Many thousands of words have been written about what the COP26 climate summit should be aiming to achieve, according to a multitude of different perspectives.
The UK COP26 presidency has set out its own priorities for the talks, namely ambition to “keep 1.5C in reach”, adaptation, finance and collaboration. These have been loosely summarised by the UK prime minister Boris Johnson as “coal, cars, cash and trees”.
Many of the UK priorities, however, do not relate directly to the formal negotiations, which begin on Sunday 31 October and are supposed to conclude on Friday 12 November. These talks are the main focus for COP26 and the reason that thousands of diplomats are descending on Glasgow.
In the interactive table below, Carbon Brief lists priority agenda items and “red lines” for various negotiating alliances at the talks, such as AOSIS, BASIC and the EU.
(See the Carbon Brief explainer on the negotiating alliances at climate talks for more.)
The table shows positions on the key topics due to be negotiated at COP26, based on public information and informal intelligence gathered by Carbon Brief.
By sorting the columns by negotiating bloc, broad topic, specific issue or position, the table helps cut through the “four-dimensional spaghetti” of competing priorities.
There are brief explanations of the jargon-filled language that permeates the talks, below the interactive table.Table by Tom Prater for Carbon Brief.
Finally, there are tracks for two technical bodies, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI52-55) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA52-55).
Only items on one of these agendas will be part of the formal talks in Glasgow.
Nevertheless, a range of political priorities will feature at the talks, with each group pushing for its key asks to be reflected in the negotiated outcome of the summit.
Matters up for formal negotiation include progress on the provision of climate finance, including regular reporting of how much has and will be given by each country.
The talks will discuss the balance between funding for mitigation versus adaptation and a new target from 2025 onwards, which must be higher than the existing pledge for rich countries to give $100bn a year.
Various parts of the talks will address “ambition”, meaning for example progress towards the aims of the Paris Agreement on limiting warming, providing climate finance and supporting adaptation.
Negotiators will also grapple with the issue of “loss and damage” caused by unavoidable climate change, including the details of the “Santiago Network” expected to offer “technical assistance” and debate over whether specific climate finance will be on offer to manage the problem.
(See the in-depth Carbon Brief Q&A on Article 6 for more information.)
Sticking points include how – or even whether – to avoid “double counting” of emissions cuts sold as carbon offsets and whether to set aside a “share of proceeds” of trading to support adaptation.
(Recent press reports suggest a softening stance from Brazil, which has been the chief source of opposition to strong rules on double counting at previous summits.)
Negotiators must also decide whether to allow the “carryover” of schemes, methodologies and/or credits created under the Kyoto Protocol’s carbon market, the Clean Development Mechanism.
Other issues for Article 6 include how to achieve “overall mitigation” when emissions cuts are traded, perhaps via the “automatic cancellation” of a fraction of credits, as well as how or whether to specifically safeguard human rights in the new carbon market.
COP26 will also attempt to agree “common timeframes” for countries’ climate pledges and the Paris “enhanced transparency framework”, so that progress towards meeting them can be tracked.
Finally, countries must work out remaining details of the “global stocktake” that will assess overall progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is due to start shortly after COP26 and end in 2023.
Interactive: Who wants what at the COP26 climate change summit
COP26: Who wants what at the UN climate talks in Glasgow