The 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, calledCOP-26 has opened in Glasgow, Scotland. The warm up speech was given at the closing of the G20 meeting in Rome by HRH the Prince Wales, whose long term support for and commitment to environmental issues is well known. The Prince of Wales told world leaders the lives of future generations are "in your hands" and they can no longer ignore "the despairing voices of young people."
For 26 years the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits the COPs to try and address climate change. This year will be the 26th annual summit with the UK serving as host. “We want to be able to say with credibility, coming out of Glasgow, that we have kept 1.5 within reach,” said Alok Sharma, who will serve as president of the proceedings before the conference.
Limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius was aspirational when the Paris Agreement was completed in December 2015 and signed on Earth Day 2016. Now it's the new consensus. The UN climate conference, COP25 in Madrid, failed to accomplished its goals. Matters including Article 6, reporting requirements for transparency and “common timeframes” for climate pledges failed to reach any agreement and were pushed into 2020 which because of the pandemic were pushed into 2021.
Under the Paris Agreement, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims to countries not able to afford the costs of adapting to a changing climate. The parties to the agreement committed to create national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). Furthermore, they agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time. Now is that time.
The key points of the Paris Agreement were:
- The new climate treaty will run from 2020-2030.
- The nations embrace the aim of keeping temperatures “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and aims to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
- Each nation will declare their “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC) instead of the U.N. mandating cuts.
- Countries will review their goals and progress towards the goals every five years.
- The developed countries are obliged to continue to 'mobilize' at least $100 billion (US) a year of public and private finance to help developing countries to address the impacts of climate change.
On October 25th 2021 the UN published an Update of the synthesis report assessing the progress of climate action ahead of the COP26meeting. The update of the Synthesis Report found disappointing results. The report synthesizes information from the 165 latest available NDCs, representing all 192 Parties to the Paris Agreement, including the 116 new or updated NDCs communicated by 143 Parties as on 12 October 2021.
For the group of 143 Parties that submitted new or updated NDCs, total greenhouse gas emissions promised are estimated to be about 9% below the 2010 level by 2030. Of that group 71 nations pledged a carbon neutrality goal around mid-century. This includes the United States who rejoined the Paris accord by executive order of President Biden. The UN report finds that if these goals are met, total greenhouse gas emission level could be 83–88% lower in 2050 than they were in 2019. However, getting to carbon neutrality is a big goal and there is no clear pathway at this time.
The IPCC has estimated that limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5C requires a reduction of CO2 emissions of 45% in 2030 or a 25% reduction by 2030 to limit warming to 2C. If emissions are not reduced by 2030, they will need to be substantially reduced thereafter to compensate for the slow start on the path to net zero emissions, but likely at a higher cost.
Alok Sharma said: “This latest report from the UN makes clear, to protect the world from the most devastating impacts of climate change, countries must take more ambitious action on emissions, and they must act now."
"If countries deliver on their 2030 NDCs and net zero commitments announced …, we will be heading towards average global temperature rises of just above 2C. Analysis suggests the commitments made in Paris would have capped the rise in temperature to below 4C.”
“So there has been progress, but not enough. That is why we especially need the biggest emitters, the G20 nations, to come forward with stronger commitments if we are to keep 1.5C in reach over this critical decade. Glasgow must launch a decade of ever-increasing ambition.”
Lots of words and hope at a time when there is a fuel crisis in Europe and China. World wide we have reduced supply of hydrocarbons ahead of reducing demand and China has an electricity shortage and Europe is heading into winter with a fuel shortage. President Biden was reduced to begging OPEC+ to ramp up production, while pushing to decrease oil and gas production in the Americas. Though our gas prices are up the United States still has enough gas production to get by.