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THE GLASGOW GLOBAL CLIMATE CONFERENCE
FIRST: What Does COP Stand For?
COP is short for CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES
NO, No, No… Not THAT kind of Party. It is the PARTIcipents to the UN climate conference. This year’s is the 26th Global Conference held in Glasgow, Scotland, of world leaders meeting to discuss the threat posed by climate change to Earth and possible solutions. The conferences are massive events with a lot of side meetings that attract people from the business sector, fossil fuel companies, climate activists and other groups with a stake in the climate crisis. Some of them are very successful — the Paris Agreement was hammered out during COP21, for example,
No one can change the weather, right? So why meet?
Some people think climate change is only about severe weather — and since so many variables affect the weather they have a hard time buying the whole climate “crisis” concern.
But while the problem behind Climate Change science does have effects in creating severe weather, Climate Change isn’t just about Weather.
What Does NET-ZERO Mean?
It means removing as much greenhouse gas from the atmosphere so that the net amount added is zero. Countries and companies will need to rely on natural methods — like planting trees or restoring grasslands — to soak up carbon dioxide (CO2), [the most abundant greenhouse gas we emit], or use technology to “capture” the gas and store it away where it won’t escape into the atmosphere. Dozens of countries have already pledged to achieve net-zero by mid-century and there is huge pressure by COP26 on countries that haven’t yet pledged to do so.
This Invisible Gas Could Seal Our Fate
For the first time, the UN climate change report emphasized the need to control an invisible, odorless gas with more than 80 times more warming power in the near term than carbon dioxide. The concentration of methane in the atmosphere is higher now than any time in at least 800,000 years.
Why is it a “CRISIS”?
More frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions, and an increase in the number, duration, and intensity of tropical storms. That’s not great especially when it hits close to home — but we’ve always had wildfires, droughts and devastating hurricanes.
Climate Change also includes sea level rise, changes in weather patterns like wider spread and more devastating drought and flooding conditions. Things that we depend upon and value — water, energy, transportation, wildlife, agriculture, ecosystems, and human health — are experiencing the effects of a changing climate.
So what are we really talking about? Maybe it’s hard for our leaders to put into plain language because it’s THAT bad but here’s what we’re really talking about with Climate Change – A LIVABLE PLANET!
So that is what is at stake? Absolutely!
What Did COP 26 Accomplish?
A New Global Agreement –
THE GLASGOW CLIMATE PACT
Was Reached at the COP26 Summit Which Will Set the Global Agenda on Climate Change For The Next Decade
It was agreed countries will meet next year to pledge further cuts to emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to try to keep temperature rises within 1.5C. Scientists say that 1.5C is required to prevent a “climate catastrophe”. (Current pledges, even if met, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C).
For the first time there was an explicit plan to reduce coal use. Coal is responsible for 40% of annual CO2 emissions. However, countries agreed to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal after a late intervention by China and India.
The Pact pledges to significantly increase money to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change and make the switch to clean energy. There’s also the prospect of a trillion-dollar per year Fund from 2025. (A previous pledge to provide $100bn (£72bn) a year by 2020 was missed).
Leaders agreed to phase-out subsidies that artificially lower the price of coal, oil, or natural gas. No firm deadlines have been set.
The world’s biggest CO2 emitters, the US and China, pledged to cooperate more over the next ten years in areas including methane emissions and the switch to clean energy. China has previously been reluctant to tackle domestic coal emissions – so this was seen as recognition of the need for urgent action.
Leaders from more than 100 countries – about 85% of the world’s forests – pledged to stop deforestation by 2030. Trees absorb vast amounts of CO2.
More than 100 countries agreed to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030. Methane is currently responsible for a third of human-generated warming. The big emitters China, Russia, and India haven’t joined – but it’s hoped they will later.
Financial organizations controlling $130tn agreed to back “clean” technology, such as renewable energy, and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries.
How Will Countries Be Made To Meet Their Pledges?
Most commitments made at COP will have to be self-policed. Only a few countries are making their pledges legally binding.
There ihas been progress at Cop 26, but the planet’s fate still hangs in the balance.
” … As we leave Glasgow”, US climate envoy John Kerry said, “our code word is going to be implementation, follow-up, and follow-through.”
But he warned that Cop26 was “not the finish line”, and was never going to be. Nations would still have much more work to do on their emissions-cutting goals to ensure the 1.5C limit was viable.
Former President Barack Obama at COP26: ‘U.S. is back’
Stealing the show at COP 26 President OBama addressed the youth with empathy and encouragement: “There are times where I feel discouraged, there are times when the future seems somewhat bleak, there are times when I am doubtful that humanity can get its act together before it’s too late,” he said. “Images of dystopia creep into my dreams.”
But, he cautioned, “cynicism is the recourse of cowards. We can’t afford hopelessness.”
“The cold hard fact is, we will not have more ambitious climate plans coming out of governments unless governments feel some pressure from voters,” he continued.
“Don’t think you can ignore politics,” Mr. Obama said. “You don’t have to be happy about it. But you can’t ignore it. You can’t be too pure for it. ”
He also cautioned on the limits of protests and what he called ‘hashtag campaigns’. “Protests are necessary. Hashtag campaigns can spread awareness. But to build the broad-based coalitions necessary for bold action, we will have to persuade people who either don’t currently agree with us or are simply indifferent. There are workers and communities that still depend on coal for power and jobs, and are more concerned about maintaining their wages now than they are about a warmer planet ten or twenty years from now.”
He concluded, “I believe we can secure our future. We have to. And what a profound and noble task we have set for ourselves.”