The 26th Conference of the Parties
(COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) gets underway in Glasgow on 31 October, with the world leaders’ summit on 1 November. Among the UK presidency’s four stated goals
of COP26 are “secur[ing] global net-zero” by 2050, including by halting deforestation, and “adapt[ing] to protect communities and natural habitats”. Multiple outlets
reported calls by environmental groups to postpone the summit once again due to concerns over vaccine inequity, travel restrictions and quarantine costs. Key priorities for countries include finalising the rules for carbon markets
, climate finance for developing countries, loss and damage, and reducing methane and coal emissions.
Countries are supposed to have submitted revised versions of their “Nationally Determined Contributions”, or NDCs, ahead of COP26 – allowing the first assessment at how the world is progressing towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. A 2020 analysis
of countries’ first NDCs showed that about two-thirds of Paris Agreement signatories “outline[d] intentions of working with ecosystems” for climate change mitigation and/or adaptation. UK prime minister Boris Johnson has called for “bold commitments on coal, cars, cash and trees” at the summit, asking leaders to work to “halt devastating deforestation”, the Press Association
reported, while the Guardian
reported a source inside the UK government calling nature-based solutions “a priority”.
According to the Guardian
, the UK government is “pushing for an ambitious agreement” at the summit on halting deforestation and forest degradation. The paper reported that a “coalition of world leaders” is to announce the new initiative on the second day of COP26 – part of which is scheduled for a leaders’ forum on forests and land use – and that both public and private funding towards stopping deforestation “are expected”. The UK and Indonesia are joint leaders of the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue
, which aims to “develop a shared roadmap of actions” that major agricultural producers and consumers together can take towards protecting ecosystems.
At Glasgow, two UN technical subsidiary bodies will report back on the outcomes of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture
– established at COP23
in Bonn to recognise the role of agriculture in addressing climate change. This report could provide a roadmap for the process going forward. The Glasgow meeting will also serve as the official launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate
), jointly led by the US and the United Arab Emirates. This initiative has a stated goal of pushing for “rapid and transformative climate action in the agricultural sector”, with a particular focus on climate-smart agriculture
. AIM for Climate is supported by more than 30 countries, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO). Earlier this month, the New York Times
reported that more than 30 countries had signed on to the “Global Methane Pledge”. Led by the US and the EU, the pledge has a target of reducing methane emissions from 2020 levels by 30% by 2030. A joint press release from the US and the EU noted that “oil and gas, coal, agriculture and landfills” are all major sources of methane emissions. This pledge will also officially launch at COP26.
Plenary of the Committee on World Food Security
Coming just weeks after the UN Food Systems Summit
(FSS), the 49th plenary session of the UN Committee on World Food Security
(CFS) saw delegates from more than 120 members convene virtually to discuss issues of food security and nutrition. Members discussed the 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World
(SOFI) report, which was released in July and showed a “dramatic worsening” of world hunger in 2020, according to an FAO press release
. The report stated that hunger has increased in both proportional and absolute terms, much of which is “likely related” to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin
(ENB) wrote that in considering the SOFI report’s implications for achieving zero hunger, members “identified a range of actions towards achieving food system transformation”. Jeffrey Sachs
, an economist at Columbia University
, delivered the keynote address at the session. According to ENB, Sachs stressed both the short- and long-term financial commitments needed to achieve the zero-hunger goal by 2030. Sachs “proposed a 2% wealth tax on billionaires” to achieve that end.
One key area of debate at the meeting was the role that the CFS would play in following up on the outcomes of the FSS. ENB reported that members “expressed a range of views” on the issue, ranging from the idea that the CFS should play a key leadership role in following up on the summit to the thought that the CFS should “disassociate itself completely”. ENB noted that, “ultimately, a clear position on the role of CFS in the UNFSS follow-up was not found”. ReliefWeb
wrote that civil society groups – many of whom boycotted
the FSS en masse – remain “deeply concerned” about how the outcomes of the FSS will impact the CFS’s mandate. In an opinion piece published by the Inter Press Service
, Nora McKeon
, a lecturer at Roma Tre University
and the International University College of Turin
who previously worked at the FAO, wrote that a call at the plenary for a “globally coordinated policy response” to the food-security implications of the Covid-19 pandemic was blocked by a “steamroller coalition of big commodity exporters”, including the US.
Climate change fuels food insecurity in Africa: WMO
Climate change worsened food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa, said the State of the Climate in Africa 2020
report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) ahead of COP26. The report summarised important climate trends that highlight Africa’s “disproportionate vulnerability” to climate change and the urgent need for investments in climate adaptation and early warning systems. It was produced as a collaboration between the WMO, the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), international and regional scientific organisations and UN agencies.
FOOD POVERTY: Nearly 98 million people in Africa faced acute food insecurity and needed humanitarian aid in 2020, an almost 40% increase from 2019. By 2030, up to 118 million people who live on less than $2 a day would be exposed to drought, floods and extreme heat if authorities did not act, the report said. In sub-Saharan countries, nearly half the population live below the poverty line and are dependent on climate-sensitive livelihoods, such as herding, rain-fed agriculture and fishing. These countries could further lose up to 3% of their GDP by 2050 to climate change, the report found. In all, Africa would need over $3tn in mitigation and adaptation finance by 2030 to implement country climate pledges. This, the authors said, required “significant, accessible and predictable inflows of conditional finance”.
CLIMATE IMPACTS: The rate at which temperatures rose across Africa was higher than the global average. Last year was in the top eight hottest years on record, it found. While Sudan and Kenya were the worst affected by floods, South Africa reeled under persistent drought. Cyclone Gati – formed in the Bay of Bengal off India – was the strongest storm ever to hit Somalia. While sea level rise rates were consistent with the global average, this rose higher on the Indian Ocean side of the continent. Climate change could make for a snowless Kilimanjaro. The report estimated that the last three African mountains with snow cover could lose it all by the 2040s.
Floods, storms and drought caused the most internal disaster-related displacement on the continent. Almost 12% of all people displaced in 2020 globally were from East Africa and Horn of Africa, where a 2019-20 locust invasion
“of historic proportions” continued to have an impact. The report estimates that 1.25 million people were displaced in conflict-ridden Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, where people were already food insecure and forced to migrate internally and across borders.