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To: all Parties to the UNFCCC
Today marks 40 days to the official opening of COP26, when I look forward to welcoming all delegates in-person in Glasgow. As last month’s IPCC report set out, the science is clear, there is absolutely no doubt that human activity has warmed the planet. Impacts are being felt worldwide, and without immediate action the effects will only get worse. The UNFCCC NDC synthesis report and OECD’s assessment of progress towards the $100bn have laid bare the scale and urgency of the challenge. They have shown the significant gaps that remain if we are to put the world on track to delivering the Paris goals. Collectively we need to step up. The world is watching and responsibility lies with all of us. We must respond to this challenge in Glasgow.
Our four goals for COP26 show us the way. As I wrote in July, success at COP26 will be judged against our collective efforts to achieve them: through the negotiated outcome, commitments by national governments, and the actions of governments, business, investors, cities and regions, civil society, Indigenous Peoples and youth.
We have heard from all of you how important it is for COP26 to be in person and inclusive. Construction of the venue and the vaccination of delegates who have responded to the UK’s vaccination offer are well underway. You will have also seen my announcement earlier this month that the UK is offering funding for quarantine hotel stays for all accredited delegates arriving from red list countries. More information on COP26 logistics will follow shortly.
I was pleased to welcome many of you to London in late July for a frank and informal exchange on expectations of the Glasgow outcome. At that meeting, Ministers emphasised that Glasgow must keep 1.5°C in reach – addressing the ambition gaps on adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage and finance, and completing the Paris Rulebook. There was a shared recognition of the need for tangible action and support in the critical decade to 2030, and that collectively we are not doing enough.
Next week I look forward to joining Minister Cingolani in Milan to welcome you to Pre-COP – the final key ministerial meeting before COP26. I am very grateful to our Italian partners for their collaboration and careful preparation. We will transition between breakout groups and plenary to discuss: Keeping 1.5°C Alive; Adaptation, Loss and Damage; Article 6; Transparency; Common Time Frames of NDCs and Climate Finance, before a final session on the overall set of expected outcomes from COP26. With so little time left before COP26, I will be encouraging you to build on conversations held in London to reach a shared understanding of expected outcomes from Glasgow. I want to hear your ideas for reaching agreement on all issues. This will require us all to strive for high ambition and move beyond national position.
I have annexed to this letter a list of key elements of the Glasgow outcome that Parties have identified as priorities, and specific questions for each of the breakout groups will follow shortly. Together, these are intended to inform discussions in Milan. As part of our ongoing commitment to transparency and inclusivity I am sharing this letter publicly, and welcome written inputs from any Parties or observer constituencies that wish to provide them (IncomingPresidency@unfccc.int). These will be considered by the incoming presidency and also made available online to help inform conversations. Discussions at Pre-COP will be captured in a Chairs’ Summary to be published online.
Alongside Pre-COP a number of moments mark the road to COP26, including:
- UNGA (New York, 14-30 September): where we are already seeing more new announcements from Parties.
- Youth 4 Climate (Milan, 28-30 September): where almost 400 youth delegates will outline ideas and concrete actions to address climate change and serve as a basis for a dialogue between the youth delegates and ministers at Pre-COP.
- G20 Leaders (Rome, 30-31 October): where we hope the major economies will agree action that keeps 1.5C within reach, including: commitment to net zero by mid-century with aligned NDCs, more climate finance, and accelerated action in the 2020s, including ending unabated coal power and reversing deforestation.
Alongside these moments the UK, together with Chile, will continue to consult Parties at all levels in support of effective negotiations at COP26. With the provisional agendas for the conference now published by the Secretariat, we have also initiated a series of discussions on how to ensure their smooth adoption and enable timely initiation of the negotiations. Early next month, my team and I will publish a dedicated note on procedural matters ahead of a final meeting with all Heads of Delegation before COP26, to ensure negotiators hit the ground running in Glasgow. The UNFCCC website lists consultations held to date and will be updated to reflect the full schedule of presidencies-led events, as plans are finalised.
I am committed to delivering a safe and inclusive COP26. I am grateful for the way in which your teams have continued to work flexibly and creatively to drive progress whilst dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, and for your continued guidance – through key meetings, extensive bilateral engagement and the informal work led by pairs of ministers on my behalf.
The eyes of the world are on all of us to translate political will and positive intentions into concrete commitments and practical action, commensurate with keeping 1.5°C alive. The time is now to come together and deliver, for present and future generations.
The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP
COP President Designate
Annex – Emerging elements of the COP26 negotiated outcome
Set out below are a range of negotiated outcomes and deliverables raised by Parties and non-state actors I have spoken to in recent months as important for the success of COP26. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and does not include the suite of commitments, initiatives and actions expected from Glasgow that fall outside the formal UN climate change process. However, I hope it serves to support further conversations on the overall set of outcomes from COP26 over the coming weeks, including at the Pre-COP in Milan. Elements raised include:
- Critical importance of meeting the $100bn goal and agreement on how the UNFCCC process will take forward work on climate finance, including finance for adaptation, developing country needs, aligning finance flows with Paris, as well as reviewing and giving guidance to multilateral climate funds.
- Agreement of a forward approach for how the new collective quantified finance goal (post-2025) will be set prior to 2025.
- Addressing the gap that exists between NDCs and emissions reductions required by science to keep 1.5 in reach; including a roadmap for strengthening 2030 NDCs as necessary ahead of, and through, the Global Stocktake in 2023.
- Strengthened expectations of all Parties to produce long-term strategies pointing the way to net zero, regularly updated in light of the best available science.
- Political prioritisation of adaptation, including launch of work to drive progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation (GGA).
- Agreement on the development of the Santiago Network on Loss & Damage.
- Agreement on Article 6 rules which uphold environmental integrity, including guidance for cooperation under Article 6.2, a new UN mechanism under Article 6.4 and a work programme on non-market approaches under Article 6.8.
- Adoption of further operational guidance for the Enhanced Transparency Framework to give confidence, legitimacy, clarity and enable comparison, and the importance of support for developing countries to undertake enhanced reporting.
- Agreement on common time frames for NDCs to promote consistency and comparability and support the functioning of the Paris system/architecture.
- Agreement of a new work programme for climate empowerment, education, training, and public awareness, participation and access to information.
- Agreement of a new work programme on local communities and indigenous peoples.
- Outcomes ensuring the institutional architecture is fit for purpose by agreeing the UNFCCC budget, taking forward work on a range of issues from agriculture to response measures, and concluding a large number of reviews of key bodies.
- An improved Marrakesh Partnership that strengthens links with non-state actors, driven by the High Level Champions.
For a comprehensive summary of discussions between the representative group of Ministers participating in the July Ministerial on the Glasgow outcomes, I invite you to read my chair’s summary.