COP26: World leaders make pledges to kick start accelerated climate action

9 November 2021

Announcements by world leaders on day three of COP26 have perhaps signalled a clear shift from ambition to a desire for immediate action. Some countries have made unprecedented commitments to protect forests, reduce methane emissions and accelerate green technology. 

114 leaders took a landmark step forward by committing to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030. The pledge is backed by $12bn in public and $7.2bn in private funding. 

Countries including Canada, Russia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all endorsed the ‘Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use’. Together, they support  85% of the world’s forests, an area of over 13 million square miles which absorbs around one third of global CO2 released from burning fossil fuels each year. 

These announcements were boosted by a commitment of CEOs from more than 30 financial institutions with over $8.7 trillion of global assets – including Aviva, Schroders and Axa – to commit to eliminate investment in activities linked to deforestation.   

105 countries, including 15 major emitters Brazil, Nigeria and Canada, signed up to the Global Methane Pledge. This commitment, led by the US and EU alongside the UK COP26 presidency, equates to up to 40% of global methane emissions and 60% of global GDP.

More than 35 world leaders have also backed and signed up to the new Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda that will see countries and businesses work together to dramatically scale and speed up the development and deployment of clean technologies and drive down costs this decade. Signatories include the US, India, EU, developing economies and some of those most vulnerable to climate change – collectively representing more than 50% of the world’s economy and every region.

The aim is to make clean technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice for all globally in the most polluting sectors by 2030, particularly supporting the developing world to access the innovation and tools needed for a just transition to net zero.

Work will focus on five key sectors – power, road transport, hydrogen, steel and agriculture – which together represent more than half of total global emissions and further demonstrates how countries are moving from commitments to tangible action.

Leaders signed up to the Glasgow Breakthroughs also committed to discussing global progress every year in each sector starting in 2022 – supported by annual reports led by the International Energy Agency in collaboration with International Renewable Energy Agency and UN High Level Champions – and annual discussions of ministers across government convened around the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerials. This ‘Global Checkpoint Process’ will seek to sustain and continually strengthen international cooperation across the agenda throughout this decade.

Support for Africa

Leaders from South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany and the European Union announced a ground-breaking partnership to support South Africa with an Accelerated Just Energy Transition.

As a first step, the international partnership has announced that $8.5 billion can be made available over the next 3-5 years to support South Africa – the world’s most carbon-intensive electricity producer – to achieve the most ambitious target within the country’s ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution.

A package of support, bringing together private sector finance and public sector expertise to scale-up African climate adaptation projects, providing life-saving support in the face of climate shocks protect the most vulnerable. 

New initiatives

In the coming days world leaders, CEOs and philanthropists are expected to launch a series of new initiatives in support of the Glasgow Breakthroughs, including:

  • The launch of the UK-India led Green Grids Initiative – ‘One Sun One World One Grid’, endorsed by over 80 countries, to mobilise political will, finance and technical assistance needed to interconnect continents, countries and communities to the very best renewable sources of power globally to ensure no one is left without access to clean energy.
  • AIM4C, a new initiative led by the USA and UAE, with over 30 supporting countries, committed to accelerating innovation in sustainable agriculture, having already gathered $4 billion in increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, including $1bn from the USA.
  • The Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, headed by Bill Gates, a programme aiming to raise $3bn in concessional capital to catalyse up to $30bn of investments in bring down clean technology costs and create markets for green products for green hydrogen, Direct Air Capture, long-duration energy storage and sustainable aviation fuel including £200m of UK support.
  • The First Movers Coalition, a US-led buyers club of 25 major global companies making purchasing commitments to help commercialise key emerging clean technologies across hard-to-decabonise sectors like steel, trucking, shipping, aviation, aluminium, concrete, chemicals, and direct air capture.
  • India, Thailand, Nepal, Nigeria and Vietnam have made new net zero pledges which means that 90% of the global economy is now covered by net zero commitments. India’s announcement also included a suite of ambitious 2030 commitments, including 500 GW non-fossil fuel power capacity, 50% energy requirements from renewable sources and 45% reduction of the carbon intensity of the economy. 



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