COP26: a meta-perspective | The Daily Star
Was the COP26, held in Glasgow, a success or a failure? It seems like everyone has a different opinion on what the two-week summit achieved. A skeptic might say that there has been a lot of talk and empty promises, but even a hardline realist like myself would have to admit that some important milestones were reached at the end of the day.
I did not go to Glasgow due to previous engagements but also from my previous experience I could say that for me it would have been pointless if I had not committed to stay there for the entire duration and to attend all the sessions, doing a “jump, jump and jump” like an Olympic athlete to go from one event to another. I would have loved to hear Barack Obama, Alok Sharma and Greta Thunberg speak (although Greta was not “officially” invited, according to media reports). However, to achieve these goals, I would have had to be like Superman, flying from arena to arena while keeping track of time and my physical limitations.
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The good news is that, from afar, I have been able to keep up to date with everything that has been accomplished, as well as any shortcomings. I now know that the 1.5 degree Celsius goal is not achievable. Net zero by 2050 was initially not very likely, and the poorest countries will only get a fraction of what they need to meet all mitigation and adaptation goals. On the other hand, we will see the end of deforestation, the possible end of the tyranny of fossil fuels by the end of this century, and a greater commitment to collaboration among nations to reduce pollution. carbon emissions.
One thing was clear even before the rally began in Glasgow. There was an over-expectation. The international climate summit has been touted by its chief organizer as the “last and best hope” to save the planet. The climate summit remains “our last and best hope to keep 1.5 within reach,” said Alok Sharma, the UK government minister chairing the climate talks. “We have to make it a success,” said Patricia Espinoza, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Was COP26 a success, then? For the school “the glass half full”, that is to say the optimist, there is reason to rejoice. Major agreements were made, the conference ended without much disappointment, and it ended peacefully. However, the media have said that “the glass is half empty”, or that the summit is full of empty promises, with no major tangible achievements to show for it. The conference was ridiculed by some as a jamboree with all the talk and no substance.
The statistics for COP26 are nevertheless impressive. A total of 197 countries participated and attendees ranged from “heads of state and industry titans” (New York Times) to more than 100,000 protesters from all walks of life chanting for “immediate action” in Glasgow Green.
About 105 countries have agreed to reduce emissions of methane, a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas, by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020. More than 130 countries have pledged to stop and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.
More than 40 countries, including Canada, Poland, South Korea and Ukraine, have agreed to phase out their use of coal-fired electricity, the dirtiest fuel source. Our neighbor, India, which is the world’s fourth largest emitter, has pledged to join the net zero club by 2070.
India’s commitment in 2070 was quickly reversed by its other neighbor, Pakistan. Malik Amin Aslam, adviser to the Pakistani prime minister, scoffed at some of the announced long-term net zero targets. “With an average age of 60, I don’t think anyone in the negotiating room would live to experience that net zero in 2070,” he said.
There were a lot of skeptics, including Greta Thunberg from Sweden, who laughed at “blah blah blah”, that is, big speeches. “It’s no secret that COP26 is a failure,” she said. “This COP26 is so far like previous COPs – and it got us nowhere,” Thunberg said, addressing climate activists who had gathered in Glasgow.
As the Glasgow negotiations began, a United Nations (UN) report threw cold water on the commitments made by nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. UN analysts have counted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), plans to reduce emissions over the next decade, and estimated the world is on track to warm by about 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100. “To limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN said, global fossil fuel emissions are expected to fall by about half between 2010 and 2030. Instead, emissions are expected to increase during this period, “according to The New York Times. In fact, emissions will increase by 13% by 2030.
“The reality is you have two different truths,” said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics at the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank in Washington, DC. “We have made a lot more progress than we could ever have imagined a few years ago. But it is still far from enough,” she said.
A more recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) is less alarming, however. IEA estimates suggest that all climate commitments announced to date, if fulfilled in full and on time, would be sufficient to keep global temperatures rising to 1.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. To be successful, what is needed in the decades to come is strengthened implementation and clearer follow-up or monitoring.
Dr Abdullah Shibli is an economist and works in the field of information technology. He is also a senior researcher at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISDI), a think tank based in Boston, United States.