Success or Failure?

Hello Members & Supporters,

I don't know about you, but with so many COP26 reports, opinions, and all of the analysis, it's been hard to decipher if it was a success or failure!? To help you decide, we wanted to share the best post-COP26 analysis we could find. It's wonderfully concise, and identifies practical actions we can all do!

Stronger Together 

Rob Waitt
Planet Purbeck 

Was COP26 a success?

There were many announcements that came out of the conference in Glasgow but in terms of judging its success, the devil really is in the detail. 

There’ve been highs and lows, some hail it as a success, others as a failure. It is perhaps best summarized by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres:

"The approved texts are a compromise. They reflect the interests, the conditions, the contradictions and the state of political will in the world today. They take important steps, but unfortunately, the collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradictions."

COP26 laid bare the huge spread in national interests. As negotiations came to a close, pressure mounted to water down commitments on fossil fuels, and coal in particular, while the small island states made clear that anything above 1.5 degrees temperature spelt catastrophe for them.


Interpretation of success depends very much on your aims and perspective.

Below are some of the highs and lows of COP26 to help with the detail:

The Highs:

  • The maximum temperature rise of 1.5 degrees was recognised as the goal, with strong references to the science behind this.
  • Commitment to redouble efforts from wealthy nations on providing climate finance
  • Commitment to restate national targets annually, instead of every 5 years. This is designed to drive action in the 2020s
  • Much of the detail that needed to be agreed upon from the Paris Agreement of 2015 was achieved
  • 133 countries committing to end and reverse deforestation by 2030
  • Over 100 governments pledged a 30 per cent reduction in methane by 2030
  • Commitments from 40 countries to phase out coal-fired power, the most carbon-intensive way of producing electricity
  • US / China Pledge to work together on climate in key areas, including methane
  • Finance sector commitment to align $130 trillion of investment to 1.5-degree goals
  • Nearly 5000 companies, cities, regions and universities commit to halving emissions by 2030 in Race to Zero
  • The end of the combustion engine is in sight, Glasgow Declaration on Zero-Emission Cars and Vans to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets and 2040 worldwide.
  • Public-private alignment on key breakthroughs in clean technologies in five key sectors of the economy – power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture

Lows; for many, COP26 was a failure, reasons for this include:

  • Even if all commitments are implemented, we will still see global warming of 2.4 degrees Celsius, which would be catastrophic
  • Many questions still remain on finance. Wealthy nations have not delivered what they have already committed to, and furthermore, there is a need for a huge amount more
  • Those countries already heavily affected by climate change continue to be frustrated at the slow pace of any plan to recompense them for the damage caused by climate change from those who caused it.

Campaigners have repeatedly expressed concern that commitments do not turn to action, and we need action now to have a chance of hitting 1.5 degrees.

So, was it a success? That will all depend on whether commitments made in Glasgow turn to action, and whether countries are prepared to commit to and deliver on much stronger targets in the next few years.

What can you do?

Why not write to your local politician to encourage them to urge your government to make stronger commitments to achieve 1.5 degrees. And there are lots more step ideas on your personal progress page on Giki Zero if you are keen to influence others too.

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Thank you for reading
The Planet Purbeck Team      
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