COP26 must mark the time we turn the tide on the climate crisis

Posted on October, 30 2021

(30 October 2021) - As the highly anticipated climate COP26 event opens in Glasgow, UK
today, the world is looking to the climate talks to show the implementation of the Paris Agreement can be accelerated to get on track to ensure global warming does not exceed the 1.5°C goal.
COP26 must provide confidence and clarity on a global pathway to achieving the transition to a net-zero-emissions and climate-resilient future and preventing a climate catastrophe. Scheduled from 31 Oct - 12 Nov, it will see climate negotiators meet face-to-face for the first time in 18 months, at a time when scientists are warning us that time is running out to prevent irreversible damage to the planet.
With this in mind, WWF is calling for world leaders to turn their pledges into action and complete the rulebook so that implementation can be accelerated. The urgent call comes as devastating climate impacts all around the world increase in intensity and frequency, devastating ecosystems, lives and livelihoods.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy said: “Leaders hold the world’s collective expectations in their hands. Decisions they make at this pivotal moment will define our future for decades to come. Next year we must be able to move forward into a new era of climate action - one that sees world leaders move together as one to tackle it, if we are to have any hope of keeping warming to 1.5°C - for the benefit of the planet and people.”
There is currently a huge gap in climate ambition to meet Paris Agreement goals.  Just this week the UN Climate Change published the last update to the UNFCCC NDC Synthesis report, capturing the impact of the national climate plans submitted by countries. It finds that under current pledges, there is expected to be an increase in of about 16% in  global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 2010), while limiting warming to 1.5°C requires a 50% cut by 2030. This underscores the urgency and need for big emitting countries to do more.
WWF has identified five key priorities it is calling ‘ambition red lines’, the minimum needed from leaders and all stakeholders who can help to play their part to drive system change and economic transformation:
1. Accelerate decarbonization, now, and fast
Governments, cities, companies, academia, civil society and investors, among others, must, as an urgent priority, move economic systems onto a sustainable footing, shifting away from our dependence on fossil fuels. In doing so, it is vital that workers in unsustainable parts of the global economy, and their families and their communities, are supported – no-one must be left behind.
2. Act on nature-based solutions
Nature-based solutions are initiatives that protect, restore and sustainably manage land and ocean ecosystems such as forests, peatlands, wetlands, savannahs, coral reefs and mangroves. Although they reduce emissions, protect nature and people and create good jobs, they are not a substitute for emissions cuts in other sectors of the economy. Nature should be protected and restored because it absorbs and stores carbon and plays a key role in adaptation/resilience of places and communities.
3. Help nature and people adapt
Governments must escalate their actions to urgently help the world’s most vulnerable people and many vital ecosystems to adapt and build resilience to a rapidly warming world. We must encourage transformational adaptation solutions. Examples of this could be revitalizing rivers, restoring degraded wetlands or relocating human activities in flood plains instead of building dams and dikes, or shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
4. Finance the future
Private sector financial flows need to be aligned with international climate objectives, with capital directed towards low-carbon activities, away from fossil fuels. We must phase out harmful subsidies. More finance must be directed to support local priorities and fund innovative partnerships. Currently, only 10% of climate finance reaches local actors in developing countries. Developing countries must deliver on their $100 billion commitment, and  additional funds should also be made available for vulnerable countries to deal with unavoidable economic and non-economic impacts, known as loss and damage.
5. Pivot to implementation
Sufficient to keep 1.5°C alive, short-term goals must be supplemented by long-term strategies, as required by the Paris Agreement. They must include technically sound and feasible net-zero emissions pledges, with a primary focus on urgent actions to reduce emissions rather than on offsets or unproven technologies.

Notes for Editors
  1. Sign up to receive WWF’s daily COP26 newsletter, What’s Hot in Glasgow. Email 
  2. All WWF’s COP26 media statements will be posted to our website
  3. Visit WWF’s pavilion in Section D, Hall 4 at COP26, or watch the events via livestream on Youtube here.
  4. WWF COP26 Expectations Paper here (and in Spanish here).
  5. WWF COP26 Ambition Red Lines paper (a climate policy manifesto) here (and in Spanish here). 
  6. WWF Expectations Paper on Loss & Damage here.
  7. Anchoring nature in the COP26 text outcomes here.
  8. Unpacking the UNFCCC Global Stocktake for ocean-climate action here.
  9. Coastal and marine ecosystems as nature-based solutions in NDCs here.
The UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, is being held in Glasgow from 31 October - 12 November.
© COP26

Related links