COP26: Will world leaders make commitment out of the box? – Golam Moazzem and Abdullah Fahad

Originally posted in The Daily Star on 1 November 2021


The COP26 began at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow yesterday. The whole world is closely watching how much of their expectation on reducing climate vulnerabilities is being addressed through required actions.

One of the main attractions of the event is the World Leaders Summit, which will take place on November 1-2. A total of 120 world leaders is going to attend this year’s conference and will deliver their conference speech.

Since the last COP (COP25) major changes in key political leadership have taken place in key world economies such as the US and Germany. It is expected that the world leaders will express their commitment “out of the box” to take action against climate change.

On November 1, a number of key world leaders will address the conference, including those from the US, France, the European Council, the European Union, Canada, Japan, India and several Asian countries.

Expectations from world leaders in the Summit

There are a number of expectations from the world leaders that could be termed out of the box and are expected to be reflected in their speeches. A major thrust of that expectation is major world economies will make fresh commitments about climate change.

US President Joe Biden is expected to make a fresh commitment on climate finance if Congress agrees to his “Build Back Better Plan” for spending $800 billion on climate and clean energy. Such mitigation finance would contribute to developing a clean energy base both within the US and around the world.

The leaders of G20 countries met in Rome just before the COP Summit, and it is expected that they would make a fresh commitment. G20 countries need to rebuild their image in meeting their commitments.

Though their pledge to support developing countries in accessing Covid vaccines, made some progress, it was less than what was committed.

The Group needs to unlock trillion dollars of green cash as climate finance. G20 countries need to make a fresh commitment with a view to stopping providing funds for fresh coal projects, and also need to gradually reduce the huge amount of subsidies for fossil fuel.

India, China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia lagged behind in delivering new nationally determined contributions (NDCs) targeting 2030. Similarly, other major economies such as Mexico, Brazil and Australia fell short of the commitment as expected.

Given China’s recent stance on greening the Belt and Road Initiative, it is expected that it will further detail out its plan in the Summit. Indonesia, a major coal-producing country, has made a commitment to abolishing it by 2040.

Expectation from Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Speech

Bangladesh’s prime minister will deliver her speech at the Summit. She will get special attention at the Summit given her commitment to addressing the climate vulnerabilities both at home as well as being the Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

The Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan, developed to shift Bangladesh’s trajectory from vulnerability to resilience and prosperity, is likely to receive special attention.

The Mujib Prosperity Plan has put focus on four strategies: increasing economic growth by maximising resilience with loss and damage financing through locally-led adaptation hubs; strengthening employment in a green economy by promoting green investments for faster job creation, upskilling and protection of workplace against heat; (c) promoting well-being and traditional living to leverage new technologies while protecting the environment; and securing energy independence and energy security with the aim of generating 30 per cent renewable energy by 2030 and at least 40 per cent by 2041 with grid resilience and modernisation.

The prime minister would reiterate her commitment to working on reducing global temperature through various initiatives both at home and abroad, particularly in climate-vulnerable countries. She would put focus on all key issues of COP26.

A major focus in her speech would be adaptation, particularly through reiterating the need for equity in climate funds in terms of allocation between adaptation and mitigation. The issue of loss and damage would also get emphasis given the fact that Bangladesh is disproportionately affected in climate vulnerabilities which are increasingly exposed through floods, cyclones and river erosion.

The government’s recent decision to scrap 10 coal-fired plants will also be reflected in the prime minister’s speech to show the commitment to reducing global carbon emissions.

The prime minister may announce her out of the box commitment. This could happen in case of gradual phasing out of remaining coal-fired power plants. In this case, the prime minister may seek technical and financial support from the Energy Transition Council.

Bangladesh team’s participation in the preparatory process

Over the last weeks, the Bangladeshi team actively engaged in the pre-COP discussion on various issues. A major engagement of the team was extending informal inputs for working notes to be prepared by the Standing Committee on Finance.

Bangladesh team has provided written inputs on long-term finance issues.

This includes revision of different provisions of the Convention with a view to ensuring scaling up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding for developing countries; ensuring a balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation; ensuring that all adaptation finances are in nature of grants; and addressing the challenges for LDCs due to diversion of ODA to climate finance and reducing overall ODA flow.

Other inputs are: developing a clear pathway and trajectory for a new quantified goal for resource mobilisation by 2025; acknowledging the need for climate finance to be country-determined based on the requirement for adaptation and mitigation; ensuring predictability and sustainability of financing and making the contribution to the Green Fund on the basis of assessed contributions from developed countries; ensuring coherence in the distribution of climate fund between project and programme financing; and assessing measurement, reporting and verification of climate finance to be provided by developed country parties.

It is expected that the above-mentioned issues will get attention in the discussion on the long-term financing requirement and will be reflected in the final COP26 document.

The authors are respectively the research director and a senior research associate of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.