COP26: key takeaways and the introduction of ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ and the Glasgow Climate Pact

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) consisted of 12 days of discussions and debates between climate activists, governmental representatives, and politicians. As per the Paris Agreement, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius has been high on the agenda, with this year’s summit working to transition this from a mere target to an actionable plan. A few weeks on from the COP26 summit in Glasgow, we take a look at some of the agreements.

The topic of clean technologies has been consistently mentioned throughout the summit and has encouraged over 40 world leaders to sign and commit to the ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ and the Glasgow Climate Pact. The overall goal of the initiative is to strengthen climate action and speed up the development of clean technologies, allowing the signatories to meet the 2030 targets and 2050 net zero goal.

The ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’

This set of leader-led commitments aims to accelerate innovation and the deployment of clean technologies in five sectors: power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture, with a target deadline of 2030. The specific aims include:

Power: To make clean power the most affordable and reliable option to all countries to meet their power needs efficiently by 2030. Despite the official target only being set in November 2021, many companies have already been working on inventions to help implement clean power across the world. For example, OXTO Energy, as mentioned in our earlier COP26 article, has developed flywheel batteries for stabilising the intermittent supply of energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Hydrogen: To make affordable, renewable and low carbon hydrogen globally available by 2030. There are already such initiatives and inventions in place to achieve this goal, Including the work of Enapter,  which develops technology to turn renewable electricity into emission-free green hydrogen gas.

Road transport: To make zero-emission vehicles the new normal by making them accessible, affordable and sustainable in all regions. There has already been a shift in this area, with many car brands developing and producing carbon neutral vehicles.

Agriculture: To make climate smart and sustainable agriculture the most attractive and widely adopted option for farmers everywhere by 2030.

Steel: To make near-zero emission steel the preferred choice in global markets, with efficient use and production established in every region by 2030.

Most signatories have already made some progress in the five sectors mentioned above as part of their attempts to meet the Paris Agreement targets and net zero goal by 2050. The ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ will contribute to the success of all international climate change plans through a range of international initiatives to drive innovation and scale up the green industry. The commitment – and ideally completion – of these breakthroughs over the next eight years will place signatories on track to reaching all other long-term climate change tackling plans.

Glasgow Climate Pact

Alongside the ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’, world leaders have signed the Glasgow Climate Pact, with a common theme of technology transfer and its role in the mitigation of, and adaption to, the adverse effects of climate change. The Standing Committee on Patents at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) has considered the role of patents in the effective transfer of technology and found that the “fundamental elements of the patent system play an important role in the dissemination of knowledge and the transfer of technology”. The ability of the patent system to crystalise a technological development or invention makes it the ideal vehicle to transfer technology internationally. The patent system is also well placed to reconcile the interests of the technology-rich parties and the requirements of those looking to benefit, by balancing a limited monopoly with sufficient disclosure.

Aside from the ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’ and the Glasgow Climate Pact being signed, COP26 delegates have also addressed the global net zero target by mid-century, producing measurable goals to protect communities and habitats most impacted by adverse effects of climate change, through raising $100 billion every year and finalising the implementation rules for the Paris Agreement. The effects of the summit are set to impact the next few decades and shape the future of the green economy; we wait with anticipation to see these proposals materialise.