By Vincent Diringer
An official preparatory meeting prior to the United Nations’ Conference of Parties (COP), known as Pre-COP, was held in Milan between 30 September and 2 October 2021. The three-day event saw activists voice their concerns and dignitaries lay the groundwork for the beginning of formal negotiations set to happen at COP26 in Glasgow. Per the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the issues under discussion in Milan included :
- Increasing ambition in reducing emissions to ensure that the 1.5 °C goal of the Paris Agreement remains within reach
- Increasing ambition on the provision of finance and support to developing countries to enable them to act on climate change
- Improving approaches to averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage from climatic extremes
- Establishing a global goal on adaptation to decrease vulnerability, boost resilience-building through adaptation planning and the implementation of adaptation actions
- Advancing the technicalities needed for countries to transparently report on their climate actions and support needed or received
- Advancing the detailed rules for the market and non-market mechanisms, through which countries can cooperate to meet their emission reduction targets.
This year’s Pre-COP was marked by a strong contingent of 400 youth activists led by Greta Thunberg who was keen on highlighting the lack of strong action that has been taken by many countries. “We can no longer let the people in power decide what hope is. Hope is not passive. Hope is not blah blah blah. Hope is telling the truth. Hope is taking action,” stated the Swedish activist . While her fiery discourse has made headlines, her speech has summed up one of the core roadblocks to the success of COP26: action – specifically economic action.
Developing nations have still not received the majority of the funding from developed countries that had been agreed upon during the 2016 Paris Agreement. The landmark agreement signed in the French capital had earmarked $100 Billion to go towards capacity-building and adaptation efforts of developing nations that were facing the brunt of current climate issues. So far $20 Billion has been sent out . This, in conjunction with continued inaction on several key issues, has left governments in developing countries to doubt the willingness of decision-makers in developed nations to work towards a just pathway towards mitigating climate change .
“Isn’t it ridiculous, that in the midst of a trillion-dollar emergency response economy that we’re seeing right now, we are haggling over a $20bn price tag to essentially unleash hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions of dollars of developing country investments,” Head of the United Nations Development Program Achim Steiner told BBC , “Time is running out, and we can’t find a way in which we can finance this? It’s just not acceptable.”
All indications in Milan have shown that it will be financing that will be the biggest hurdle to overcome at COP26, as well as the fact most global governments are still not on track to limit temperature rise to 1.5 °C. See ClimaTalk’s unresolved issues article to find out more about what to expect at COP26 as well as ClimaTalk’s NDC country updates that will be published in the next 3 weeks to delve into these issues further.
 UNFCCC, 2021, “Ministers Meet in Milan for pre-COP 26 Discussions”, URL: https://unfccc.int/news/ministers-meet-in-milan-for-pre-cop-26-discussions [Retrieved on 02/10/2021]
 Greta Thunberg, 2021, Twitter: https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1442860615941468161?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet [Retrieved on 02/10/2021]
 Matt McGrath, 2021, “Climate change: Money on the agenda at Milan talks”, BBC, URL: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58741704 [Retrieved on 02/10/2021]
 Fiona Harvey, 2021, “Cop26 climate talks will not fulfill aims of Paris agreement, key players warn”, The Guardian, URL: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/27/cop26-climate-talks-will-not-fulfil-aims-of-paris-agreement-key-players-warn [Retrieved on 02/10/2021]