Looking to COP26: A Focus on Discussion Topics for Week 1

by Amy Wilson, Charlie Bevis, Catriona Flesher, Vincent Diringer, Jack Johnson

ClimaTalk’s previous article, The Paris Agreement: A Focus on Unresolved Issues, delved into aspects of the Paris Agreement that were left unresolved at the end of the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP). These included Article 6 and carbon markets, funding mechanisms for loss and damage, the timescales for the submission of updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), climate finance, and how to quantify and report emissions. 

However, COP26 in Glasgow will not only be a space to discuss unresolved issues surrounding the Paris Agreement and its implementation. The conference will provide a space for attendees to discuss a wide range of topics from climate justice to science and innovation. 

This article details the key negotiation points for a range of topics, and if you would like to find out how the negotiations went come along to our topic specific live discussion sessions: 

  • Thursday 4 November: Public and private climate finance;
  • Friday 5 November: Energy policy developments;
  • Saturday 6 November: COP26 developments relating to youth inclusion and policy.

Climate Finance 

Responding to the climate crisis will require a huge mobilisation of finance. Funding research and development into cleaner energy generation, implementing more efficient transport and restoring polluted habitats are not cheap tasks but must be undertaken urgently and on a global scale. It has become apparent that in many countries, this is now the main barrier to ambitious climate action even where activists have generated a hunger for ambitious climate action [1].

The discussion on climate finance at COP26 will take place on Wednesday 3rd November and will address two categories of finance, public and private. The former relates to money from governments and more specifically, the pledge by developed countries to mobilise $USD100 billion for developing countries per year by the year 2020 [2]. However, as of 2018, these countries were only giving $USD78.9 billion a year despite this being ‘a floor not a ceiling’ [3]. Nonetheless, President Biden promised to double the United States’ contribution at the UN’s 76th General Assembly; this suggests that other countries might feel pressured at COP to also increase their input [4].

Private finance cannot be so easily reduced to a single pledge and rather involves an economy-wide transition. To this end, Mark Carney’s COP26 Private Finance Hub will work with the private sector on the following aims [5]:

  • Reporting: creating a common framework for climate-related disclosures.
  • Risk-management: helping the private sector to predict and manage climate risks.
  • Returns: informing investors of opportunities within the transition to net-zero.
  • Mobilisation: increasing finance flows to emerging economies.

Under the umbrella of finance are related issues that the parties should also address. These include: how to make the Green Climate Fund more transparent, how to encourage financial institutions to include climate change scenarios in their stress-testing checks, and how to guarantee that mobilised finance is reaching women too [5]. See ClimaTalk’s articles on green bonds and the Paris Agreement’s financial mechanism to learn more. 


Energy use takes many forms, be it heating, cooking or electricity generation, and is responsible for 25% of global emissions [6]. Understandably, clean energy is therefore one of the key themes of COP26 [7]. Energy policy is set to be negotiated on Thursday 4th November and the hope is that leaders will commit to an urgent energy transition from fossil fuels to cleaner power generation [8].

COP-President Alok Sharma has stated that he will be encouraging an end to international coal financing as part of his plan to consign this fossil fuel to history [9]. COP26’s Energy Transition Council (ETC) adopted a similar approach and stressed the need for parties to support communities currently reliant on the coal economy to ensure a just transition [10].

Alongside this, the parties will need to rapidly increase their implementation of renewable power generation if the energy sector is to be entirely decarbonised. This will require large amounts of climate finance to reduce the costs of renewable power and develop innovative technologies to transfer and store power more efficiently [11]. The ETC’s own goal is to persuade parties to double their rates of investment in clean energy by 2030 [10].    

The breadth of energy policy also creates a multitude of intersections with other major COP26 topics. The parties will need to: reach public finance targets to assist developing countries in their energy transition; prioritise female-centred policies (to reduce pollutants in the home) which will need to address dirty cooking fuels; and the parties must resolve Article 6, and finally they must establish an effective carbon market mechanism to encourage fossil fuel divestment [12, 13, 14]. 

ClimaTalk has previously covered some elements of energy policy, including the G7’s ‘Coal Phase-Out’ and whether nuclear energy is a viable solution to climate change


As the generation that will bear the burden of our leader’s climate inaction, the contributions of young people are fundamental to a successful COP26 summit. Inclusion takes two forms; a seat at the table when negotiations take place and substantive policies that consider the specific needs of youth.

Regarding participation, the organisers of COP26 must guarantee that young people from a diverse range of backgrounds attend the summit and actively contribute. Unfortunately, government delays have already prevented many potential attendees from the Global South from joining the summit in Glasgow [15]. Nonetheless, we expect the government to:

  • Guarantee effective information sharing so that youth delegates have the necessary resources to engage in policy debate [16].
  • Mandate that young people have the right to contribute to negotiations to avoid tokenism [16].
  • Properly finance youth inclusion initiatives so that all potential delegates have an equal opportunity to partake in the summit [16].
  • Honour its promises, including that young people will be given the chance to publicly interview government ministers [17].

Next, to pass substantive policies that meet the needs of young people, COP26 delegations must seriously consider proposals put forward by youth summits. This will include the Y7’s demands for improved digital literacy and mental health resources for young people, the Mock COP26’s emphasis on teaching children about the climate emergency and indigenous legal protections, and Youth4Climate’s proposals that more be done to increase climate finance for poorer countries [18, 19, 20]. This is in addition to other youth-led proposals, including an end to fracking and passing a Green New Deal [21].

For further details on youth climate action, check out ClimaTalk’s articles with Taiwanese youth advocates for climate change and activist Jan Kairel Cabalona Guillermo


Featured image courtesy of the UNFCCC’s Flickr account.

[1] Organising the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) Implementation Gap: The Case of Tanzania, 2019, International Network for Sustainable Energy, URL: https://www.inforse.org/africa/pdfs/PolicyBrief_Tanzania_CSO_view_on_NDCs_Dec_2019.pdf [Accessed October 16, 2021].
[2] Delivering on the $100 billion climate finance commitment, 2020, WWF, URL:  https://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?1182266/climate-finance-100bn-hope [Accessed October 16, 2021].
[3] Delivering on the $100 billion climate finance commitment and transforming climate finance, 2020, Independent Expert Group on Climate Finance, URL:  https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/100_billion_climate_finance_report.pdf [Accessed October 16, 2021].
[4] Remarks by President Biden before the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 2021, White House, URL: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2021/09/21/remarks-by-president-biden-before-the-76th-session-of-the-united-nations-general-assembly/ [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[5] Mark Carney, Building a Private Finance System for Net-Zero, 2021, URL: https://ukcop26.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/COP26-Private-Finance-Hub-Strategy_Nov-2020v4.1.pdf [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[6] Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data, 2020, URL: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[7] COP26 president calls for greater climate ambition and cooperation, 2021, URL:  https://environment-analyst.com/register?o=105532&productID=6&layout=main [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[8] Presidency Programme, 2021, UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, URL:  https://ukcop26.org/the-conference/presidency-programme/ [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[9] COP26 President Designate 6 Months To Go Speech, 2021, UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, URL: https://ukcop26.org/cop26-president-designate-6-months-to-go-speech/ [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[10] COP26 Energy Transition Council – Summary Statement, URL: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/941515/COP26_ETC_Summary_Statement_2020_12_01_04.docx__1_.odt [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[11] Larry Luxner, COP26: The key trends to watch ahead of the world’s next climate conference, 2021, Atlantic Council, URL: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/cop26-the-key-trends-to-watch-ahead-of-the-worlds-next-climate-conference/ [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[12] Jocelyn Timperley, The broken $100-billion promise of climate finance – and how to fix it, 2021, nature, URL: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02846-3 [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[13] Scaling clean cooking responsibly: Tackling air pollution through a woman-centred model in Nigeria, 2020, URL: https://www.ccacoalition.org/en/news/scaling-clean-cooking-responsibly-tackling-air-pollution-through-woman-centered-model-nigeria [Accessed October 21, 2021].
[14] Kanchan Yadav, Resolution to Article 6 of Paris accord high on market’s list before COP26, URL: https://www.spglobal.com/platts/en/market-insights/latest-news/electric-power/080621-resolution-to-article-6-of-paris-accord-high-on-markets-list-before-cop26 [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[15] COP26 Coalition joins international call for COP26 to be postponed, COP26 Coalition, URL: https://cop26coalition.org/resource/cop26-coalition-joins-international-call-for-cop26-to-be-postponed-cop26-coalition-political-statement/ [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[16] Anthony Oyakhilome Justice, Increasing Youth Participation in Climate Action, 2020, United Nations, URL: https://www.un.org/en/increasing-youth-participation-climate-action [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[17] Helena Horton, COP26: young people to interview ministers on stage, government says, 2021, The Guardian, URL: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/07/cop26-young-people-to-interview-ministers-on-stage-government-says [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[18] Y7 2021 Communiqué: Making Waves for Future Generations, 2021, Future Leaders Network, URL: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56bbc80dc6fc089e185b5ca4/t/609e844b554f0762c240ae6c/1621001293740/Y7+2021+Communique.pdf [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[19] Declaration of Mock Conference of the Parties 26, 2020, Mock COP, URL: https://www.mockcop.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/20200112-MOCK-COP-Declaration.pdf [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[20] Youth4Climate Summit Concludes in Milan With Young People Sharing Proposals for Tackling Climate Change with Ministers, 2021, United Nations Climate Change, URL: https://ukcop26.org/youth4climate-summit-concludes-in-milan-with-young-people-sharing-proposals-for-tackling-climate-change-with-ministers/ [Accessed October 19, 2021].
[21] Campaigns, UK Youth Climate Coalition, URL: https://www.ukycc.com/campaigns [Accessed October 19, 2021].
Categories COP26

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