In August of this year, GreenEarth Cleaning published a blog regarding the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel, following the publication of its Climate Change report.
The report delivered the starkest warnings yet. The latest findings, approved by 195 member states, dealt with the physical science basis of climate change and how humans are changing the planet.
We also discussed COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, and how it was considered more vital than ever that firm agreement to carbon emission reduction targets be put in place and actions to support this take place as a matter of urgency.
So, what were the main takeaways from COP26, and what can everyone do to play their part?
- Phase Down Fossil Fuels but Not Phase Out—At the beginning of negotiations, there were discussions around moving away from coal and fossil fuel subsidies. By the time of the second draft of the deal, the language had changed to urging countries to move away from “unabated coal” and “inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.”
On the final Saturday of COP26, China and India successfully pushed for another last-minute change to the crucial phrase, saying they would agree only to “phase-down unabated coal,” rather than “phase-out.”
Whilst many were disappointed about the phasing down of fossil fuels rather than out, the text did represent the first-ever mention of coal and fossil fuel subsidies in such a deal.
- Focus on 1.5 degrees centigrade—This was the target set in Paris in 2016. Whilst it is believed that there is a small chance to achieve this, drastic changes would need to be made and promises kept. Most thinking would suggest achieving somewhere between 2 and 2.5 degrees, depending on the commitment of all nations.
- Timeline Acceleration—The deal “requests” that world leaders “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 targets under the Paris agreement, known as “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs), by the end of 2022. This compares to a typical five-year timeline for countries to submit new or updated NDCs. The hope is that this will keep commitments in the front of governments’ and citizens’ minds when it comes to combatting climate change.
- Funding Future Loss and Damage—whilst almost every part of the globe will see the negative impacts of climate change (if not already), there are said to be around 50 countries that are at a greater risk. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were to stop today, a lot of the damage has already been caused. Therefore, the 50 or so countries will need additional financial support to combat the effects.
However, delegates agreed to start a “dialogue” about the idea, angering those who say such reparations are long overdue.
- Voices of the Young—There was a large presence of young people in Glasgow voicing their passionate opinions on how climate change will impact theirs and future generations’ lives the most. The presence was felt more outside the venue, where more than 100,000 people marched to demand climate action. It even struck a chord with former US President Barack Obama telling the youth of today to “stay angry” about inaction on global warming.
So, what next? Well, the deal is an important development, but many would say that it’s not enough. However, it is something that can be built on, and it saw some firsts and requests that countries review their commitments more regularly.
It’s easy to blame a government (whatever your political persuasions might be) for what they do and don’t do. Equally, we don’t necessarily need policy change for us to make a change—it can start with our personal goals, actions, and statements.