COP 26 was only starting when many concerns were already being expressed about its effectiveness in limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
The results of COP 26, even if it confirms a certain amount of progress, are nevertheless well below what is considered necessary by scientists to reach the Paris Agreement goals.
However, it is important to remember the role that COPs can play in the fight against climate change. These events are part of a cycle of international negotiations. Delegations from different countries meet to agree on texts discussed beforehand. From a legal point of view, these texts come under international public law, which is particularly fragile. There are no authorities to judge States that do not respect their commitments. Thus, in order to ensure that the commitments made by the various States are respected, it is necessary to ensure that they are then written into the various national laws that govern them.
Moreover, the operational conditions for the implementation of the various commitments are generally not specified, to rally the support of a large number of countries. This is also justified by the diversity of national situations, which may prevent the adoption of concrete actions, apart from major emblematic measures. It is left to the judgment of each State to organize the implementation and application of the objectives. All of these elements can lead to a significant level of frustration for many observers.
Finally, the complexity and difficulty of the international diplomatic mechanism have, in contrast, highlighted the strong dynamics of the commitment of private actors (companies and financial actors) around international initiatives (e.g. Science Based Targets) and coalitions of committed players.
With this expert opinion, I Care analyses the main methodological features and highlights some questions which are yet to be answered, and into which the current experiment should offer some insights: YWCA #15: COP 26: Half empty or half full?
This expert opinion, written in November 2021 by Margaux Jacob and Margaux Le Naour, is part of a series of publications called “Yes We Care About” that is published by I Care, and which can be found in the “Expert Opinions” section by clicking here.