Our planet is a decade away from catastrophic heating. Are the promises and action plans made over the next two weeks at Cop26 going to be enough to save us from this existential crisis at our fingertips? As world leaders and their teams of negotiators gather for the UN summit that is now only days away, they prepare to demonstrate to us how they will achieve the aim they set in Paris 2015. That is, securing global net zero by mid century, keeping 1.5c degrees within reach, adapting to protect communities and natural habitats, and mobilizing finance.
In Paris they promised, but will Glasgow deliver?
During the conference, each leader will demonstrate their commitment to slowing our climate crisis, for example, Boris Johnson urges action on ‘coal, cars, cash and trees’. Speaking at the pre-COP in Milan, Johnson said he has “seen positive progress so far, but it isn’t enough” and that he was looking forward to “meeting with leaders – from big emitters to climate vulnerable nations – to make sure COP26 counts”.
For the developed world to “kick the coal habit entirely by 2030, and the developing world by 2040”.
For the world to abandon fossil fuel, internal combustion engine machines.
For the richest nations that have historically produced most of the world’s carbon to recommit to supporting the rest of the planet to go green “with funds of $100bn per year.
By 2030 “we want to be planting far more trees across the world than we are losing… to restore nature and it’s habitat and ending the massacre of the forests”.
As much as these claims are bold, and ambiguous, at least they have been promised, as Alok Sharma, president of COP26 warns that some of the biggest emitters, such as China and India, have not put forward new action plans, which they promised to do as part of the G20 group.
“The ball is in the court of every G20 country that has not come forward, and we need to see them deliver on their promise… So it’s absolutely right that we continue to press the donor countries to do more, and we continue to press all countries, particularly the biggest emitters, to do more.”
The last of the COP26 aims is to work together to deliver. We all know it’s going to take more than one leader to deliver on their promises, in order to make a big enough change. We can only rise to the challenge of saving our planet if we work collaboratively, from governments, to businesses and individuals.
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