UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)

Clean Air in London’s prediction: COP26 will be ‘good’ but not ‘good enough’.

Clean Air in London has updated fully its 135-page two-part report to identify the climate change issues and negotiating priorities for each of the top 20 emitters of greenhouse gases globally and selected others ahead of COP26.

Clean Air in London’s test: COP26 will be a failure unless it ‘locks in’ 1.5c to 2.0c

The world needs to tackle climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies (alongside economic and social emergencies that have been exacerbated by COVID-19).

Clean Air in London (CAL) wrote to Alok Sharma, COP26 President Designate, on 6 October 2021 enclosing its latest and fully updated 135-page two-part report, which identifies the climate change issues for the 20 largest territorial emitters, Bangladesh (which leads the Climate Vulnerable Forum), Small Island Developing States (“SIDS”) and several other Middle Eastern countries (Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar and UAE) to understand their negotiating priorities, what needs to be achieved and the likelihood of success at COP26. 

CAL’s prediction is that COP26 will be ‘good’ but not ‘good enough’ and our test is that COP26 will be a failure unless it ‘locks in’ 1.5c to 2.0c.

CAL hopes that, by highlighting the toughest issues with several weeks to go before COP26, it will increase the chances of success at the most important meeting on climate change since 2015.  As Alok Sharma said on 14 May 2021: “[COP26] is our last hope of keeping 1.5 degrees alive” and “Our best chance of building a brighter future”.

CAL’s analysis of UK and other public statements on COP26 and a ground-breaking analysis of 10 million tweets and 34 million ‘engagements’ globally in the period between 2 March 2020 and 30 September 2021 about air pollution and/or COP26 shows that public discussion around COP26 is still focused on vague generalisations not the hard realities of air pollution, biodiversity, cities, finance, health, justice etc.

In CAL’s view, the UK must re-double its efforts over the next few weeks if COP26 is to be a success and we are to keep 1.5c alive and ensure that the world is on track for no worse than a 2.0c rise.  This must include:

  1. ‘Lock in’ 1.5c to 2.0c. Current NDCs put the world on track for temperature rises of 2.7c or more by the end of the century.  Instead, we need NDCs and Net Zero commitments that are consistent with the IPCC’s latest advice to keep us between 1.5c and 2.0c.
  2. Over $500bn climate finance. Developed countries have failed to keep their commitment to provide $100bn per annum of climate finance from 2020 (and again in 2021) and so must deliver $120bn pa or more in 2022 to ensure that the total exceeds $500bn over five years.
  3. Paris Rule Book. It will only be possible to complete the Paris Rule Book if (1) and (2) are delivered upon in full. Other issues of fairness must also be addressed.
  4. ‘Put our house in order’. The UK must put in place plans, policies, laws and funding to deliver on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 68% by 2030, by 78% by 2035 and achieve ‘Net Zero’ by 2050. For example, the Environment Bill needs to include the latest WHO AQGs and a new Clean Air Act should achieve ‘Zero Air Emissions’ from buildings.
  5. Recognise the human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as 15 UN entities and most countries have done.

In the remaining weeks to COP26, the Prime Minister needs to lead a whole of government effort, that includes putting the UK’s own house in order, to ensure success in Glasgow.  Any COP26 outcome that fails to ‘lock in’ 1.5c to 2.0c will be a failure.


Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said:

“Clean Air in London applauds Alok Sharma’s leadership ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, as COP26 President Designate, and urges the UK Government to re-double its efforts to keep 1.5 degree alive and ensure that the world is on track for no worse than a 2.0 degree rise.”


ICE 250321_COP26_Final V2

Useful links and resources

1. Letter and fully updated report sent to Alok Sharma on 6 October 2021

CAL 425_Sent 1_COP26 Letter to Alok Sharma 061021

CAL 425_Sent 2_COP26 report_Version 3.0_061021_Part One

CAL 425_Sent 3_COP26 report_20 Themes People and Events_Version 3.0_061021_Part Two

2. Letter to Sarah Champion MP, Chair of the International Development Committee, dated 14 July 2021 enclosing Clean Air in London’s fully updated 120 page two-part report on ‘Climate change, development and COP26’

CAL 416_Sent 1_COP26 letter to Indcom_140721_V2

CAL 416_Sent 2_COP26 report_Version 2.0 140721_Part One

CAL 416_Sent 3_COP26 report_Top 20 Themes plus People and Events_Version 2.0 Final_140721_Part Two

3. Letter to Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, dated 9 May 2021 enclosing Clean Air in London’s 100 page two-part report on ‘Climate diplomacy and COP26’

CAL 404_Sent_1_Letter to Select Committees_Final 090521

CAL 404_Sent_3_COP26 report_Version 1.2_Final 090521_Part one

CAL 404_Sent_4_Top 20 Themes plus People and Events_Version 1.21 Final_090521_Part two

4. Alok Sharma’s speech on 14 May 2021 i.e. setting the scene with six months to go




5. Letter to Alok Sharma on 8 March 2021

CAL 404_Sent_399 Letter to Alok Sharma_080321_Reduced file size

6. Communiques

G7 Climate and environment ministers on 21 May 2021


7. Country comments

India (1 April 2021)


8. BBC Monitoring’s Monitor Magazine Summer 2021


9.  UN Human Rights Council adopts Resolution confirming the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment on 8 October 2021











Updated: 11 October 2021

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