The conference of the parties where world leaders group together to discuss how we can tackle climate change, has been under scrutiny as of late. We previously discussed the possible COP26 outcomes from this year’s event; the resolution of the Paris Agreement and Article 6, greener living solutions, official climate pledges, and issues surrounding global warming and deforestation.
In previous talks, world leaders have been overly-ambitious with their deadlines to take climate action. Making promises to cease climate change by 2030 and become fully carbon neutral. Promises that have been scorned by activist Greta Thunburg and frustrated climate scientists who believe the event has now been greenwashed into nothing more than an overinflated PR stunt. Has this year’s COP26 event been taken more seriously and finally provided solutions to climate change? Let’s find out…
One of the major successes of COP26 was revisiting and strengthening the structure behind the Paris Agreement in an attempt to stay on track with its goal to keep the global average temperature as close as possible to 1.5 degrees celsius. Part of this included the revision of Article 6, an internal mechanism of the Paris Agreement that hones in on the collaboration between countries to obtain 1.5 degrees collectively.
Article 6 is viewed as “The Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’” covering mainly international cooperation, accounting, and carbon markets. It was heavily reviewed across the 2 week period, with intentions to enforce a solid structure for nations to follow in the upcoming years.
The newly revised and approved rulebook brings good news, as it promises to unlock market and non-market approaches on both climate change mitigation and adaptation by:
A tricky (although it shouldn’t be) aspect of the COP events is its pledges. Typically, pledges are casually thrown about with little thought behind them, becoming a primary igniter of attendees’ frustrations. “We will spend this amount of money on this area of climate change”, “We will no longer use this environmentally destructive resource” and the favourite: “We will be carbon neutral by 2030”. These are what world leaders promise to be their next attempt to take action. Although it is often overly ambitious and quoted without evidence as to whether their claims will actually be successful.
This year, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi provided an exuberant carbon pledge. Announcing that the country – a major polluter – intends to generate half its electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
Most experts state that even with 50 years on the clock, the net-zero target by 2070 is extremely ambitious. Others are adamant we don’t have 50 years to work with, and that effective change needs to happen now, as it should have in previous years.
Nevertheless, pledges aren’t all bad, and most boast significant change. Even a slight movement in the right direction will combat the lack of emission commitments made to date by other major polluters including Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China.
There was a lot of discussion surrounding funding for less developed countries at COP26 this year. It was previously pledged that $100bn a year would go towards helping poorer countries stay on track towards climate change. However, the UN revealed this target was not met, and with many nations still unable to get themselves over to Glasgow this year, there was a strong demand for COP26 world leaders to deliver greater financial commitments.
It was one of the first issues addressed, with a number of countries announcing new climate-finance pledges to help less-developed nations.
The UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Norway and Spain have all pledged to give money towards climate adaptation. With an estimated worth of $96bn a year going towards developing countries by the end of 2022.
If developed countries stick to their word and increase their support to developing countries, meeting climate targets will not only become a priority like it is in developed nations but sustaining the global average temperature of 1.5c will be hugely easier to achieve. Up until now, developing countries have been angry at the false promises and lack of delivery for such a huge manifesto that it is now crucial that the 6.5 billion people living in these developing nations finally receive what is owed.
80,000 acres of rainforest are currently being destroyed a day, and with that in mind COP26 goals aimed to finally halt the staggering levels of deforestation that is so brutally affecting climate change. An agreement was reached early on in the COP26 event and marked one of the better COP26 outcomes.
More than 100 world leaders agreed to reverse the effects of deforestation by 2030. Most importantly Brazil, who have notoriously cut down huge stretches of it’s own Amazon rainforest in recent years. It is a pledge with high hopes. Having already been backed with almost £14bn ($19.2bn) of public and private funds. The sum will be portioned out accordingly- to developing countries, restoring land damage and to aid in tackling wildfires.
Alongside deforestation, coal has been a substantial ailment to the health of the planet. Greenhouse gases released from burning coal are the largest contributor to climate change, and with this status has made it a priority topic of discussion at this year’s COP. A pledge to refrain from using coal has gathered signatures from major banks and a total of 46 counties. 23 of which have made solid commitments to end coal for the first time ever.
However, the absence of Australia, India, the US and China from the pledge has drawn criticism. With climate leaders finding the pledge underwhelming, as huge nations are allowed to carry on as normal while other, smaller nations, make minor progress.
The COP26 event is not as easy, to sum up in one single breath as it should be. They are conferences that have spanned years and will continue to do so going forward. While we may not have a solid solution to climate change yet, undoing our wrongs is looking likely with a number of small feats before the big change will be seen.
COP26 has a nature to enter the philosophical debate, with an argument always looming in conjunction with most pledges and solutions to climate change. Nonetheless, if the pledges and processes confirmed above are adhered to and we start making immediate progress, it is looking likely that positive change can be achieved within the next year. This means that the arrival of the next COP event (COP27) will be beneficial in tracking these claims and finally, after putting the wheels in motion, seeing some progress.
COP events are necessary for influential change to happen when regarding climate change. COP26 outcomes have been mostly positive.
Together we can take climate action, using our businesses to end the climate crisis and honour the United Nations Sustainability Goals.
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