At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the United States reaffirmed our commitment to lead global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Together with our partners, we are taking urgent action to create a better future for all. Here are some of the highlights:
1. Launch of the Global Methane Pledge
Methane accounts for half of the average 1.0 degrees C of warming the world suffered over the past decade and reducing methane is the fastest strategy available to reduce warming. The United States, in partnership with the European Union, is leading the Global Methane Pledge to reduce overall methane emissions by 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. At COP26, over 100 countries representing 70 percent of the global economy and nearly half of global methane emissions joined the Global Methane Pledge—putting methane high on the agenda for leaders to implement reductions in the 2020s and review progress through 2030 at annual Global Methane Pledge ministerials starting at COP27.
2. Conserving and Restoring Forests with Public and Private Investment
The United States helped launch two major projects to invest in and preserve forests and other ecosystems that serve as critical carbon sinks. Without halting deforestation and restoring forests, the world cannot reach net zero emission by 2050 and limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. At COP26, the United States announced a decade-long, whole-of-government plan to halt deforestation and restore forests at scale through the $9 billion Plan to Conserve Global Forests. At another session, the United States announced the launch of the Forest Investor Club, a group of leading public and private financial institutions and other investors. The club seeks to accelerate the pace, increase the scale, and expand the scope of forest and nature investment by identifying and facilitating access to a pipeline of investments in forests and nature, collaborating under complementary partnerships to unlock investment opportunities, and working to develop solutions to investment barriers and bottlenecks.
3. Accelerating Global Agricultural Research to Mitigate and Adapt to the Climate Crisis
The world’s growing population is dependent on an increasingly vulnerable food production sector as the climate crisis undermines longstanding agricultural practices, threatening to damage the sector and keep millions of people in poverty. Innovative climate-smart technologies and approaches are urgently required to improve food security and drive economic growth. At COP26, the United States and the United Arab Emirates jointly launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4Climate) together with 32 countries to tackle these challenges through increasing and accelerating global innovation research and development (R&D) on agriculture and food systems in support of climate action.
4. Launch of the First Movers Coalition
More than 25 Founding Member companies helped launch the First Movers Coalition alongside the U.S. State Department, the World Economic Forum, and in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Energy. These leading companies from a wide range of industries around the world made commitments to spur the commercialization of emerging clean energy technologies that are key to tackling the climate crisis. The technologies needed to decarbonize these “hard-to-abate” sectors are not yet commercially available or competitive but will need to be brought to market by 2030 to enable their rapid scale-up to achieve net-zero emissions economy-wide by 2050. The First Movers Coalition focuses on accelerating innovation in eight sectors where these technology needs are concentrated: steel, trucking, shipping, aviation, cement, aluminum, chemicals, and direct air capture.
5. The U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration
The United States and China have renewed their commitment to work cooperatively to tackle the climate crisis. Together the two countries will cooperate on methane, with China committing to produce next year its first-ever comprehensive and ambitious National Action Plan aiming to achieve significant methane emissions controls and reductions in the 2020s. To reduce CO2 emissions, the two countries will cooperate on effective policies to scale up renewable energy and energy efficiency in the power sector. Both countries also intend to establish a “Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s” that will meet regularly to discuss joint action to tackle the climate crisis. Read the full declaration on enhancing joint climate action here.
About the Author: Mathew Willoughby serves as an intern in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs’ Office of Global Social Media.