COP26 Highlights: What is actually happening at the summit?

The road to COP26  is finally over as world leaders and delegates descended on Glasgow over the weekend for arguably the most important climate summit on earth. 

Over the next 2 weeks, from 31 October – 12 November 2021 the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties will debate the key topics of focus which are Finance, Energy, Youth & Public Empowerment, Nature, Adaptation, Loss & Damage, Gender Equality, Science & Innovation, Transport, and Cities, Regions & Built Environment, before Friday 12th November when negotiations close.

Each day for 13 days isla will do a daily wrap up of the previous day’s negotiations to keep you up to speed with what is happening in the world of COP26.  

Thursday 11th November 2021

Cities, regions and built communities – Day 11 

Surprise announcement 

The world’s two biggest emitters, the US and China have unveiled a joint declaration to cooperate on emissions cuts over the next decade. Focusing on key specific areas, such as cutting methane – a powerful greenhouse gas – and emissions from transport, energy and industry.

Urban climate care

The UK launches a £27.5m fund called the Urban Climate Action Programme (UCAP) to support cities across Africa, Asia and Latin America transition to net-zero.

Time to clean up

UCAP helps cities to implement projects including low-emission public transport systems, renewable energy generation, sustainable waste management, new climate-smart buildings codes and climate risk planning.


The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, is to establish an expert group that will police net-zero claims to give more consistency around the targets.

Greener buildings

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has unveiled its Whole Life Carbon Roadmap – a tool to help businesses across the built environment sector measure and cut carbon from materials, processes, operation and demolition.

Wednesday 10th November 2021

Transport- Day 10 

Clean cars 

24 countries and 6 leading car makers (including Ford, Mercedes, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz) agree to end the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040 and commit to selling only zero-emissions vehicles from this year on.

UK rail Unions unite 

TSSA, the RMT, Unite and Aslef have called for significant reductions in rail fares and a huge increase in spending on rail services and infrastructure, in an attempt to sway the public from their cars onto zero carbon trains.

On your bike

The European Cyclists’ Federation, Greenpeace and over 300 civil society groups signed an open letter to world governments and transport ministers demanding political and financial commitment to upscale the use of cycling in our countries, cities and regions.

Clean take-off 

Industry report outlines credible pathways for the decarbonisation of aviation by 2050 using new technologies including electricity and hydrogen for short-haul flights, improvements in operations and infrastructure, and a transition to sustainable aviation fuel by mid-century.


Tuesday 9th November 2021

Gender – Day 9 Pt1 

The dual challenge

The UK’s sets out £165m of funding to progress gender equality while tackling climate change, including £45m to empower women groups in Asia and the Pacific. Helping to build climate resilience and supporting women’s leadership, access to finance, education and skills.

System change

Nigeria pledged to expand its National Gender and Climate Action Plan, prioritising agriculture, forestry and land use; food security and health; energy and transport; waste management; and water and sanitation.


80% of Canada’s $4.3 billion climate investments over the next five years will target gender equality outcomes to support women’s leadership and decision-making in climate action.

Science & Innovation – Day 9 Pt2 

Carbon-free care

47 countries committed to building low carbon and sustainable health systems which can withstand the impacts of climate change, including 12 countries pledging to hit net-zero by 2050.

A global first

90 organisations across 30 economies launched The Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) yesterday which will see governments, research institutions and communities collaborate to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities on the frontline of climate change.

Mission innovation

A coalition of 23 governments will accelerate the innovation of clean technologies for cities, industry, carbon dioxide removal, and the production of renewable fuels, chemicals, and materials.


Monday 8th November 2021

Adaptation, loss and damage – Day 8

Local leads the way

Global leaders commit to a shift towards locally-led adaptation with over 70 endorsements to the Principles for Locally Led Adaptation and $450m mobilised for initiatives and programmes enhancing these approaches.

Adaptation action

Wealthy nations commit $232 million to the Adaptation Fund, to support communities struggling to respond to climate change – the highest single mobilisation to the Fund.

The race is on

The Race to Resilience campaign brings together initiatives that are strengthening the urban, coastal and rural resilience of 2 billion people worldwide.

Upscale climate resilience

88 countries are now covered by Adaptation Communications or National Adaptation Plans to outline their nations priorities and needs to increase preparedness for climate risks and their impact.

Quote of the day

“Islands are the canary in the coal mine in this situation. They are sending a message now that if we don’t act — and act boldly — it’s going to be too late.” Barack Obama, Former U.S. President



Friday 5th November 2021

Youth and Public Empowerment – Day 5

Climate curriculum

The UK announced a new £85,000 research grant to support the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre to produce better information on the education needs of refugee children and enable a more effective international response.

Better support

23 countries pledge to put climate at the heart of their national curriculums. The UK has drafted a draft Sustainability and Climate Change strategy to equip and empower young people with the skills they need to drive the future of climate action.

Higher education

1050 universities and colleges from 68 countries have pledged to half their emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050 at the very latest.

Stay on track

Countries committed to revisiting the progress made on youth and education pledges ahead of COP27 called ‘learn for our planet: act for the climate’

Quote of the day

“Don’t be afraid to show your colours in terms of achieving climate justice because everyone, everywhere has a voice – and everyone, everywhere has an ability to believe in change.” Ineza Umuhoza Grace, Loss and Damage Youth Coalition


Thursday 4th November 2021

Energy – Day 4

Power past coal 

28 new countries join the international pledge to phase out coal in the 2030s for major economies, and the 2040s for the rest of the world. Taking the grand total to 165 – China, the US and India haven’t made the same commitment.

Build back greener

Emission levels dropped 5.4% in the wake of the pandemic now, emissions have jumped by more in 2021 than they fell in 2020. Only a reversal of the 2021 coal-burning surge could outweigh expected increases in oil consumption to prevent a new record for global emissions in 2022.

Mind the gap 

Global energy demand is growing faster than renewable energy growth, with the gap predicted to widen further as economies reopen and travel resumes, with fossil fuel demand continuing to grow.

Race to Zero 

Over half of FTSE 100 firms commit to eliminating emissions by 2050s, representing over £1 trillion of market capital and quadrupling the number of UK’s listed firms since a year ago.


Wednesday 3rd November 2021

Finance – Day 3

Word first 

The UK is to become the world’s first ‘net zero aligned’ financial hub. It will become mandatory for firms to publish “clear, deliverable” plans outlining how they will decarbonize. Public firms will also have to disclose their climate metrics.

Clean investments 

20 countries pledge an end to finance for overseas fossil fuel projects and redirect funds towards green energy instead. Generating an estimated $8 billion a year for clean energy around the world.

Is there really hope? 

According to the University of Melbourne if COP26 emission pledges are fulfilled it may limit global heating to below 2°C by the end of the century (particularly if India reaches Net-Zero by 2070).

“Watershed” moment? 

40% of assets managed globally valued at $130 trillion are now “aligned with the Paris Agreement” coming from 450 company members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). However, fails to mandate an end to investments in fossil fuel expansion.

Quote of the day 

“An alliance on climate with no fossil fuel criteria in its guidelines is like an anti-smoking coalition that doesn’t address cigarettes”Bill McKibben, Author and co-founder of the grassroots climate campaign,


Tuesday 2nd November 2021

Global Leaders Summit – Day 2

Potent gas 

More than 100 countries, including the world’s two largest beef-producing nations – the U.S. and Brazil, are committing to reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030. With the focus on reduction plans for oil and gas industries, and limiting leaks from pipelines.

Save our oceans 

The US joined 14 other countries in committing to achieve sustainable management for all of its ocean areas by 2025 – making shipping, fishing and other seafaring industries more environmentally sound.

No to coal 

Western nations provide $8.5bn to shut down South Africa’s coal mines – Africa’s biggest GHG emitter. The funds will be used to expand and modernise electricity networks and to help local miners with the economic transition.

Hello sunshine 

India’s One Sun, One World, One Grid plan — a worldwide grid that could provide clean, solar energy to other nations. Aiming to connect 140 countries through a common grid that will be used to transfer solar power.

Japan steps up  

Japan will provide up to $10bn in the coming five years to assist with decarbonization across Asia and will double its funding to help other nations adapt to climate change to more than $14bn.


Monday 1st November 2021 

Global Leaders Summit – Day 1 

Save the trees 

100 countries signed a deal covering 85% of the worlds’ forests. With 30+ of the globe’s biggest corporations ending investment in activities that contribute to deforestation.

India’s net zero pledge

£2.2bn will be provided from the World Bank and African Development Bank for investment in climate-related projects in India to support their goal of reaching net-zero by 2070.

Fish fight

France has delayed post-Brexit sanctions on UK fishing rights that threatened to stop British boats offloading catches at its ports from midnight over the row.

Biden’s bill

The US commits $555 billion in clean energy tax credits, grants and policies to incentivise a shift towards clean energy, aimed at slashing US emissions by half.

Quote of the day

We must listen, and we must act, and we must choose wisely. On behalf of this and future generations, I urge you: Choose ambition. Choose solidarity. Choose to safeguard our future and save humanity.”Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General

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