COP26: a successful cultural and scientific moment despite great challenges ahead

Mounia Mostefaoui is a PhD student at the Dynamic Meteorology Laboratory (LMD-IPSL) and works on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Monitoring. After having followed several previous COPs, she was invited as a speaker and panelist at the Scientific Pavilion of the Blue Zone of the COP26 negotiations in Glasgow, accredited by the FR delegation and supported by the LMD management to accomplish this mission.


After two weeks of international climate negotiations, the COP26 ended one day late on Saturday 13th of November 2021. It carried some particularly crucial issues, including:

  • The raising of ambitions in the national contributions of States since the Paris Agreement in 2015,
  • Article 6 of the Paris Agreement regarding the carbon market and a transparency framework,
  • Financing of loss and damage for the most vulnerable countries with the promise of developed countries to provide $100 billion per year to smaller countries. A promise not kept in 2020 with only about 80 billion per year.

With global warming already at +1.1°C, there is little hope of staying below +1.5°C by 2100. According to current projections, the 1.5°C threshold should be passed in the years 2030-2040. And the current trajectory, if continued, would lead to +2.7°C of warming based on the national contributions of the Paris Agreement alone (if met). If we also take into account the additional commitments of several countries to achieve carbon neutrality (in 2050 like Europe and the United States, 2060 like China or 2070 like India), we get closer to +2.4°C.

Another major issue at COP26 was the introduction into the final text, known as the “Glasgow Climate Pact”, of fundamental words that were completely absent from the Paris Agreements. In this pact, the terms “fossil fuels” and “coal” appear. However, the scope of this unprecedented presence was lessened at the last minute: at the request of India in particular, which obtained a commitment only to their “gradual reduction” and not their elimination. The Indian Environment Minister argued that with a population of 1.38 billion, 70% of the country’s electricity comes from coal. Consequently, he asked for validation of the term “responsible use of fossil fuels”, which he obtained through democratic consensus. This was to be expected given the failure of the G20 a few days before COP26 to include the notion of phasing out coal. However, this cultural moment after the postponement of 2020 has also led to positive developments. This analysis will be further developed in a COP26 report.

Mounia Mostefaoui