1.5 degrees is now in the driving seat:
Despite vague language in much of the final statement and too many “incentives” and not enough “decisions to”, Cop26 delivered a big win.
It’s like acknowledging that the world – all 197 countries supporting the 2015 Paris Agreement – must move quickly to keep temperature rises by 1.5 degrees to avoid dangerous climate impacts.
Critically, key resolutions to address greenhouse gas reductions in line with keeping global temperatures rising to 1.5 degrees have been maintained.
This needs to be reinforced by “best available science”. It means countries will no longer succeed with “we strive to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees” – the infamous political escape that crossed the Paris pact.
The control of 2.4 degrees:
Pledges to cut emissions (mitigation) in “nationally determined contributions” were significantly strengthened in the run up to and during Cop26 summit, after relentless pressure for increased ambition from hosts the British government – with the “keep 1.5 degrees alive” reminders at every turn .
Ireland made their piece rowing with their 51 per cent cut. Our poor delivery on achieving cuts remains a problem, but that goal means we are among those who show the most ambition.
After week 1, analysts suggested that everything added that the world is on target for less than 2 degrees, and maybe even 1.8 degrees; historical first. It injected optimism into negotiation.
The suck punch was later when Climate Action Tracker – the most reliable modelers in the world – said no, commitments if delivered would mean a 2.4-degree world. In short, an uninhabitable Earth; more intense and ferocious extreme weather events and a sea level rise of several meters this century. Turn on sadness at Cop26.
It was agreed that nations will be asked to return next year to bolster their hitherto inadequate emissions reduction targets – 1.5 degrees have yet to be kept alive but direction of travel is clear.
The terrible “here and now” scenario:
Global leaders including Taoiseach Micheál Martin landed for the first two days and in an optimistic fashion supported greater ambition and participated in a flurry of announcements in the form of alliances between various combinations of countries on coal removal; dealing with deforestation, methane and wasting vast amounts of private capital.
Entering complex negotiations, that appetite for greater collective action dissipated when a number of major emission states returned to typing.
It was almost as if too many parties did not believe the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which concluded that the climate crisis is here and now – and no place is safe.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, and others, have repeatedly stressed mitigation the key lever to enforce global temperatures and should be “science, fact based not ideological or political.” There may be the promise of technological solutions such as “carbon capture and storage” to achieve network zero. But this is unproven on a scale so “we can’t bank on that … We have to act now.”
Methane moves the central stage:
The overheating greenhouse gas methane, arising from fossil fuel production and agriculture, is now the big “no no” in the global fight against global warming. More than 110 countries have supported efforts to reduce levels by 30 percent by 2030, rowing with a pact between the United States and the EU.
This was further underscored when, unexpectedly, the US and China pushed aside differences on other issues and announced a plan to work together on climate action over the next decade, backed by a tangible relationship in Glasgow between John Kerry and top Chinese negotiator Xie Zhenhua. At the top of their agol list was methane. This is because cutting levels ensure the fastest win in cooling global temperatures.
Unprecedented public engagement:
There is no doubt that mobilization of civil society is on an unprecedented level throughout that world. This was evident in Glasgow despite an obvious exclusion of activists; shutting many activists away from the site, Covid preventing many of the poorer countries present, staggering costs for most attending the summit, and it feels “a little too white and elite” inside – amid heavy security at every access point.
This unstoppable force for change was encapsulated by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutterres, who praised “the moral voice of young people holding our feet to the fire … the dynamics and example of indigenous communities, the tireless commitment of women’s groups …” [and] the action of more and more cities around the world ”.
Stress of climate activism is constantly building up:
But there is a critical trend evident among young climate activists who attended Cop26. They carry a heavy burden of care. Many feel acute eco-anxiety and are prone to it. The issue governs their lives as they should proceed with living and dealing with the life journeys of discovery.
Undoubtedly, this is compounded by their voices not being audible enough; they in turn receive symbolic access to negotiations when they have a justifiable case to be at the table.
As Senior President Mary Robinson noted, when Greta Thunberg uses language like blah, blah, blah, “they say‘ is that all? ’- when they deserve action and assurance that is not the case.Another young Irish climate justice activist , Valery Molay, questioned whether it was worthwhile to keep coming to police – yet this is the only available multilateral mechanism the world has for climate action.
Global efforts will not go in the right direction without their full participation, and politicians will fail the attempt to “provide a fair transition” unless they broaden their narrow mindset on this issue.
Great Oil did not leave:
The world is finally starting to decarbonize and coal is on track for removal but the fossil fuel sector has been too obvious. The NGO Global Witness established at least 503 fossil fuel lobbyists, affiliated with some of the world’s largest oil and gas giants, were given access to Cop26, “flooding the Glasgow conference with corporate influence”.
Along with large oil-producing countries – particularly Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Russia – their fingerprint was evident with a weakening of the draft text, which ultimately resulted in “acceleration of coal phase and inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels”. Some developing countries have claimed that it provides loop holes allowing them to continue their pollution activities – despite being the single largest source of emission.
The Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance may be just a coalition of less than 10 countries (including Ireland) but it marks a shift in access from countries committed to greater ambition, and puts a big sign for change. It intends to build to a point where turning off the fossil fuel tap is central to global climate deals with firmer timelines – as opposed to the failed approach of trying to limit oil and gas emissions.
Boris on the world stage:
With typical unbridled enthusiasm British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried to persuade world leaders to act on “coal, cars, cash and trees” in front of Cop26. His keynote speech won some applause, although his comparison of the climate crisis with James Bond being attached to a doomsday device was greeted with a few nods.
Daily Mirror opinion piece had the headline: “Drilled more Johnny English than James Bond as hypocrisy turns Cop26 a moment into a farce”.
While having dinner with comrades to attend a posh London club, he jumped on a private jet and flew home emitting 1,000 kg of CO2 when the train would have emitted just 20 kg. He returned the following week trying to bang his head together in search of greater urgency; his press conference was dominated by the murky controversy.
A lesson in effective diplomacy was provided by Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon despite her country not being an official party at the summit. She committed £ 1 million to loss and damage efforts to help developing countries, and there was a strong marginal presence everywhere. She doubled that funding before the finish, winning applause for Scotland’s cohesion on climate action.
The country in charge of the negotiations, Britain, has cut off foreign aid just before Glasgow, which has done little to build trust with vulnerable countries already suffering from global warming, although Cop26 President Alok Sharma has done much to restore relations.
The great pivot of capitalism:
This was the Police where the financial world was finally seen preparing for a net-zero world, and it will be supported for availability of private funds. Some have insisted that the vast sums that will be expended amount to a complete reorientation of capitalism.
The big announcement to date was $ 130 trillion “of capital earmarked for net zero” from the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a group of 450 banks, fund managers and insurers led by UN climate envoy Mark Carney, a former governor of Net Zero. the Bank of England.
“The implication of this number is that finance is greening the world,” one skeptical banker told the FT. The reality is that the transition will require huge state intervention backed by money from the private sector. The risk for GFANZ is that by over-promising, private finance under delivery.
Mr. Carney defended the scope of commitments and structure for delivery over the coming decades. “People will no longer tolerate worthy statements followed by vain gestures. They won’t be content with governments making announcements at summits that they don’t meet at home, or companies that speak green but don’t act. That’s why we worked to transform the heart of finance, ”he added.
An urgent gap is striking:
This was supposed to be the Police of “no more sound bytes, no more empty promises, no more blah, blah, blah”. It may not have been until that billing, but it was also not a “festival of green washing” dominated by the Global North, as Thunberg claimed.
There have been repeated supports of the climate crisis but an obvious lack of translation of this into the level of urgency now required to have a better chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
The testimonies of countries at the front have been really terrible because many face a future where “there is no high place”. They are experiencing a relentless rise in sea level with the risk that their countries will disappear and their citizens will become refugees.
“You could also bomb us,” said Surangel Whipps Jr., president of Palau, an archipelago of more than 500 islands in the western Pacific, speaking of the pain in watching his country suffer a “slow and painful death”.