How much the world achieved at the Glasgow climate talks – and what happens now – depends in large part on where you live.
In island nations that are losing their homes to sea level rise, and in other highly vulnerable countries, there were bitter pills to swallow after global commitments to cut emissions fell far short of the goal to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F).
For large middle-income countries, like India and South Africa, there were signs of progress on investments needed for developing clean energy.
In the developed world, countries still have to internalize, politically, that bills are coming due – both at home and abroad – after decades of delaying action on climate change. The longer the delay, the more difficult the transition will be.
Annual climate summits are a flurry of new corporate commitments, and Glasgow was no exception. However, what set this year apart was the level of skepticism from participants, activists and even companies about whether these pledges would result in sufficient and measurable action. The world is expected to reach a 1.5 degrees C rise by the early 2030s, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Whether we limit warming to this level and prevent the most severe climate impacts depends on actions taken this decade.
Business can be a force for good, innovating and scaling solutions to climate change. Or it can perpetuate outdated systems that profit from practices that threaten our collective future. In a speech given at the climate summit, Ugandan youth activist Vanessa Nakate urged corporate leaders to, “Show us your trustworthiness. Show us your honesty. I am here to say: Prove us wrong.”
So, what did the private sector promise at this year’s conference? These are three key topics that stood out for us at COP26.