This COP26 faltered. It was supposed to be an epic event. It should have been a moment to galvanise international political will to protect the Earth from its high-carbon addiction, and speed the transition to a low-carbon future.
Instead, instead of celebrating our environmental progress, more than 2,000 delegates resorted to ridiculing a previous agreement to cut the global emissions at the 2015 Paris Agreement. And while one man spoke, no one listened.
Many countries are facing climate catastrophe, but for those in international politics, talk is cheap. Yes, we need to boost efficiency, improve technology and make better choices, but it won’t be enough to deliver any meaningful, legally binding and meaningful 2020 emissions cuts, as well as measures to protect oceans and cities and provide more access to clean water.
Our time is running out
Which is why our time is running out.
The 2050 Paris target of net zero emissions is unrealistic given the scale of political and financial resources required. China, India and the US are all growing very fast, and they don’t want to slow down.
Although the pledges made at the Paris Agreement, if stuck to, will set us up to tackle global warming by limiting warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial times, we still face a rise of 3°C. But this will lead to a very different and dangerous planet.
At COP26, Norway, Costa Rica and Mexico were the most innovative and bold. They committed to implementing emission reduction measures that would help them stick to their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Cooperation and disclosure
They also committed to maintain and sustain the integrity of the legal aspects of the treaty. For example, Paris requires countries to make emissions accounting, just like they are required to declare their emissions.
So we need more of this. This COP should have provided a roadmap to make it a reality, but we’ve only received a little commitment in the form of a “declaration of intent” from major economy Brazil to report on its emissions, but without any measures to improve its transparency on emissions levels.
To be credible, we must strengthen transparency and accountability. Today we are heading nowhere. That must change.
How you can help
At home, you can help by mobilising for climate action through your local political office. The Climate Change Act of 2016 encourages your local MPs to commit to acting on the environment. Contact your MP and tell them that they must put climate action at the top of their list of priorities.
When it comes to global politics, you can do your bit by getting engaged with your local movements too.
Examples of climate action within your local community include recycling, using public transport, changing light bulbs and joining community campaigns to protect our climate. The more people involved the more effective we will all be in bringing down our carbon emissions.
Join the COP28 negotiations in Katowice on 4-14 December as your community mobilises around the world to address climate change. Whether you live in Glasgow, Reykjavik, Paris or Nairobi, this is a global crisis that will affect us all. Help to protect the planet,
Shannon Duffin is a digital media policy officer at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO).