When the gavel came down on the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow, governments of nearly 200 countries agreed to a generally common understanding of the global climate crisis, along with some – though not all — of the means to combat it.  Read the Glasgow Climate Pact here.

The COP26 summit was designed to ensure participating countries continued to advance the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Pact from the summit keeps momentum building behind addressing the climate emergency. At WCS, we are encouraged by the world’s nations committing to end deforestation, reducing methane emissions, limiting coal use, increasing financial help for developing countries, and reaffirming resolve toward the 1.5 degree goal.

The following statement was issued by Dan Zarin, WCS Executive Director for Forests and Climate Change:

“At WCS, we are encouraged by the clarity of understanding of the climate emergency reflected in the Glasgow Climate Pact and by the intent to rapidly ratchet ambition to meet that understanding. But the Glasgow Climate Pact does not mean that the world has solved the climate crisis.

“To stay under the 1.5 degree increase, the world needs to reduce CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030, relative to 2010 emissions. But CO2 emissions remain on an upward trajectory, following a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At current emission rates, we have about a decade before we’ll have lost any chance of staying under the 1.5 degree increase, even if we completely halted new emissions after that.

“Unfortunately, full implementation of country emission reduction pledges submitted to date (known as “nationally-determined contributions” or “NDCs”), would result in emissions considerably higher than that 2010 benchmark, rather than the 45 percent reduction we need. So the Pact calls on countries to strengthen their NDCs by the end of next year and proposes an annual synthesis of the NDC data along with an annual ministerial roundtable on pre-2030 ambition.

“There are many more details contained in the Glasgow Climate Pact and accompanying COP decisions. But what matters most is what countries, and corporations, do next – to quickly and drastically reduce and then phase out greenhouse gas emissions from every sector of the economy and to protect forests that are sponging nearly a third of our CO2 emissions from the atmosphere each year.

“The Pact emphasizes ‘the importance of protecting, conserving, and restoring nature and ecosystems to achieve the Paris Agreement temperature goal, including through forests and other terrestrial and marine ecosystems acting as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and by protecting biodiversity, while ensuring social and environmental safeguards.’ This emphasis on protecting nature also helps to combat the world’s extinction and zoonotic health crises.

“Our climate depends on forests acting as a CO2 sponge, removing from the atmosphere about 30 percent of the CO2 we emit each year — roughly equivalent to all of China and Russia’s annual fossil fuel emissions combined. We would be about ½ degree warmer without this sponge. More if we account for non-CO2 impacts of tropical forests on climate. Evan an extra ½ degree of warming would cost the global economy, at a minimum, tens of trillions of dollars, and its impacts would also further impoverish the world’s remaining wild places.

“At WCS, we understand that to successfully mitigate the climate emergency, governments and businesses need to rapidly do two things: Drastically reduce emissions in every sector of the global economy – including energy, industry, transportation, buildings, and agriculture – and protect the forests that are protecting people and planet from even worse impacts of carbon pollution.”



WCS Releases and Statements from CoP26 in Glasgow, Scotland

Oct 15, 2021: CoP26 Cheat Sheet

Nov 1, 2021: Climate Change will Triple Impact to World’s Life Zones Unless Emissions Reduced

Nov 2, 2021: Statement: Deforestation Commitments

Nov. 2, 2021: LEAF Coalition and Carbon Credits

Nov. 2, 2021: Protecting Our Planet/Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Support

Nov 2, 2021: Protecting our Planet Challenge

Nov 4, 2021: Climate Adaptation Finance

Nov. 4, 2021: Legacy Landscapes

Nov 5, 2021: Framing our Future Launch

Nov. 8, 2021: Canada’s Fragile Peatlands

Nov. 8, 2021: Release of New Climate Adaptation “Scorecard”

Nov. 11, 2021: WCS statement on draft COP26 decision proposed by UK Presidency