WRI research and engagement helped secure an impactful outcome at COP26. The Glasgow Climate Pact pushes countries for more ambitious emissions cuts, while leaders from 141 countries announced unprecedented action on forests and land use.

The Challenge

In the face of increasingly severe climate impacts — fires, droughts, floods and extreme weather — research shows the world needs to cut its emissions in half by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050. Despite this urgency and the economic benefits of taking climate action, most countries, businesses, states and cities have yet to make the changes required to secure a better future. Many decision-makers are also overlooking the critical role nature-based solutions play in reducing emissions and building resilience.

The UN climate negotiations in Glasgow in November 2021, known as COP26, provided a key moment to ramp up global climate action.

WRI’s Role

WRI’s experts have engaged heavily with negotiators and participants at COPs over many years to build trust, identify impactful recommendations, and elevate the voices of key partners. These activities ultimately helped shape the COP26 outcome.

In the two years prior to COP26, WRI seconded two of its employees as advisers to the UK’s COP26 Presidency, who were actively involved in the government’s preparations for COP26, including informing its nature agenda.

Since 2016, WRI produced numerous research papers, articles and events on national climate plan (NDC) enhancement, long-term climate strategies, and key elements of the Paris Rulebook. WRI experts tracked countries’ climate commitments, advocated for stronger emissions-reduction targets, and pushed countries (especially the EU) to adopt helpful negotiating positions ahead of the COP26 summit. In September 2021, the Allied for Climate Transformation by 2025 (ACT2025), a consortium coordinated by WRI, published a collective “Call for Action,” laying out five areas essential for reaching an ambitious and just outcome at COP26.

WRI experts also engaged heavily in efforts to advance nature-based solutions at COP26, including through the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use; the Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Dialogue; and the Policy Action Agenda on Sustainable Agriculture.

The Outcome

COP26 advanced global climate action and spurred significant new commitments to nature-based climate solutions.

The final Glasgow Climate Pact urges countries to ramp up their 2030 emissions-reduction targets and put forward long-term climate strategies; mandates that developed countries deliver $100 billion in annual climate finance and establish a larger finance goal after 2025; and promises to double adaptation finance by 2025 compared to 2019 levels.

Delegates reached consensus that countries should help vulnerable nations deal with losses and damages from climate impacts. Negotiators finalized rules for implementing the Paris Agreement — which derailed previous climate summits — including transparency regulations, a common timeframe for NDCs and carbon markets. And by the close of the summit, more than 150 countries submitted new NDCs to slash emissions by 2030.

Breaking with past practice, COP26 also brought unprecedented focus on the role of nature, forests, agriculture, land use and the ocean in mitigating and adapting to climate change. 

Leaders from 141 countries committed to action on forests and land use, backed by $19 billion in public and philanthropic money, under the Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land Use. Under the Forests, Agriculture and Commodity Trade Dialogue, 28 top agricultural nations agreed to eliminate deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains. Sixteen governments committed to sustainable agriculture through the Glasgow Breakthrough on Agriculture and the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate. And investors committed to shift at least $8 trillion in assets from portfolios linked to deforestation into forest-positive investments. These announcements reflect considerable progress; the world we be watching to see if leaders turn their commitments into action in the coming years.