On January 27, 2022, the United States convened a ministerial meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), chaired by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. The Forum provided an opportunity for Ministers to reflect on the outcomes of COP26 in Glasgow; set out priorities for COP27 and 2022 more broadly; identify their plans for implementing/enhancing climate action; and explore possible concrete initiatives on which MEF countries might work together to accelerate climate action.
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken opened the meeting by noting that Glasgow achieved significant progress and, importantly, that COP26 was not an endpoint but a starting point for accelerated climate action in this critical decade. Moving forward, Secretary Blinken urged an “implementation plus” approach, calling on countries and other actors to implement the goals/commitments they have undertaken, and to pursue significant further efforts to keep within reach a 1.5-degree C limit on temperature rise.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Kerry was joined at the virtual, closed-door gathering by Ministers and other senior officials from MEF and other G20 countries, as well as from other countries bringing critical perspectives, including: Antigua and Barbuda (as Alliance of Small Island States Chair), Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh (as Climate Vulnerable Forum Chair), Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt (as incoming COP27 President), the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Marshall Islands (as the High Ambition Coalition Chair), Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal (as Least Developed Countries Group Chair), Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Senior representatives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change secretariat and the U.N. Secretary-General also participated.
The agenda centered on the MEF’s twin objectives of 1) facilitating closer high-level alignment on core political issues, and 2) providing a platform for concrete, collective actions. The meeting served in part to the set the stage for a future MEF leaders meeting.
Participants underscored the urgency of building on the progress made at COP26 and the importance of countries following through on the next steps identified in Glasgow across a range of issues, including the call to Parties to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) this year as needed to align with the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Participants began the discussion of potential avenues for concrete, collective action in areas such as methane, zero-carbon power, electric vehicles, and deforestation.
Building on Glasgow
Special Presidential Envoy Kerry began the first session by emphasizing the importance of continuing the momentum from Glasgow and asking Ministers to address two topics:
- the additional efforts they are taking or contemplating to follow through on the Glasgow outcome, including the call to Parties to ensure this year that their 2030 targets are aligned with the Paris temperature goal; and
- the core challenges they foresee, both national and international.
He noted the steps the United States is taking to fulfill and build on its commitments, including its NDC target, and underscored, as one important example of a challenge, the collective need to mobilize the trillions in investment required to achieve a net-zero, climate-resilient economy. He also stressed the challenge – and imperative – of accelerating the phaseout of coal.
COP26 President Alok Sharma of the United Kingdom noted that almost 200 countries came together to finish the Paris rulebook and agree on the Glasgow Climate Pact; critically, the Pact calls upon Parties to strengthen their NDC targets as necessary to align with the Paris temperature goal. He stressed that Parties must now turn the words on paper into action so that the 1.5-degree goal does not “slip from our grasp.” He noted that the major economies have a special responsibility to act, including the preparation by each of a long-term strategy, and that the major economies moving together is the most effective way to decarbonize, including through the sectoral initiatives from Glasgow.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the incoming President of COP27, stressed the important Glasgow outcomes on mitigation and adaptation, as well as the political will reflected at the Leaders Summit. With respect to COP27, Egypt will work together with the UK to ensure that the critical issues are addressed. Noting that “so much is at stake,” he also highlighted the essential role and contributions of non-governmental actors.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa noted the importance of using this year to build on Glasgow, including its contribution to political momentum and clarity on what needs to be done. She said Glasgow resolved many deadlocks, and this kind of constructive attitude is needed moving toward COP27. She noted that we are entering a national implementation phase but that this phase also requires international cooperation across all pillars of the Paris Agreement and that the MEF and G20 countries have a special role to play. Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action, emphasized that we are in “emergency mode.” He called on the major economies to make the phaseout of coal their top priority, to create coalitions to help key emerging economies with that phaseout, and to use their positions in the multilateral development banks to leverage increased private capital.
There was broad agreement that the Glasgow COP made substantial progress toward keeping the 1.5-degree limit within reach, including by concluding the Paris rulebook, by adopting the Glasgow Climate Pact, and by being a springboard for multiple decarbonization initiatives. At the same time, participants recognized the need for intensive national and international implementation and acceleration. Participants shared a wide variety of updates, including efforts such as mainstreaming climate change throughout governmental policy, promotion of carbon pricing, adoption/implementation of net zero goals, efforts to increase energy efficiency, decarbonization of various sectors (e.g., transport), national methane reduction programs, preparations to engage in the international carbon market, and creating policy incentives to promote the development/use of green hydrogen. Participants also noted adaptation efforts at the national and international levels.
Representatives of islands, least developed, and other vulnerable countries highlighted, among other things, the dire consequences they will face unless, as a priority, emissions are aggressively reduced, and their special circumstances and challenges are addressed.
Participants cited a range of challenges at the national and international levels. The implementation of commitments will necessitate technological research and development, as well as more rapid penetration. Fossil fuel subsidies need to be reduced. Mobilizing the trillions of dollars needed for the net-zero transition will require governments to partner more closely with the private sector. There was also a call for evolving the international financial architecture. Participants cited the widespread challenge of ensuring a just transition for workers and communities, as well as country-specific challenges such as climate-related wildfires, the need for international support, including for forests, and improved access to finance.
Options for Collective Action
In the second session, participants introduced for consideration four potential avenues for collaboration:
- that MEF members consider developing national methane action plans by COP27;
- that MEF members undertake a dialogue to identify the types of domestic policies they could employ to eliminate deforestation from agricultural commodity supply chains;
- that MEF countries set a collective goal for the share of new power capacity installed by 2030 to be provided by zero-carbon sources; and
- that MEF countries set a collective goal for the share of new light-duty vehicle sales in 2030 to be met with zero-emissions vehicles.
Participants offered a range of initial reactions to these preliminary proposals, including identification of efforts they are undertaking on the highlighted topics. The shipping sector was also raised as an important area for MEF members. Special Presidential Envoy Kerry invited countries to provide additional feedback following the meeting and to share additional ideas for potential collective action, such as accelerating clean technology innovation.
Special Presidential Envoy Kerry closed the meeting by reiterating that the Glasgow COP represented only the start of this critical decade for climate action; noting that the world is watching to see how the major economies implement and augment their climate-related goals and commitments this year and beyond. He concluded, “Everyone on the planet is counting on us.”
- Minister Molwyn Joseph, Antigua and Barbuda
- Minister Juan Cabandié, Argentine Republic
- Minister Angus Taylor, Australia
- Deputy Minister Habibun Nahar, People’s Republic of Bangladesh
- Minister Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite, Federative Republic of Brazil
- Minister Steven Guilbeault, Canada
- Special Envoy Xie Zhenhua, People’s Republic of China
- Minister Sameh Shoukry, Arab Republic of Egypt
- Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, European Commission
- Climate Ambassador Stéphane Crouzat, French Republic
- Minister Annalena Baerbock, Federal Republic of Germany
- Minister Bhupender Yadav, Republic of India
- Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Republic of Indonesia
- Minister Roberto Cingolani, Italian Republic
- Minister Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Japan
- Deputy Minister Kim Beobjeong, Republic of Korea
- Minister Casten N. Nemra, Republic of the Marshall Islands
- Undersecretary Martha Delgado Peralta, Mexico
- Special Representative Ruslan Edelgeriyev, Russian Federation
- HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Minister Abdou Karim Sall, Republic of Senegal
- Minister Murat Kurum, Republic of Turkey
- COP 26 President Alok Sharma, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
- Special Adviser Selwin Hart, United Nations