The Paris Climate Accord is an international treaty that aims at regulating climate change and at the same time provides for an international law framework designed to prevent global warming. Governments of the Signatory Parties meet annually to discuss their plans of action for achieving the goals of the treaty. The agreement works where the Signatory States gather annually to assess the collective progress towards their long-term goals of climate action and implement new and stricter goals every 5 years. This year, the partaking countries will meet in Glasgow for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (hereinafter referred to as COP26) on the 31 of October – 12 November 2021. The parties were supposed to meet last year; however, due to the Covid Pandemic, the conference will occur at the end of October of this year. Three key elements to be discussed at the conference will be Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (i); greater transparency on the reporting of countries’ greenhouse gas emissions (ii); and common time frames for the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (iii).
The purpose of Article 6 of the agreement is to promote united and universal approaches to climate action which in turn will assist the governments in implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). NDCs are a requirement of Article 4.2 of the agreement, and they consist of measures taken on a national level that focus on the mitigation of global warming. Each State must undertake such measures and ensure the fulfilment of their ultimate objective. In order to enhance the implementation of the Convention, States must submit NDCs every 5 years at Climate Change Conferences irrespective of the NDCs implementation time frames. This year’s conference is the deadline for the State Parties to make new pledges on steeper emission cuts. This sense of urgency follows from a report published earlier this year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warning that global warming was close to being out of human control.
Article 6 is one of the few articles within the agreement that yet remains to be resolved since the accord was finalised in 2015. The unresolved article is considered to be one of the most complex and technical issues currently facing the COP26 conference. That is because to have its measures carried out successfully, it requires a process of interlocking conflicting national priorities amongst the participating states. Though the article was reviewed in the Katowice climate talks in 2018 it was still left unresolved. This was due to the fear that the ‘rushing’ of the rulebook for Article 6 would allow for loopholes and insufficient guidance for carrying out its implementation. Article 6 is an unprecedented rule, and it has proved challenging in terms of reaching a consensus amongst nations during the Katowice talks without a global reference.
The article could prove crucial in helping the world from exceeding the 1.5°C mark. Article 6 consists of three operative paragraphs, two of which are concerned with the carbon market. Generally, the international carbon market allows countries that are struggling to meet their objectives on emission reductions under their NDCs to purchase emissions reductions from other countries that have met their emission reduction goals. This market benefits both parties involved as the over-achieving country is financially rewarded for its efforts while the underachieving country can also meet its reduction goals without having to go through naming and shaming.
Although Article 6 already consists of the three operational paragraphs (Articles 6.2, 6.4, and 6.8), the finalisation of these rules still remains a discussion point in COP26. It is important to note that if these rules are left unfinalised, the implementation of the article may in practice, turn to have a more negative impact than the one that it’s set out to achieve. One of the areas of shortcomings that arise from the lack of finalisation of Article 6 is the double-counting issue. Double counting occurs when two countries claim to have the same reduction levels of carbon, while in fact, the former has sold its reduction levels to the latter without informing the international community of such transactions. This practice is deemed detrimental because it threatens the environmental integrity standard that countries are to adhere to as per Article 6. Currently, Article 6 does not cover this issue. However, should the rules of Article 6 be finalised, the benefits will reach both the economic and environmental sectors of participating countries. Should the implementation of the article prove successful, experts have estimated that it will save on average 250 billion US Dollars in climate change implementation costs as well as allow for the successful cutting of the carbon market. Nevertheless, the outcome remains to be seen after the conclusion of the talks which is expected to be on 12 November 2021 at 05:00 (GMT+1).
 Melissa Denchak, ‘Paris Climate Agreement: Everything You Need to Know’ (Natural Resources Defence Council, 19 February 2021) <https://www.nrdc.org/stories/paris-climate-agreement-everything-you-need-know> accessed 12 October 2021.
 ‘Paris Agreement’ (European Commission, 2018) <https://ec.europa.eu/clima/eu-action/international-action-climate-change/climate-negotiations/paris-agreement_en> accessed 14 October 2021.
 Kelley Kizzier, ‘What You Need to Know About Article 6 of the Paris Agreement’ (World Resources Institute, 2 December 2019) <https://www.wri.org/insights/what-you-need-know-about-article-6-paris-agreement> accessed 13 October 2021
 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (adopted 12 December 2015, entered into force 4 November 2016) (Paris Climate Agreement), art 4.2.
 James Cheo, ‘What should investors expect from COP26?’ (Business Times, 21 October 2021) <https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/opinion/what-should-investors-expect-from-cop26> accessed 13 October 2021
 ibid (n 3).
 Ravi Prasad, ‘The carbon markets conundrum at COP26’ (The Hindu, 21 October 2021) <https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/the-carbon-markets-conundrum-at-cop26/article37098773.ece> accessed 14 October 2021.
 Simon Evans and Josh Gabbatiss, ‘How ‘Article 6’ carbon markets could ‘make or break’ the Paris Agreement’ (Carbon Brief, 29 November 2019) <https://www.carbonbrief.org/in-depth-q-and-a-how-article-6-carbon-markets-could-make-or-break-the-paris-agreement> accessed 15 October 2021.
 ibid (n 3).
 ibid (n 4), art 6.
 ibid (n 9).
 ibid (n 3).