temperature rise scenarios, finance received by countries for adaptation implementation  at national level). 
  2. The UNFCCC needs to help develop methodologies to translate the GGA to national frameworks in terms of the parameters and/or matrix to allow national governments to understand and report on their path of achieving the GGA for the Global Stocktake.
  3. Countries must do the reporting based on the agreed parameters/matrix.
  • What can be done to improve the quantity, quality, and predictability of finance for adaptation, including improving the accessibility of finance for locally-led action?
A share of proceeds (SOP) applied to both Articles 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris Agreement should be adopted and allocated to the Adaptation Fund. Concluding the review of the Adaptation Fund as soon as possible, indicating new pathways and a possible replenishment process not to depend exclusively on a SOP from carbon markets, would also be very important. At least 50% of international public climate finance should be allocated to climate change adaptation in developing countries. Capacity building at the national level is key for countries to write quality proposals for the different International financial Institutions. 

Loss & Damage

  • What does the Santiago Network on Loss & Damage need to deliver for countries most at risk of loss and damage? How can the process led by the presidencies ensure that this can be achieved?
By the Glasgow COP, the Santiago Network on Loss & Damage (SNLD) needs to be fully operationalized through a COP decision. It must become an effective platform for countries to get technical support that helps in averting, minimizing and addressing Loss and Damage, and not become a forum purely for debate and discussion. To do this, the SNLD should fulfil at least the following key functions:
  1. Information gathering, management, and sharing, to increase knowledge and expertise on Loss & Damage.
  2. Broker technical support and capacity building between parties and organizations.
  3. Provide technical support and tools for the Loss & Damage assessment, design, and implementation of projects.
  4. Provide assistance with accessing finance, technology, and capacity building. 
  5. Technical support for bringing Loss & Damage issues to global platforms (UNFCCC, Convention on Biological Diversity, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and other global processes). 
  • Beyond the Santiago Network, how can assistance and support from within and outside the UNFCCC enable enhanced action to avert, minimize and address Loss & Damage?
There is still no clarity on Loss and Damage finance in terms of sources, scale, and institutions. It is important that, at COP26, Parties take bold decisions on the topic of Loss and Damage finance, its institutional arrangements, sources, and scale. COP26 should decide to: 
  1. Establish a Loss and Damage finance facility to address the needs of vulnerable developing countries. It could be a combination of the existing UNFCCC financial instruments (GCF, GEF, Adaptation Fund, etc) and beyond (Global Disaster Risk Reduction Fund, etc). For emergency responses (e.g. responding to climate-induced disasters), the disbursement of funds needs to be fast, easy and with simplified procedures for prompt access. 
  2. Agree on sources of  new and additional Loss & Damage finance, which can include both the public and private sectors. The fund should provide financing in the form of grants with direct access. 
  3. Ensure the inclusion of Loss & Damage finance in the discussions on the new finance goal to come into effect from 2025, with new and additional sources and levels of finance for averting, minimizing, and addressing it. 
  4. Periodically present a Loss & Damage finance gap report for discussion at the UNFCCC COPs. 

Cutting emissions to keep 1.5°C within reach

  • What do Parties consider to be the critical steps that we must collectively take to deliver on the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement to keep 1.5°C within reach?
Parties should be urged to deliver enhanced NDCs aligned to 1.5˚C before COP 26. The ones who have already presented updated insufficient NDCs should aim to resubmit them. Short-term and long-term plans should reflect commitments to phase out fossil fuels, redirect perverse subsidies and realize the full potential of nature-based solutions. Net-zero commitments by 2050 by countries should be backed up by strong Long-Term Strategies that connect to their NDCs. 
  • How should these steps be reflected through outcomes at COP26, and which other issues might need to be captured beyond those listed above?
As a political response to the fact that the sum of 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) might not put us on track to 1.5˚C, COP26 should call on parties to review and strengthen their 2030 targets in the next ratchet cycle, following the first Global Stocktake. 

A key issue not listed above but of utmost importance is common time frames. The outcome most compatible with an effective Paris ratchet mechanism and ambitious NDCs is agreement on five-year common time frames or implementation periods for future NDCs. The next round of NDCs submitted by 2025 must have targets for the period to 2035 - 5 years after the current 2030 targets (which should also be revised, as stated above). The alternatives, either 2040 targets or a mix of 2035 and 2040 targets, could lock in low ambition and be an obstacle to achieving net-zero global emissions by 2050, and so contribute to a failure to limit warming to 1.5°C.

As a legacy, COP26 should set out a clear, time-bound and actionable agenda for the next five years of the climate regime. That could be a program of action/process that responds to the lack of ambition in 2021 by providing clarity about the timeline for responding to existing mandates, and greater confidence that the multilateral climate regime and real economy initiatives can converge to respond to the challenge of the climate crisis. A key component of such a program of action/process could be a focus on sector-specific decarbonization through alignment of goals and collaboration between Parties and other actors, with the active participation of ministries responsible for the respective sectors. 

Mobilizing finance

  • How can confidence be built that the $100 billion a year goal will be delivered through to 2025?
After presenting one road map to the US$100 billion back in 2016, and missing the goal in 2020, developed countries have a clear task: deliver on the goal by COP26. This should involve new announcements of increased finance reflecting each country’s fair share, with clear and unambiguous commitments on:
  1. Meeting the goal for the 2020 to 2025 period (with more US$600 billion mobilized during this period) and going beyond US$100 billion in future years to make up for any shortfall in 2020 and 2021, as well as ensure an upward trend to enable more ambitious actions in developing countries on adaptation and emissions reduction throughout the decade.
  2. Establishing a trend towards greater provision of grants as opposed to loans, especially for adaptation measures, as well as avoidance of reliance on the available loopholes in the accounting methods such as accounting for loans, even non-concessional loans as if they were grants, and including entire project financing where only a part is climate related, combined with robust transparency of support system, would also help to build trust and encourage greater ambition.
  • What key questions do Ministers consider need to be addressed in Parties' deliberations on the new collective quantified (post-2025) goal, and what should the key components of the process to be agreed at COP26 be?
Questions that need to be addressed to successfully kick off the negotiations over the new post 2025 goal:
  • Deadline for agreeing on the new goal - a strong case can be made for finalizing it by 2023, so developing countries will have a better idea of the level of financial support available when finalizing their next round of NDCs by 2025. 
  • Agreement on parameters for the scope and scale of the new quantified goal, which should have a specific goal for public finance that will lead to a substantial increase over the current US$100 billion goal.
  • How to ensure a constructive discussion of the contentious question of who pays, in the context of differing levels of responsibility and capacity, and recognizing that developed countries have the primary obligation to provide predictable finance. 
  • How to ensure adequate finance for adaptation, including the possibility of a specific quantitative goal.
  • How to ensure new and additional finance for Loss & Damage, on top of the increased amount for adaptation and mitigation.
Read WWF's COP26 Expectations Paper.
COP26 will be held in Glasgow from 31 October - 12 November 2021.
© COP26