What was Decided at the Climate Change Conference in Glasgow?
In 2015, the global international community concluded the Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force in 2021 and replaced the Kyoto Protocol. The aim of the Paris Agreement is to limit global warming to significantly below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, if possible 1.5 degrees. All signatories (for the first time both emerging and developing countries) must calculate reduction targets (Nationally Determined Contributions, – (NDCs). According to the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, in order to keep global warming significantly below two degrees Celsius.
COP26 in Glasgow was originally planned for 2020. However, it had to be delayed until autumn 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The overarching goal of this United Nations Climate Change Conference was to stick to the 1.5 °C target of the Paris Agreement. For that reason, the most important regulations for effective climate protection had to be defined and measures to achieve the goals needed to be set in motion. One crucial element was that the participants had to complete and operationalise the Paris Climate Agreement Rulebook.
For one thing, specific regulations were defined in Glasgow to document the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a uniform way, communicate them transparently and avoid “double counting” (see below). The signatories also adopted implementation regulations on Art. 6. This defined the rulebook for the international trade of emissions reductions in more detail.
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement opens up the possibility for countries to enter into a “voluntary collaboration” with other countries, to achieve their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Rules for the implementation of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement were established in Glasgow. These specific conditions and binding rules were the result of six years of difficult, controversial negotiations. The passing of these regulations is an important and major step for the future of climate protection projects like those myclimate and others offer to private individuals and companies as measures for their own unavoidable CO2 emissions. (See the explanatory video about this above).
Previously, on the basis of the regulations in the Kyoto Protocol, nations or companies financed climate protection measures in the form of climate protection projects in developing or emerging countries. These demonstrably reduce CO₂ emissions and thus generate tradable CO₂ certificates. These so-called emissions reduction certificates (Certified Emission Reductions, CERs) can be traded and transferred on international carbon markets. This means that until now, nations and private individuals were able to credit themselves with emissions savings by funding these savings.
In the Paris Agreement, Article 6.2 now regulates direct international collaboration, that is the trade in emissions reduction certificates between two or more nations, while Article 6.4 regulates multilateral cooperation. Article 6.4 provides for the establishment of a “mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable development” and defines the successor to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) from the Kyoto Protocol. This new mechanism is to be monitored by a UN Supervisory Body, which is yet to be created (future successor to the CDM Executive Board, EB). The most important standards of the voluntary CO₂ market, such as the Gold Standard, can now define regulations based on the conditions of Article 6.4. These are to be checked by a UN Supervisory Body, which is yet to be created (future successor to the CDM Executive Board, EB).
Both Articles define clear quality standards for the projects. These focus, for example, on environmental integrity, transparency and sustainable development.
Certificates from the voluntary market generated up to 2020 (vintage 2020 or older) are still covered by the Kyoto Protocol. Certificates of more recent date are already covered by the rules and regulations of the Paris Agreement.
One important goal of the regulations is to prevent any double counting of emissions reductions. For this reason, the signatories have agreed to regulations which exclude double counting of emissions reductions achieved abroad in cooperation between nations. This is to be ensured by what are known as “corresponding adjustments”, which work in the following way: A country in which a climate protection project is implemented can decide whether it counts emission reductions achieved through the project towards its own emissions target or whether it transfers this counting to another country. If the project country does not claim the emission reductions for itself, it shall make a corresponding adjustment to its reported emissions in relation to the achievement of its own emissions reduction target. This adjustment is known as the corresponding adjustment (CA). If, however, the project country decides to count the reductions achieved for themselves, then there will be no CA issued. In the future there will therefore be carbon certificates with and without CA.
Double counting refers to occasions when two parties count the same emissions reduction for their respective climate goals. For example, when Switzerland and the country in which the climate protection project is implemented both count the CO₂ reductions achieved for themselves. To prevent this double counting of emissions reductions, countries conclude agreements with each other. In these implementing agreements, the aforementioned “corresponding adjustments” ensure that the CO₂ reductions are deducted from the national greenhouse gas inventory of the country in which the climate protection project is implemented.
The corresponding adjustments in Article 6 are also particularly important for the voluntary CO₂ market when claiming climate neutrality because climate neutrality, requires only the company to be credited and the removal of the emissions reduction from the accounting of the project country. For carbon certificates without CA, myclimate has developed the new impact label “Engaged for Impact”.
At COP26 in Glasgow, all nations were requested to revise their national climate goals and measures by the end of 2022. The goal to keep global warming significantly below two degrees will continue to be pursued. Global greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2010.
Key regulations for bilateral and multilateral cooperation to achieve national climate goals were adopted in Glasgow. There is now clarity about the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This has also impacted the voluntary carbon market. Emission reductions confirmed with carbon certificates without CAs can now no longer be used to show that a product, company, etc. is carbon neutral. Instead, however, the climate protection impact in the host country and other positive impacts of the project (SDGs) can be shown with an impact claim.