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Hopes for the COP26 negotiations


It’s now only a few days until COP26, and after almost two years of preparation, the University of Leeds have more than 40 staff and students headed to Glasgow to observe and support the negotiations. We asked our COP26 delegation and the wider University community about their hopes and messages for the COP26 negotiations.

International Momentum – ACT NOW!

We want to see global cooperation and coordination bring hopeful positive messages, quickly followed by measurable and sizable actions to reduce emissions and protect and restore the natural world.  For COP26 to be a success, all Parties must make good on their previous commitments. The gap between pledges and actions is critical, and for the negotiations this means finalising the Paris Rulebook on the timeframe towards net zero emissions.

We want to see commitment to concrete actions with a clear and ambitious timeframe that is up to the challenges we are facing. Parties must commit to and demonstrate feasible ways to implement emissions reductions which will enable the world to stay on track to remain below 1.5°C of warming. Without this international momentum, there is insufficient imperative for governments to take the difficult choices necessary to change the path we are currently on.  We want to see more recognition of the co-benefits that can be realised through well-planned climate action. This will provide additional political and financial imperative to deliver on those actions.

Universities have a major role to play in tackling the climate crisis, including providing major contributions to the evidence base from rapid global action and the potential solutions to the climate crisis. The University of Leeds will continue to work with local, national and international partners to shift the world rapidly to net-zero emissions and avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Deliver on financial commitments

We want to see delivery of a financial plan of solidarity among developed and developing countries. This must begin with the Global North making good on their promise to provide $100 billion dollars per year of new and additional financial support to the Global South, as well as strong rules on what gets to count as “new and additional” climate finance. A key ambition in the provision of climate finance should be building the capacity of local communities to deliver and maintain adaptation and mitigation projects in their local areas.

A fair and just transition

The principles of equality and equity must remain paramount throughout the negotiations.  We want to see a future where we avoid dangerous climate outcomes in a fair and just way. This will need not only more ambitious global reductions in emissions, but also more rapid implementation of suitable adaptations as some further climate change is now unavoidable. A just transition will involve recognising the importance of local knowledge in adapting to and mitigating climate change, and genuine engagement of actors across all of society including young people who have tremendous potential for mobilisation on climate action.

A beginning, not the end

We want to see the issues raised during COP26 remain high up on the political agenda once the summit has been and gone. COP26 is an incredibly important moment in time – but political action and media coverage on climate change shouldn’t begin and end with COP26.  This will require a sense of agency and a more tangible vision to give people hope that a better world is possible.

Limiting warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels is still scientifically possible; but it rests on whether our leaders can be brave enough to take decisive action, make ambitious commitments and set bold timeframes to allow this to happen. We hope that COP26 marks a point at which politicians step up, come together, and turn words and commitments into action.

This blog was written by Dr Shona Smith (Research and Innovation Development Manager, Priestley International Centre for Climate) using responses from University of Leeds COP26 attendees on their hopes for COP26, and messages from the wider University of Leeds community that the University of Leeds delegation will take to COP26. Watch the recording of our webinar: ‘University of Leeds at COP26’