Written by Jim Sandoe. This piece was first published on November 11, 2021 in an email from Lancaster Stands Up. Reprinted here with permission from the author.
You have probably been hearing about it on the news and online, but what exactly is COP26 in Glasgow? It is the 26th yearly Conference of Parties for members of the United Nations to work on the urgent problem of climate change. At the 2015 Paris conference, a set of guidelines were adopted by all members. Since that time, nations have been meeting to work out the details of how to implement the Paris Agreement which created a limit of 2 degrees centigrade (3.6 F) in global warming while stating a preference to keep the rise to 1.5C (2.7F). This year’s meeting has very specific goals
- Secure Global Net Zero Emissions (no emissions produced that are not offset by green projects) and keep 1.5C degrees within reach. This will require all countries to start with what they agreed to in Paris and go even further.
- Adapt to Protect Communities and Natural Habitats.
- Mobilize Finance. This is the most difficult hurdle. Under the Paris Agreement, higher income countries committed to spending $100 billion to finance climate adaptation and emissions reduction. Most higher income countries have not yet met their pledge.
Enhance Collaboration by Defining and Agreeing to detailed rules of the Paris Agreement and accelerating action against climate change— Here we run into how much of a monetary penalty countries that don’t meet their goals will incur and the mechanism for enforcement.As the devastating effects of climate change increase year after year, this year’s conference has an extra sense of urgency. At our current rate of emissions, we will hit the 1.5-degree target by the early 2030’s. To solve climate change we must also solve global poverty—they are inextricably linked. Climate change amplifies the already existing divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. We can already see this happening in real time. For poor people living in low-income countries agriculture, water, heat, and drought are already happening at an alarming pace. By 2050, more than 1 billion people will be forced from their homes and forced to migrate. Even in higher income countries, coastal cities and towns will suffer major financial losses and forced migration. In the U.S., the burden will fall mostly on our Black and Hispanic populations (and mostly women within these populations). Historically, these peoples have created the least pollution among us, and yet they will receive the vast majority of the consequences.
This morning, as the summit approached its end, a draft of an agreement was written. It calls for a doubling of funds to assist poorer nations to deal with climate impacts, and calls on all countries to boost their emissions-cutting targets by next year. But many provisions of the draft face an uphill battle. Nations are nowhere near agreement. There are disputes over the amount of money and the pace of emissions reductions.
Last week the summit world leaders made two new pledges to reduce deforestation and to cut methane emissions by 30% in this decade. But climate activists are skeptical of new pledges when past pledges have not been met. Tens of thousands of protesters descended upon Glasgow this past weekend to voice their impatience.
The only way to make sure that these world leaders live up to their lofty promises is to keep up the pressure. For the sake of the planet and humanity we must make sure they follow through. It’s not an impossible task, but it’s up to us. Get Involved with our local Citizens Climate Lobby: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/chapters/PA_Lancaster/.
NOTE: COP26 was held on November 7-12, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.
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