• This round-up brings you everything you need to know about the COP26 climate summit, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions targets.
  • Top stories: the first draft of COP26 agreement asks countries to strengthen climate targets; the world is on track for a dangerous 2.4C of warming this century, say analysts; six major car makers commit to phasing out fossil-fuel vehicles by 2040.

Key COP26 stories

Six major automakers on Wednesday will commit to phasing out the production of fossil-fuel vehicles around the world by 2040, the British government said in a statement. Volvo, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover and China's BYD are set to sign the pledge at climate talks in Glasgow.

Central bankers must force the world's banks to set short-term targets to cut carbon emissions from their loan books or the sector's net-zero pledges will simply be "greenwashing", billionaire hedge fund investor Chris Hohn told Reuters. Speaking on the sidelines of COP26, Hohn - a major financial backer of climate-focused non-governmental organizations - said annual emissions cuts of 7% were needed to ensure global targets were hit.

On Wednesday, a raft of announcements relating to the greening of transportation are expected at COP26. Emissions from the transportation sector, including vehicles, airplanes, trains and ships, have more than doubled since 1970. The sector now accounts for about 24% of global emissions.

2. UN climate talks draft asks for tougher emissions pledges by next year

The British hosts of the UN climate summit in Glasgow have proposed that countries raise their ambitions to slash greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2022 in a draft political decision that nations will negotiate over the final days of the summit.

The proposal underscores the concerns of climate experts and activists that there is a yawning gap between current national pledges and the kinds of cuts required to keep the world from tilting into a full-blown climate crisis.

The UK's COP26 president, Alok Sharma, had said on Tuesday that negotiators have a "mountain to climb" to come up with a deal sufficient to address the threat from global warming.

The first draft of the COP26 political decision, which the United Nations released on Wednesday morning, asks countries to "revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their nationally determined contributions, as necessary to align with the Paris Agreement temperature goal by the end of 2022".

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to limit global warming to well below 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and try to cap it at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The draft also urged countries to phase out coal, oil and gas subsidies - taking direct aim at the burning of coal, oil and gas that produces carbon dioxide, the primary contributor to manmade climate change. It did not set a fixed date for phasing them out.

Diplomats from the nearly 200 countries represented at COP26 sit down on Wednesday to negotiate a final text they are all willing to sign when the summit ends this weekend.

Environmental group Greenpeace slammed the draft as inadequate: "This draft deal is not a plan to solve the climate crisis, it’s an agreement that we’ll all cross our fingers and hope for the best. It’s a polite request that countries maybe, possibly, do more next year."

2. World on track for 2.4C of global warming after latest pledges - analysts

The latest national pledges submitted to the UN climate conference in Glasgow to tackle climate change this decade would lead to around 2.4C of global warming this century, far above safe levels, analysts said on Tuesday.

The research coalition Climate Action Tracker (CAT) said the promises by countries attending the conference to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 would still allow the Earth to heat up far beyond the United Nations target by 2100.

"Even with all new Glasgow pledges for 2030, we will emit roughly twice as much in 2030 as required for 1.5C," it said, referring to the aspirational goal for warming since pre-industrial levels set down in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Researchers have outlined a mismatch between COP26 pledges and climate action required.
Image: Climate Action Tracker

"It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net-zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these 'net-zero' targets are just lip service to real climate action," said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, one of the organizations behind the CAT.

Under "business as usual", without any of the new pledges, the world would warm up by 2.7C this century, CAT said. Scientists have said global greenhouse gas emissions - mostly the carbon dioxide emitted by burning coal, oil and gas - must fall 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels, and reach net zero by 2050.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.