COP26 Diplomatic Briefing: The Shifting Politics of the Climate Negotiations

 Where do we stand five years after Paris and one year before COP26?

Research event
9 December 2020 — 1:30PM TO 3:00PM

The 12th of December 2020 marks the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. It comes at a critical juncture. According to the IPCC, emissions need to fall by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels – and reach net-zero around mid-century – if we are to limit the rise in the global average temperature to 1.5 degrees.

But emissions have increased in most years since 2015, and the ambition of the national climate pledges submitted in conjunction with the adoption of the Paris Agreement fall significantly short of what is required. COP26 in Glasgow will be a critical moment for countries to increase their efforts to avert catastrophic climate change.

Global cooperation lies at the heart of the Paris Agreement, but over the last few years the relationships between the world’s three largest emitters – China, the EU and the United States – have deteriorated. The US, which cumulatively has emitted more than any other country, left the Paris Agreement on the 4th of November. But the outcome of the recent US election has the potential to reset not just climate diplomacy but geopolitics more broadly.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged that the US will re-join the Paris Agreement, reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and ‘lead a major diplomatic push to raise the ambitions of countries’ climate targets’.

The EU is, meanwhile, increasingly taking a leadership role in global climate action and key emitters like China, Japan and South Korea recently made ambitious long-term climate commitments. Perhaps most radically, the EU and President-elect Biden are exploring taxing carbon within imported goods.

The ninth event in the Chatham House COP26 Diplomatic Briefing Series will analyse the shifting politics of the UN climate negotiations, focusing especially on the roles and priorities of the world’s three largest emitters – China, the US, and the EU – and their relationships with each other.

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