Climate Diplomacy after COP26

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This is a brief abstract of an article with the same title authored by Richard Kinley and published in IPPR Progressive Review, Institute of Public Policy Research, 2022 – link to the full article here.

The UN Climate Conference held last November in Glasgow, known as COP 26, delivered a useful pact to accelerate action towards addressing the climate crisis. International climate negotiations over the past 28 years, since the official establishment of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994, have produced several positive outcomes. In addition to the UNFCCC itself, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement were products of this process. At the same time, though, governments and business have failed to implement their legal and moral commitments to tackling the climate crisis, with global emissions of greenhouse gases still rising as a result.

If the goal set in the Paris Agreement of trying to keep global average temperature rise to 1.5 C. is to be achieved, climate diplomacy has to radically shift gears. It has to move away from negotiating “pacts” that contain good intentions but offer no guarantee for much more. Instead, it should switch to full implementation mode, supporting action to reduce emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Climate diplomacy is more than the multilateral UNFCCC negotiations. The latter must now become more about transparency and accountability among countries, and provision of support to developing countries for the implementation of their commitments. Action needs to be more fully encompassed across the entire UN system, within the international financial institutions, and in re-invigorated high-level bilateral diplomacy. All together this wider, more ambitious climate diplomacy can and must deliver real impacts that will bring the world to a true “net zero” future.

Richard Kinley

Richard Kinley is the President of the Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability (FOGGS). Richard was a senior official at the UN Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) from 1993 to 2017. He served as Deputy Executive Secretary from 2006 to 2017 and was intimately involved in the development of UNFCCC as an organization from its establishment and in its management and operations. He also led or oversaw the secretariat’s support to the climate change negotiations, including the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, and to the intergovernmental institutions. Prior to joining UNFCCC, Richard was an official of the Government of Canada working on international environmental policy issues. He holds a B.A. in political studies and an M.A. in international relations.

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