Looking ahead to COP26

Blog Post Governance & Diplomacy
Published October 28, 2021

Jason Anderson

Senior Program Director

Cherono Sego

Senior Program Associate

After a year-long delay and months of lingering doubt that it would actually go forward, COP26 in Glasgow is imminent.

It is still anyone’s guess what it will feel like to be in and around the Scottish Events Center, but the momentum of a “normal” COP is increasingly in evidence — there are 25,000 people registered, organizations are planning events, and the focus has shifted to the usual considerations of how to make the outcomes associated with the conference as successful as possible.

Still, the vast inequities in global vaccine availability and the difficulties around travel and safety cast a large shadow. Delegates and observers from the Global South have been put in a terrible bind — they rely on the COP to be the engine of attention and action on climate solutions, but speaking with a diminished voice in those discussions is highly inequitable. ClimateWorks, in coordination with the Climate Emergency Coordination Group and other funders, has extended additional funding to those traveling to the COP to be able to defray additional costs due to flight rerouting, quarantines, and any emergency medical needs. We hope this will help reduce barriers in some measure.

As with previous COPs, the wide array of meetings and events includes everything from official negotiations among governments, to growing public pressure for climate action, official theme day events, side events, and more. This briefing includes below a summary of what to watch for over the coming weeks. You’ll also find a list of events sponsored by ClimateWorks and our partners, as well as links to official schedules that may provide some guidance.

What we are tracking at COP

A major pledge on methane reduction

COP26 will see the official launch of the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030 and limit global warming by 0.2° C by 2050. The initiative is supported by over 20 philanthropies, including numerous ClimateWorks partners, that have pledged over $223 million to reduce methane emissions. Check out philanthropy day at the Methane Moment Pavilion on November 4, including from 13:00-14:00 to celebrate this progress. 

A spotlight on road transportation

The U.K. COP26 presidency is highlighting the need for transportation electrification to meet Paris Agreement targets. The Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Council will meet on Transport Day (November 10) and is expected to launch the Glasgow Declaration on Zero-Emission Vehicles, which will be signed by governments, cities, regions, automakers, fleet owners, and other relevant stakeholders. These efforts are broadly aligned with the ClimateWorks-supported Drive Electric Campaign, and influenced by the strategy and advocacy of our partners.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities’ rights-based climate action

Leaders from Indigenous and local communities will be at COP26 calling for climate solutions that include their rights and tenure. In addition to commitments to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030, a major funding pledge to support Indigenous and local community land rights and tenure is expected.

Focus on climate finance

With the U.K. holding this year’s COP presidency, we expect that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will use the Global Leaders Summit convened on November 1-2 to convince world leaders to raise ambition and action toward net-zero emissions and 1.5° C targets, primarily through scaling up climate finance. The presidency will continue to push Johnson’s bid to secure ambition on climate finance on November 3 in a series of high-level events intended to secure new commitments on climate finance from private and public sector actors.

Meanwhile, in the Blue Zone, country delegates will be stepping up efforts to conclude negotiations on the Paris rulebook under Article 6 of the Agreement. At the top of the agenda will also be to review the goal of $100 billion per year in climate finance to be provided by wealthier nations (which is yet to be fulfilled). Perhaps the bigger finance story, though, is in the financial markets, where investors are converging on the trillions needed to shift every sector toward a net-zero emissions economy, and governments are taking responsibility for Paris-alignment of the financial markets — from Wall Street to Tokyo.

New and updated Nationally Determined Contributions

Countries are expected to deliver outstanding Nationally Determined Contributions announcing their emissions reduction targets to be achieved by 2030. We hope to see more countries announce targets of net-zero emissions by 2050, including more details on how such targets will be met.

The launch of the Global Stocktake

This year will see the first-ever Global Stocktake (GST), the formal process established under the Paris Agreement to periodically take stock of collective progress toward its long-term goals on climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance.

To ensure that the Global Stocktake is as effective as possible, the Independent Global Stocktake (iGST), a consortium of civil society actors, will bring together the independent community to push together for a robust GST that empowers countries to take greater climate action.

Other side events

Adjacent to the negotiations will be the official side events, some of which we recommend, below. Outside the official Blue Zone, climate advocates will host numerous events to raise ambition and action, and to demonstrate innovative technologies to tackle climate change. The New York Times is putting on a series of fantastic events at its COP26 climate hub while the COP’s Green Zone, which is open to the public, will host a profusion of events, from planetarium exhibitions, musical and artistic performances, cinematic screenings, and talks, to mass protests.

Events and exhibitions to look out for

ClimateWorks at COP

Reimagining Climate Governance Networking Reception 

Monday November 8, 2021, 17:00 – 19:30, Citation,Glasgow

ClimateWorks is hosting an evening reception with two leading thinkers on the present and future of our response to the climate crisis. The event will be an opportunity to meet with colleagues in philanthropy and partners to discuss the events of the COP and beyond. You can find more information here

On the Road to COP 27: Achieving an Equitable Just Transition on the Road to COP 27 and Beyond (By Invitation Only)

Monday, November 8, 2021, 08:00-13:00, CitizenM Glasgow 

Organized by the ClimateWorks Governance and Diplomacy initiative in collaboration with the Africa Group of Negotiators Expert Support team, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, this side event will serve as an open participatory forum for Africa-focused non-governmental organizations to explore ways in which next year’s COP27 can deliver an enduring, just, and equitable transformation. The future summit is scheduled to be hosted by an African nation in November 2022. For more information, contact ClimateWorks Governance and Diplomacy program here.

Sustainable and Efficient Cooling for a Warming Planet: Challenges, Opportunities, and Solutions

Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021, 16:45—18:00, Multimedia Studio 3

As the planet warms, the need for sustainable cooling for all is growing. This event examines how the cooling sector can improve climate outcomes through end-of-life disposal of hydrofluorocarbons, improved efficiency, and increased speed and ambition to phase out high global warming refrigerants.

Speakers will include ministers from Japan, France, Moldova, Vietnam, and Rwanda, and representatives from the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, U.N. Environment Programme (ED) and GREE.

Integrating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants into Climate Action

Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021, 16:45—18:00, Multimedia Studio 2

This session will focus on the importance of integrating Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly the phasedown of black carbon and reducing methane by 45% to stay on a safe path to achieving 1.5⁰ C. Speakers will include Cherono Sego from ClimateWorks, Drew Shindell of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Her Excellency Rachel Ruto of the Republic of Kenya, Her Excellency Samira Bawumia of the Republic of Ghana, UNEP, and the World Biogas Association.

Building an inclusive Global Stocktake: How civil society can help assess climate progress

Thursday, 11 Nov 2021  16:45—18:00, Multimedia Studio 2

The Global Stocktake is a key mechanism to raise ambition across mitigation, adaptation, and finance, and in light of equity and the best available science. Non-party inputs can help build up the political momentum within the GST to trigger nationally enhanced ambition. Organized by the ClimateWorks-convened Independent Global Stocktake, this event will feature speakers from the University of Maryland, Council on Energy, Environment and Water, UNEP DTU Partnership, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Overseas Development Institute, Imperial College, University of Cape Town, Climate Equity Reference Project, World Resources Institute, and Iniciativa Climática De México.


Click here to see other exciting events from our global network of partners and grantees. We’ll update this list throughout COP26, so be sure to check back.