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Insights from COP26: Day 9 - Gender, Science & Innovation Day

By Andrew Adie
09 November 2021
Green & Good (ESG and Impact)

By Andrew Adie

In the final days of the COP26 negotiations, the pressure is really mounting. Climate Action Tracker this afternoon published its analysis of countries’ pledges on greenhouse gas emission reductions and says the world is heading towards 2.4C of warming by the end of this century. This is based on analysis of the short-term pledges to hit milestones for 2030 (which are critical if we are to ‘keep 1.5 alive’, and which many would argue is reflective of what is actually being delivered rather than longer term pledges which have a more aspirational quality).

The findings from the highly respected Climate Action Tracker sit in contrast with earlier more positive statistics from the IEA which said the pledges made at COP26, if implemented, could cut global warming to 1.8C (but this was based on longer term commitments to the end of the century).

It’s a point that activists and others are grasping onto as they call for the politicians to do far more to ‘keep 1.5 alive’, and to deliver meaningful goals leading up to 2030.

As the negotiations enter their final days (and nights) delegates are looking at the compromises that could be made, allegedly including requiring countries that aren’t prepared to commit to 1.5C now to support stronger targets next year.

A key sticking point remains the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions with China and Saudi Arabia reported to be unhappy about proposals that measure emissions reductions per unit of GDP. Attempts to strengthen commitments to limit warming to 1.5C are also reported to require far faster decarbonisation and switching from fossil fuels.

Gender, Science and Innovation Day has focused heavily on the negative impact of climate change with a number of rather depressing updates including:

  • A Met Office study has found that 2C global warming would result in a significant spike in the number of people suffering from heat and humidity stress (which can be fatal) saying the numbers affected will rise from around 68 million today to around one billion. By 2070 summer temperature in the UK could rise and see 30C on consecutive days and rain flow could also increase by 35%
  • Findings from the Lancet Countdown report found that in 2019, 345,000 people over the age of 65 died from heat exhaustion, a record high
  • Today has also heard about the impact of climate change on women and girls who are disproportionately impacted. Speakers have highlighted increasing domestic violence as families feel the stresses of increasing poverty and hardship as a result of climate change. The role of women in searching for food and water and having to market produce in regions that are experiencing drought, floods and extreme weather has also been discussed.
  • In addition, ‘Little Amal’, the puppet of a Syrian refugee which has journeyed 8,000 km from Syria through Europe to be at COP26 has also highlighted the plight of those forced to flee as a result of climate change and conflict
  • US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also arrived in Glasgow today with a delegation of Democratic politicians and used her first speech to highlight that women and indigenous communities are facing the brunt of hardship in areas most impacted by climate change

There have also been some signs of progress with the UK government announcing £165m to tackle the gender inequalities caused by climate change, and 22 countries and the European Commission announcing Mission Innovation to unite investors, governments, and NGOs to invest in clean energy technology.

Today’s developments are unlikely to help sleep-deprived diplomats to rest easy. The pressure is growing for breakthrough announcements at the end of this week that enable COP26 to deliver its mission of commitments to limit global warming to 1.5C. Based on developments in the past 24-hours there is still much to do.