COP26: the EU must step up on climate at home and away

Posted on 29 October 2021

As a globally wealthy region with strong public support for climate action, the EU must step up at COP26.
What’s happening and why does it matter?

Leaders and negotiators from the EU and across the world meet from 31 October - 12 November in Glasgow, UK for the climate summit COP26. 

The climate crisis is worsening rapidly and countries’ pledges are far from enough to bring it under control by keeping global temperature rise to 1.5°C, as agreed in Paris in 2015. 

It is crucial that the summit leads to major changes by all sides, including far greater greenhouse gas emission reductions, financing to help the most vulnerable places, and agreement on the rules of how to cut emissions and report on it. 

All this must be done in a socially fair and environmentally sustainable way. 

What does WWF want to see from the EU?

The EU and its Member States must use COP26 to show higher, faster decarbonisation is possible. And that it is compatible with a developed economy and a fair society. 

The EU must respond to the urgency for action shown in recent scientific reports. It must address the gaps in emissions reductions, adaptation and financing, laying out a pathway to bridge them that protects people and nature.

The EU must push the contribution healthy, protected nature can make both to reducing emissions and adapting to climate change. 

It must build alliances with like-minded countries where possible, to strengthen progressive voices. It should show it is willing to increase its financial help to the most vulnerable regions. 

The EU must try to foster agreement and momentum in meeting the Paris Agreement. This includes finalising remaining areas of the Paris Rulebook, so countries can get on with implementing their commitments. 

The EU must use the momentum of COP26 and the visibility of its role to increase its own ambition at home, notably on the Fit for 55 package.

Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF European Policy Office said:
“As a globally wealthy region with strong public support for climate action, the EU must step up at COP26. It must be ready to lead from the front, but also to be at the side of regions in need. Showing integrity is crucial: the EU’s own plans do not yet match the climate science. It must come prepared for greater commitments and changes at home, as it pushes for more ambition abroad.” 

Invitation to online just transition events: 

On 4 November, WWF is organising three events at COP26 on how to ensure a just transition, starting from 11:00 GMT / 12:00 CET. 

Speakers include Professor Jim Skea  - IPCC working group III co-chair and former chair of Scottish Just Transition Commission; Sharan Burrow - General Secretary, ITUC; Sean De Cleene, World Economic Forum Executive Committee member and Chair of the Innovation Lever of the UN Food Systems Summit; Frances O’Grady, secretary general of the UK Trades Unions Congress; deputy mayors from coal regions in Poland and Bulgaria.

The events can be followed online - more info here

More information:

WWF is calling for the EU to do the following at COP26:
  • Mitigation: So far countries’ pledges - including that of the EU - are way off track to keep temperature rise to 1.5°C
The EU must show that commitments to cut emissions further, increase renewables, and a green pandemic recovery are critical. 

It must use its diplomatic clout to encourage other countries to beef up their plans. It must go further at home.
  • NatureNature plays a crucial role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, yet it is under threat worldwide. 
The EU must ensure nature-based climate solutions and funding for them - like the restoration and protection of oceans, forests and peatlands - is central to the outcome at COP26.

At home, the EU is preparing a draft law on nature restoration. It needs to include strong, binding restoration targets to help address the climate and nature crises.
  • Climate finance: there is a massive gap between what’s been provided and what is needed. Rich countries pledged to give $100 bn by 2020 but this target will not be met before 2023
The EU and Member States must step up their giving and encourage other countries to do likewise.

As a historic big emitter, the EU has a responsibility now to support vulnerable countries as they bear the brunt of the consequences of those emissions.
  • Common time-frames: The EU supports a five yearly climate pledge cycle - providing  other countries agree to it. Getting everyone on board will be crucial to increasing climate action effectively.
The EU must pull out all the stops to persuade other countries to support five year time-frames.
  • Carbon markets: Agreement on the part of the Paris Agreement which deals with carbon markets, ‘Article 6’, must be rapidly reached. This is to ensure a price is put on carbon that makes a rapid difference to emissions. 
The EU must speak out for excluding old credits from the new carbon pricing system and introducing strong rules to avoid double counting and make carbon markets reduce emissions globally. 

Safeguards are also needed to ensure that any climate project upholds and promotes human rights, protects the environment and benefits local communities.
  • Global Stocktake: A comprehensive check on where countries’ emissions reduction progress stands - known as a ‘Global Stocktake’ - is needed to provide meaningful input to the Paris Agreement’s five-year ambition cycle and increase global ambition in light of the latest science. 
  • Just transformation: The move to a sustainable, climate-neutral society must be systemic,  fair and exclude no-one. 
Only by keeping global temperature rise within 1.5℃ can we avoid the worst impacts falling on those who are least responsible for the climate crisis. The EU’s own Just Transition and Recovery Funds must only go to projects that contribute to real 1.5-aligned transitions and which put the needs and values of communities first.

At COP26, the EU must work to ensure climate science-aligned just transition is an integral part of countries’ planning; and must commit financial, technical and advisory support to poorer countries to deliver this. 
  • EU action at home: The EU must prove its credentials on the world stage by committing to stronger action domestically. 
The Fit for 55 package is an opportunity to increase climate and renewable energy ambition, make polluters pay, generate more finance for climate action, push industrial transformation and tighten the EU’s harmful bioenergy rules. 
  • Loss and Damage / adaptation: The EU has so far not reached a position on Loss and Damage. It needs to ensure new and additional finance helps strengthen work to address loss and damage from climate impacts, operationalisation of the UNFCCC’s ‘Santiago Network’ which aims to provide technical help on L&D and ensuring a permanent agenda item for L&D.
More information:

Sarah Azau
Communications Manager - WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 473 57 31 37