COP26 – Governments Cannot Solve Climate Crisis
Earlier this month we saw the events of the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) unfold. Over 25,000 delegates from 200 countries attended, with the aim to negotiate climate actions and ultimately limit global warming to 1.5C. However, in keeping with previous years, the outcome of the conference (the Glasgow Climate Pact) did little more than demonstrate that we cannot rely on governments to solve the climate crisis.
The agreed-upon actions recorded in the Glasgow Climate Pact will do little to limit global temperature rise. Below is a summary of some of the key points.
Carbon Dioxide emissions reduction targets were not agreed upon, but the decision to discuss these targets more frequently was agreed upon. If the current emissions pledges are met, this will only limit global warming to 2.4C, a still catastrophic level of warming.
Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and largest single source of global temperature rises. To hit the target of limiting global warming to 1.5C, over 40% of the world’s coal-fired power plants would need to be closed by 2030. Despite this, delegates at the conference resisted the commitment to “phase out” coal-fired power generation, opting instead for a “phase down”.
Funding for developing nations experiencing loss and damage caused by climate change was not agreed upon, and will be raised again in next year’s conference.
Subsidies that lower the prices of oil, natural gas, and coal were agreed to be phased out, although no dates for this were set.
The issues of the climate crisis and global warming mitigation are clearly geopolitically complicated. The world is not a level playing field. Countries differ drastically regarding finances, resources, populations, economic interests, and size, and in their vulnerability to climate change damages. Considering this, expecting all countries to come to climate change agreements inherently means there will have to be heavy compromises, which fundamentally weaken climate change responses.
Relying on international summits like COP26 and governments to solve the climate crisis is not going to work. Individuals, communities, and businesses need to act now to reduce their own impacts, and convince their governments to do the same.