My Department was actively involved in both the preparations for, and the discussions at, COP26 in Glasgow this year. Both Minister Coveney and I each attended in Glasgow for one day, participating in stakeholder events and also having bilateral meetings.
Ahead of COP26, my Department worked closely with officials in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, which leads on climate issues, as well as with other relevant Departments and Agencies to prepare Ireland’s priorities and position.
Ireland is represented by the European Union at the UN Climate Conference. My Department engaged in EU working groups and related negotiations at COP26 on issues on which the Department of Foreign Affairs leads for the Government, such as: climate change adaptation; Loss and Damage associated with climate change impact; and climate finance to support developing countries to address climate change.
Ahead of and during COP26, my Department was particularly active in drawing attention to the urgent need to scale up financial support to climate adaptation in developing countries. This effort was most prominent through The Champions Group on Adaptation Finance which I officially launched at the UN General Assembly in September this year, together with the Governments of Denmark, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.
There was notable progress made at COP26 on adaptation financing, including through strong language in the Glasgow Climate Pact for developed countries to collectively at least double their adaptation finance by 2025. Pledges to the Adaptation Fund at this COP were $356 million, exceeding all expectations. Similarly, the Least Developed Countries Fund raised $413 million. Ireland announced new pledges to both funds, with a record €10 million for the Adaptation Fund (from DECC) and €2.5 million for the Least Developed Countries Fund (from DFA).
As with many previous UN Climate Conferences, the overall outcome from the Glasgow COP is mixed. This is partly due to the reality that the COP is a multilateral process that requires endorsement of 197 countries. As a result, the Glasgow Climate Pact attempts to strike a balance between increasing climate ambition and sufficiently supporting developing countries to address the growing impacts of climate change.
Some of the most notable features of the Glasgow Climate Pact include:
- An ambitious work programme to cut emissions this decade;
- Renewed commitments to increase climate finance to achieve the $100bn goal per annum, and a doubling of adaptation finance to support developing countries;
- Finalising the governance of the Paris Agreement;
- New provisions to address fossil fuel subsidies and unabated coal;
- Establishing the Santiago Network to provide technical assistance to support developing countries on loss and damage caused through climate change; and
- Providing for a future dialogue to discuss funding arrangements to avert, minimise and address loss and damage.