Updated: Apr 17
Leaders gather at COP26 conference in Glasgow ᶦ
Earlier this month, the long-awaited and much talked about COP26 drew to a close in Glasgow. For the second time this year, leaders from around the world gathered for the 26th annual summit. Six years have passed since the historic Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. As agreed, all parties to the agreement are to set more ambitious goals every five years to ensure that their goals do not remain stagnant (the conference was originally due to take place in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic).
Over the course of the fourteen-day conference, new targets and plans were laid out to ensure the survival of the original commitment to limit global warming to 1.5ºC. But what exactly was agreed?
A well-funded pledge to stop deforestation by 2030 was made by over 100 countries accounting for 85% of the world’s forests.ᶦᶦ
While promises to reduce energy dependency on coal were welcomed, the many compromises made alongside these commitments have been ill-received.
India and China were reluctant to agree to a “phasing out” of coal, opting instead for a “phasing down”.
As such ‘tweaks’ become increasingly more common, the patience of many climate activists has also begun to phase out.
Yet another ‘save the date’ was added to the calendar as leaders are set to meet in 2022 to further reduce carbon emissions.
The US and China have agreed to cooperate more in their efforts to reduce their carbon footprints which account for almost 40% of global emissions.ᶦᶦᶦ
Over 100 countries signed up to a plan jointly led by the EU and US to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030.ᶦᵛ
All progress made at the summit was consistently matched by corresponding shortcomings. Throughout the talks, the largest contributors to the crisis displayed the feeblest behaviour. Ultimately, it is the smaller nations that are suffering the most at the hands of larger-power complacency. Addressing those in attendance, the president of Palau told leaders “You might as well bomb our islands”. Greta Thunberg described the talks as a “two-week long celebration of business as usual and blah blah blah”.ᵛ Evidently, many people agreed with her remarks as thousands took to the streets of Glasgow to show their dissatisfaction.
Could we call the conference a success, or simply just another successor to the long line of empty promises by suits?
ᶦ The Conversation, ‘COP26: Experts react to the UN climate summit and Glasgow Pact’ (The Conversation, 13 November 2021) < https://theconversation.com/cop26-experts-react-to-the-un-climate-summit-and-glasgow-pact-171753 > 21/11/2021 ᶦᶦ BBC News, ‘COP26 What was agreed at the Glasgow climate conference?’ (BBC News, 15 November 2021) , < https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56901261 > 20/11/2021 ᶦᶦᶦ Newburger E, ‘China’s greenhouse gas emissions exceed those of U.S. and developed countries combined, report says’ (CNBC, 6 May 2021),< https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/06/chinas-greenhouse-gas-emissions-exceed-us-developed-world-report.html> 19/11/2021 ᶦᵛ BBC News, ‘COP26 What was agreed at the Glasgow climate conference?’ (BBC News, 15 November 2021) , https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56901261 > 20/11/2021 ᵛ BBC News, ‘COP26: Greta Thunberg tells protest that COP26 has been a ‘failure’” (BBC News, 5 November 2021)< https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-59165781 > 20/11/2021