COP26 has concluded. Where do we stand?

Imagine COP26 taking place, as originally scheduled, in November 2020. Virtually or assuming Covid occurred later in this century, the thought exercise makes me wonder if those who had time at home with fewer distractions during Covid gave us the space or potentially forced us to reexamine everything EXCEPT our distractions.

Mental health, human rights, and climate change all fall into this bucket of huge messy topics that we struggle to find the answers for and require individuals and groups to “do the work” to get it right.

This begs the question; did we do the work required at COP26?

The Glasgow Climate Pact starts the work.

What was achieved:

  • A commitment to further accelerate decarbonization plans and strengthen 2030 emissions-reduction targets for by 2022 (vs. 2025).

  • Rules to create a framework for a global carbon market were approved.

  • Developed countries will be required to report on their progress towards increasing funding for adaptation in developing countries.

  • The need to reduce global GHG emissions by 45% by 2030 and the role of fossil fuels were formally recognized.

  • Phasing down of unabated coal and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.

  • Money ($96B by 2022 in mostly loans) to support developing countries to support adaptation projects and help them switch to renewable energy sources.

What was excluded:

  • Coal will be phased down…but not out.

  • Money for loss and damage to support developing and climate vulnerable countries.

  • A concrete plan to keep us under the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, the goal is attainable, but just barely, and will depend on future negotiations and subsequent actions. Some experts estimate that current commitments are estimated to barely keep us under 2.0 degrees Celsius, not good enough.

These results of COP26 illustrate the challenge of getting countries with wildly differing priorities to act boldly.

The reality is that we are behind in our actions to make a meaningful impact, and much time has been wasted. It will take some major breakthroughs in technology and the mobilization of trillions of dollars to carry us towards a climate future in which subsequent generations can survive and thrive.

If you are interested in more detail, here is The Glasgow climate pact, annotated by the Washington Post as a helpful guide. Below are also some great pieces that we have been reading.


Buoyant’s Round of News from COP26

…Reading

  • Thomas Friedman highlights the role of GenZers in Glasgow, how individuals can support the effort, and worrying rhetoric being used to support the wrong type of adaptation solutions: The Climate Summit Has Me Very Energized, and Very Afraid

  • If there was a fantasy league for COP this would be a must read article. Matt McGrath from the BBC does a fantastic job of breaking down the key negotiators, their roles and their past experiences. Climate change: Five dealmakers who will influence the outcome at COP26

  • "Blah blah blah" needs proof proof proof, Leaders who made (even more) pledges, commitments, now need to be held accountable. While Al Gore is on it with his Climate TRACE initiative, the talk at COP so far still has us barely on track for 1.5C of warming. This has stirred energy and opportunity in digital monitoring and management technologies in methane, deforestation, satellite imagery, etc. (CTVC newsletter 11/8, and WSJ)

  • Skeptical scientists A few experts paying attention to COP have seen this before and won't be fooled. When asked whether she's optimistic about COP, Katharine Hayhoe said she's "hopeful, where hope is the small possibility of something better. That possibility exists. It's now up to people to recognize that what's at risk is not the planet ... what's at risk is quite literally us." Peter Scott, in the most tentative of tones, said he's "marginally more optimistic now than [he] was at the start [of COP]." (The Guardian Science Weekly Podcast 11/10 Episode)

  • President Obama, through his own remarks, seemed to capture a few main ideas discussed at COP26. The first -- headline-grabbing political pressure --  relates back to accountability. "To all the young people out there - I want you to stay angry. I want you to stay frustrated." The second was the idea that developed nations should help developing nations that have contributed the least to climate change but stand to lose the most. (BBC, Reuters)

…Watching

12-foot puppet marched in Glasgow to raise awareness for climate refugees

…Listening To

We’ve really enjoyed The Climate Pod’s coverage of COP26 and expect them to continue to have new episodes that cover this topic.


For fun (since you’ve made it this far…)

A look at the climate actions the city of Glasgow took to set an example for cities around the world, read here about the Greenprint for Investment.


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