Political leaders took to the stage on the first formal day of COP26, with numerous statements and a couple of surprises along the way. Negotiations started in earnest in the contact groups, with Article 6 discussions covering some familiar territory but also raising a few new issues.
The High-Level segment of the talks saw numerous calls for more widespread carbon pricing, led by the UN, Germany, Canada and even Prince Charles, who said “putting a value on carbon [would make] carbon capture solutions more economical.”
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a net zero target in 2070 for his country, as well as pledges to ramp up renewables, lower the country’s carbon intensity, and cut emissions by 1 billion tonnes by 2030.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered on an election pledge from earlier this year, by announcing a commitment to cap oil and gas emissions and to bring those industries to net zero by 2050.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded a word of warning, saying that there is a “deficit of credibility and a surplus of confusion over emissions reductions and net zero targets, with different meanings and different metrics.” Guterres said he is setting up a group of experts to develop ways to measure and analyse net zero commitments from non-state actors.
Statements from political leaders will continue on Tuesday but, away from the plenary halls, technical negotiations are already underway. IETA was fortunate to be one of the very few observers admitted to the room when the Article 6 contact group got under way today.
Negotiators agreed that new Article 6 texts should be produced and these should be available overnight; we will share links to the new documents as soon as they're available.
These texts will form the basis for the rest of the week’s work, with the goal of completing the discussions by Saturday. As we highlighted in yesterday's briefing, though, negotiators are also working with an informal “options paper” that was circulated by the chair of SBSTA before COP, that lays out the main areas of contention.
Article 6 specialists opened their discussions with negotiating blocs and individual countries setting out their positions, many of which were fairly familiar to long-time observers of these talks. Our observers in the room say very few new elements were raised; some parties started to make specific proposals or made clear what they wanted to see in the text, but generally the interventions by the groups and the individual parties were statements of well-known positions.
As expected, the main issues are Share of Proceeds – and whether it should apply to both Articles 6.2 and 6.4 – corresponding adjustments, and the CDM transition into the Article 6.4 mechanism. There is also increasing interest in how to treat non-quantifiable emissions reductions, and an interesting discussion is developing over how to define ambition in this regard.
There were also calls from several groups for a capacity building programme to be established immediately to help developing countries prepare for Article 6.2.
On Article 6.4, the Arab Group called for no limitations on the eligibility of former CDM projects in the new mechanism. It did offer a compromise by suggesting a cut-off date based on the “generation date” or vintage of Certified Emission Reductions, but this was dismissed by the Environmental Integrity Group (Mexico, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Georgia) as impractical.
The Arab Group also pressed for Overall Mitigation of Global Emissions (OMGE) to apply to both Articles 6.2 and 6.4. Under the OMGE proposal, each transfer of reductions would be subject to a “haircut”, which would then be cancelled to ensure an overall reduction in emissions.
Brazil reiterated many of its existing positions on issues, though it is not immediately clear how rigid its “red lines” may be in the context of recent media reports. At the same time, China was conspicuously low-key at this first meeting, refraining from expressing any strongly-held positions.
Tuesday at the IETA Business Hub
IETA’s side event programme shifts into high gear on Tuesday, with events both in and outside the COP26 Business Hub.
IETA's BusinessHub programme officially kicked off on Monday - events included the first of the Impact Investing Forum, organised by the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN), Bakrie & Brothers, Indika Energy, GIPA
We had hoped to be able to welcome world leaders including Canada's Justin Trudeau and Ursula von der Leyen to the IETA Hub at 1000 hrs tomorrow, but logistics have dictated otherwise. However, you will be able to watch this high-level event, "A Price on Carbon Pollution to Achieve Net Zero", on YouTube.
Action at the IETA Hub starts instead at 1100 hrs with Indonesia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry presenting a new private impact fund that will invest in SDG-driven startups.
At 1330 hrs, IETA will present the latest findings of its modelling project on the economic impact of Article 6, carried out with the University of Maryland. Researchers on the project will be joined by speakers from the IEA, EDF, MIT and the Clean Air Task Force. You can register to participate virtually here.
Also at 1330 hrs will be a virtual-only event, led by the German government and GIZ, on "Carbon Markets and Green Hydrogen: Synergies to Reach Decarbonisation". Representatives from Germany and Chile will discuss the ways in which Article 6 can drive the development of green hydrogen. Registration for this event can be found here.
At 1500 hrs, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry hosts an event on "Carbon as an Asset Class: Influencing Markets and Finance." Speakers from industry, finance and government will participate.
The European Roundtable on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition takes over at 1730 hrs, when Andrei Marcu and a panel of negotiators will talk about the outlook for Article 6 and how it fits into the wider picture at Glasgow. This event is in-person only.