For the past two days, COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, and climate and environment ministers and representatives from more than 50 countries, including Egyptian Minister of Environment Dr. Yasmine Fouad, met to lay the groundwork for success ahead of November’s COP26 negotiations.
With fewer than 100 days to go until the critical UN climate change conference, Mr. Sharma convened the meeting in London to shape the vision of the final outcomes from COP26, and build a “unity of purpose to deliver them”.
The two-day meeting saw major emitters like the US and China in discussion with countries that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as Jamaica, Costa Rica, Rwanda, and The Marshall Islands.
The ministerial meeting covered the UK COP Presidency’s key goal of limiting warming to 1.5C. Topics under discussion included mobilizing climate finance, scaling up efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, loss and damage caused by climate change, and finalizing the “rulebook” for implementation of the Paris Agreement, with a focus on Article 6, which sets out how countries can reduce emissions using international carbon markets and non-market approaches.
Ahead of the meeting, Alok Sharma said:
“We are facing perilous times for our planet and the only way we will safeguard its future is if countries are on the same path. As ministers responsible for tackling climate change, we hold the weight of the world on our shoulders, and the next two days will be nothing short of critical. With Parties coming from differing standpoints and perspectives, the world will be watching to see whether we come together in Glasgow and do what is necessary to turn things around in this decisive decade. So it is essential that together we roll up our sleeves, find common ground and collectively draw out how we will build a greener, brighter future for our children and future generations.”
The UK intended for the informal, closed-door meeting to encourage frank conversations so that parties can find ways forward when they meet again in November.
During the meeting, Egyptian Minister of Environment Dr. Fouad stressed Egypt’s keenness to present its ideas on issues related to climate change, and this is not only limited to being party to the Adaption Action Coalition launched by the UK and Egypt, but to move forward and achieve satisfactory results, especially with regards to achieving a balance between adaptation and mitigation to the effects of climate change.
Fouad added that it is necessary to work on increasing the funding needed for adaptation, including public and grant-based funding while ensuring the provision of continued assistance to developing countries and meeting their needs (finance, technology, and capacity-building support) to implement adaptation projects. She emphasized the need to find ways to ensure the sustainability of the Green Climate Fund.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Sharma reminded ministers that to achieve the goal of keeping 1.5 degrees within reach, countries must put the planet on a path to driving down emissions with mid-century net-zero commitments and ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets; protect people and nature from the impacts of climate change; get finance flowing to climate action, and work together to ensure the negotiations are a success. He also stressed the need for urgent action to phase out coal and internal combustion engine vehicles, as well as to end deforestation.
While the majority of participants attended in person so as to build strong inter-ministerial relationships ahead of Glasgow, the COP Presidency has facilitated virtual participation for those unable to travel to London.