No-one can escape climate change news. Just switch on the radio or television, read a newspaper, or look out the window to see the effect that climate change is having on our planet and, closer to home, our urban and rural spaces and our families. We have to face it and we have to change.
I want, in this short article, to give a little more information about some of the outcomes of COP26 that may affect us all and that you may have missed in the national media coverage. So much information abounds on COP26 – a quick online search can take you deep into complex topics – this article will hopefully provide a helpful overview.
Arguably COP26 was one of the largest and most important events ever held in Scotland.
More than 40,000 people registered to attend – a higher number than for any of the previous 25 COPs.
Tens of thousands of activists visited Glasgow.
Over the course of the two-week event, more than 400 protests were staged in Glasgow (with Police Scotland making just 100 arrests in total).
Almost 500 meetings, events and other engagements were undertaken by Scottish Ministers, many with businesses and potential investors in green innovation, so what were the measurable results?
The Scottish Government made a number of COP26 announcements linked to its commitment to climate action:
They also published additional detail on their policy ambitions for onshore and offshore wind, launched a new hydrogen strategy, and published a new planning framework with climate action at its heart.
The objective of course of all countries attending was to use their engagement, influence and interaction to push for an international agreement that would live up to the urgency of the climate emergency to limit global warning to 1.5°C – and, as a minimum, a tangible mechanism to keep 1.5 alive.
I tend to the view that all of it is laudable and a start but as ever we need action not words.
I have mentioned the absence of the Chinese President at the Conference. Russia’s President also did not attend albeit both countries sent high-ranking officials. We have the trite but illuminating issue of the 290 car motorcade from the USA and then on a much more serious note we can take as an example the fact that we are still at the point that the developed world has not delivered to poorer nations the $100 billion of funding promised in 2009 to pay for loss and damage caused by the 2020 deadline – or even by 2021. It’s all rather worrying for the likes of you and me who are doing our best to play our small part.
I welcome the fact that the necessity of capping temperature increases at 1.5 degrees is no longer questioned. However, the world is still on a path to temperature increases of well over 2 degrees – a death sentence for many parts of the world. To keep 1.5 degrees in reach, global emissions must be almost halved by the end of this decade. So the requirement for countries to come back next year with substantially increased nationally determined contributions is vital. Finance is crucial to faster progress and we will all have to hope that this will be delivered.
One thing we may all be able to do is to ensure that this issue stays at the top of the agenda and that all our politicians take real action is taken to tackle the climate change crisis.
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