Explained: Key things to watch for at COP26

Representatives from nearly 200 countries will convene in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of October for the COP26 conference to strengthen action against global warming.

In the midst of extreme weather events around the world and following a United Nation’s climate report which warned that global warming was spiraling out of control, the actions of governments at this conference will determine whether it’s a success.

Here are some of the issues that need to be resolved.

Six years ago in Paris, countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius – ideally 1.5.

To do this, emissions need to be cut in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by mid-century.

This year is the deadline for all 191 parties of the Paris Agreement to make steeper emissions cut pledges – called nationally determined contributions or NDCs.

However, a U.N. analysis found that while 113 countries were on track to lower their emissions together by 12%, the available NDCs of all 191 countries equates to a 16% increase in greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.

Around 120 countries have submitted revised NDCs, but there is a lack of consistency in plans.

Negotiators need to agree upon common timeframes and approaches for future emissions cuts.

In 2009, developed countries agreed to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing nations deal with the impacts of climate change.

However, the most recent data from the OECD shows that in 2019, $79.6 billion was raised for vulnerable countries, up from 2% in 2018.

Not meeting the $100 billion a year goal can break down trust at the climate talks, experts say.

A new finance goal needs to be worked out for 2025 onwards.

The UK COP26 president, Alok Sharma, has said he wants this conference to be the one where coal power is consigned to history.

The U.N. has called for phasing out coal by 2030 in OECD countries, but environment ministers from the Group of 20 big economies have failed to agree to a timeline.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement covers the role of carbon markets.

It calls for “robust accounting” to avoid “double counting” of emissions reductions.

It also aims to establish a central U.N. mechanism to trade carbon credits from emissions reductions generated from low-carbon projects.

But it has not yet been resolved.

Progress on Article 6 broke down at the last talks in 2019, and will need to be addressed.

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