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COP26 World Leaders Summit- Presidency Summary

On November 1st and 2nd, 120 world leaders gathered in Glasgow to kick start a decade of accelerated climate action.

Leaders were joined by civil society, international organisations, businesses and youth to mark the start of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties. Over two days featuring national statements and a series of high-level meetings and events, Heads of State and Government were clear in their determination to take ambitious action to tackle climate change and seize the opportunities of a clean and resilient transition; at COP26 and through the critical decade ahead.

Leaders assembled against the backdrop of the extraordinary challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of climate change already being experienced across the world. Urgency in overcoming this collective challenge was front and centre of discussions, emphasised by the prominence of many of the world’s poorest and most climate vulnerable countries. In the face of this crisis, leaders from across the world came together in solidarity.

Leaders made clear that climate change is a global problem. The world is welcoming in a new era of economic and political partnership with climate action at its heart. The task of the decade will be to deliver the finance, resources and tools to rapidly deliver climate action at scale.

Leaders made clear their expectation for COP26 to accelerate action by 2030.

While recognising every country’s unique circumstances and responsibilities, leaders from all regions spoke about the need to urgently address the gaps in ambition – on mitigation, adaptation and finance – and their determination to do so at COP26 and beyond. Statements from the High Ambition Coalition and Climate Vulnerable Forum both added strong calls for greater ambition.

Across the Summit, leaders outlined what must be achieved in Glasgow; sending a signal to negotiators to work together to accelerate climate action in this crucial decade, stressing the need to drive progress on all issues and conclude the Rulebook to support delivery of the Paris Agreement goals.

Many leaders spoke about the vital importance of charting a path to keep the prospect of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C within reach; including by closing the gap between the current Nationally Determined Contributions to 2030 and requirements of science; revisiting and updating them as necessary.

They issued clear calls to continue to scale up climate finance from all sources, including urgently delivering the $100bn per year goal and deepening work across the financial system to align financial flows with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, they called for agreement on an inclusive approach for setting a new collective quantified goal beyond 2025, fit for purpose for delivering the Paris Agreement. Many spoke about the pressing need for predictable and accessible finance. Some raised the importance of enhanced action in technology development and transfer, and capacity building.

Leaders raised the importance of adapting to the impacts of climate change as a matter of survival and the need to implement the Global Goal on Adaptation. Many highlighted the need for a step-change in finance for adaptation and for the COP26 outcome to show a collective aim to achieve this. Some called for at least a doubling of current funding, towards the balance collectively agreed in Paris.

Many leaders stressed the growing reality of loss and damage associated with climate change, and called for operationalisation of the Santiago Network and greater efforts to ensure international finance and technical assistance is scaled up. 

The Summit showed the Paris Agreement is working and made progress in key areas.

While recognising the need to continue to go further and faster, leaders set out how their countries are doing more; demonstrating how the Paris Agreement is working to increase ambition – on mitigation, adaptation and finance – and how they are acting on the economic and social opportunities this presents.  

They outlined their national targets to reduce emissions. 151 parties have now submitted updated Nationally Determined Contributions, with a further 8 announcing their intention to do so. Almost 90% of global emissions and over 90% of global GDP is now covered by mid-century net zero or carbon neutrality commitments, rising from just 30% of global GDP at the end of 2019.

Going beyond headline targets, leaders explained the steps that their countries are taking to deliver these commitments; including action on coal, cars, cash and trees, among others.

A significant number of leaders spoke about ending coal power. 42 countries have set coal phase out dates and international public finance for coal is coming to an end.

There was a clear commitment to working together to achieve climate aims, including with the private sector, international organisations and civil society. Significant announcements included:

  • Over 40 leaders joined the Breakthrough Agenda, a 10-year plan to work together to create green jobs and growth globally, making clean technologies and solutions the most affordable, accessible and attractive option before 2030 – beginning with power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture.
  • Over 120 countries covering more than 90% of the world’s forests endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests & Land Use committing to work collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030, backed by the biggest ever commitment of public funds for forest conservation and a global roadmap to make 75% of forest commodity supply chains  sustainable.
  • A Just Energy Transition Partnership was announced to support South Africa’s decarbonisation efforts; a powerful example of collaboration between an emerging economy and international partners.
  • The launch of the Global Methane Pledge saw over 100 countries committing collectively to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

Across the two days, it was evident that finance for low-carbon and resilient development continues to increase. However, leaders were clear that this remains far short of the levels needed. Many leaders expressed disappointment that the $100 billion goal would not be met in 2020. Developed countries outlined how the goal will be delivered by 2023 at the latest. Several made new increased climate finance commitments, including for adaptation, meaning almost all have now come forward with new pledges to 2025. 

Many leaders highlighted the severe fiscal pressures they face, exacerbated by the combined threats of climate change and COVID-19. They called for the financial system, including the International Monetary Fund and Multilateral Development Banks, to build on recent progress with greater efforts to respond to the needs of climate vulnerable and developing countries. Several countries outlined how they are supporting a resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 and will increase investment and partnerships for clean and green infrastructure through Build Back Better World.

Leaders highlighted the need for all countries to urgently scale up action to adapt to climate change. A number of developed countries were clear about their commitment to achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation in their climate finance, including through a new Champions Group on Adaptation Finance, and with some committing to 50% adaptation finance. Further support for adaptation was showcased through the African Adaptation Acceleration Programme and a new Infrastructure for Resilient Island States fund. Many leaders spoke about their national and locally-led plans, with 32 countries now having submitted Adaptation Communications or National Adaptation Plans, now representing more than 2 billion people, helping share best practice and mobilise action.

A range of participants representing civil society, youth, indigenous peoples, businesses and international organisations contributed actively throughout the Summit, demonstrating the role that all actors have to play in raising ambition and building a net zero and resilient future.

Leaders sent a clear signal that COP26 must keep 1.5C in reach.

The Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, and COP President, Alok Sharma, called on leaders to empower negotiators to deliver an outcome that responds to the best available science and the demands of people the world over, to urgently accelerate climate action and ensure that finance is flowing to support this transition, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable.  

The United Kingdom, as COP26 Presidency, in partnership with Italy, looks forward to working with all Parties and Observers, building on the momentum and direction set out by leaders to deliver a successful outcome in Glasgow, that leaves no one, and no issue, behind.