What lessons should Rotary GB&I learn from COP26?
Report from George Spiteri – District 1040 Environment Lead I think COP26 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. The move from “phase out” to “phase down” was a huge disappointment….
Summary of COP 26 – on a page
A new global agreement – the Glasgow Climate Pact – was reached at the COP26 summit. It aims to reduce the worst impacts of climate
change. The agreement – although not legally binding – will set the global agenda on climate change for the next decade:
Countries agreed to meet in 2022 to pledge further cuts of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission to try to keep
temperature rises within 1.5C. Current pledges, if met, will only limit global warming to about 2.4C.
For the first time at a COP conference, there was an explicit plan to reduce use of coal – which is
responsible for 40% of annual CO2 emissions. However, countries only agreed a weaker commitment
to “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal after a late intervention by China and India.
The agreement pledged 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 a
year fund from 2025 – after a previous pledge for richer countries to provide $100bn (£72 bn) a year by
2020 was missed; while some observers say the COP26 agreement represented the “start of a break through”,
some African and Latin American countries felt not enough progress was made.
Fossil fuel subsidies
World leaders agreed to phase-out subsidies that artificially lower the price of coal, oil, or natural gas.
However, no firm dates have been set.
A flurry of other announcements were made:
The world’s biggest CO2 em itters, the US and China , pledged to cooperate more over the next decade
in areas including methane emissions and the switch to clean energy. China has previously been
reluctant to tackle domestic coal emissions – this was seen as recognising the need for urgent action.
Leaders of over 100 countries – with about 85% ofthe world’s forests – promised to stop deforestation
by 2030; seen as vital, as tress absorb vast amounts of CO2. Similar initiatives haven’t stopped
deforestation, but this one’s better funded. However, it’s unclear how the pledge will be policed.
A scheme to cut 30% of methane emissions by 2030 was agreed by more than 100 countries; 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 organisations controlling $130tn agreed to back “clean” technology, such as renewable
energy, and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries. The initiative is an attempt to
involve private companies in meeting netzero targets.
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.
George Spiteri firstname.lastname@example.org