Vapour rises from cooling towers in distance on hazy day with grass in front, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Vapour rises from cooling towers in South Africa. Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg Creative Photos / Getty Images.

As 120 heads of state gather at the COP26 climate talks this week, the world is watching to see if global leaders will rise to the challenge of addressing climate change in time. SEI Senior Research Fellow Chris Malley is attending the conference and shares his thoughts:

“The reason this conference is so important is because it's the first time that countries are submitting climate plans since the Paris Agreement.”

The Paris Agreement is a legally binding treaty on climate change, adopted by 196 parties in 2015. It has the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. On meeting the Paris Agreement, Chris says:

“There is a huge gap between what countries signed up to in 2015 and what they have included in their climate plans now. It is estimated that current climate plans will lead to a 9% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030, but we need to halve greenhouse gases by 2030 to reach the 1.5°C goal.”

Chris goes on to talk about the Global Methane Pledge, a pledge to be announced by the US and EU to reduce methane by 30% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. Countries are being called upon to join the pledge to limit the impact of methane, a greenhouse gas that has a climate change impact 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

SEI researchers were authors of the 2021 UNEP/CCAC Global Methane Assessment, which showed that the benefits of fast and deep cuts in methane emissions have benefits not only for climate change, but also reduces ozone air pollution, and improves human health.

Listen from 7:10am GMT (1:11:38–1:17:20 in the player; available until 29 November 2021.

SEI has supported 12 countries to enhance their climate change mitigation plans in their nationally determined contributions submitted ahead of the Glasgow COP26 meeting, including through the inclusion of additional actions in the biggest methane emitting sectors, oil and gas, agriculture and waste.