‘Climate crisis ‘ has been a buzz word for last thirty years, but not taken seriously at all and now a phenomena in irregular volcanic erruptions, ravaging bush fires, floods and land-slides.
Let us hope that this ‘Cop 26’ is a step in the right direction.
This 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. It is held in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the co-presidency of the United Kingdom and Italy. This conference is the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement.
Most memorable and inspiring remark for me was from 95 year old Sir David Attenborough, who said- My generation has seen a terrible decay , hope yours will see a wonderful restoration.
Countries to work together to make green technology affordable
41 countries and the EU have announced the launch of the Breakthrough Agenda which aims to make green technologies more affordable and accessible.
Countries like USA, India and China signed up to the agenda, which covers a number of areas including power, road transport, steel and hydrogen technologies. Projects include the Green Grids initiative, which aims to link power networks across the world to provide renewably-generated electricity to all.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says: ‘By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, the default go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can cut emissions right around the world.
‘The Glasgow Breakthroughs will turbocharge this forward, so that by 2030 clean technologies can be enjoyed everywhere, not only reducing emissions but also creating more jobs and greater prosperity.’
In order to achieve their goals, countries are pledging to co-ordinate their investments and align their standards to make green technologies a more attractive investment than fossil fuel alternatives. The countries will meet every year from 2022 in order to review their progress.
Her Majesty the Queen has called on leaders to turn their words into actions in an address to COP26.
Queen Elizabeth II was due to address the conference in person, but pulled out after she was advised by doctors to rest.
In a pre-recorded address. the monarch said, ‘In the coming days, the world has the chance to join in the shared objective of creating a safer, stabler future for our people and for the planet on which we depend.
‘None of us underestimates the challenges ahead: but history has shown that when nations come together in common cause, there is always room for hope. Working side by side, we have the ability to solve the most insurmountable problems and to triumph over the greatest of adversities.
‘It is the hope of many that the legacy of this summit will be that you did not pass up the opportunity and answered the call of future generations. That you left this conference as a community of nations with a determination, a desire, and a plan, to address the impact of climate change; and to recognise that the time for words has now moved to the time for action.
‘Of course, the benefits of such actions will not be there to enjoy for all of us here today: none of us will live forever. But we are doing this not for ourselves but for our children and our children’s children, and those who will follow in their footsteps.
‘And so, I wish you every good fortune in this significant endeavour.’
Prince Charles has called for ‘urgent action’ to restructure the world’s economy to protect forests and other habitats across the world.
The future monarch called for action while addressing delegates at COP26, saying that deforestation should be disincentivised while communities and nations that protect forests should be rewarded.
‘Action on forests and land use is vital,’ the prince said. ‘It is here we will explore the scale of the systemic shifts that need to happen really urgently if the world is to succeed in delivering a positive future for people and nature alike.
‘And I mean urgently, as so many people and communities are already suffering seriously from the increasingly dire impacts of climate change. We also have to act before the hydrological cycle breaks down altogether.
Prince Charles added that he had made many speeches like this in the past 40 years ‘to no avail’, and urged leaders to take the actions needed to protect the planet.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged that the country will meet net-zero emission by 2070. While the news has been welcomed, it puts the nation two decades behind the goal set by the UN.
Sir David Attenborough has urged nations to restore the wild , as he took to the stage on the first day of the conference
President Joe Biden announced the US would be making a contribution to the Adaptation Fund, an investment pot that aims to provide funding to countries so that they can adapt to climate change.
President Xi Jingping, who is not attending COP26, pledged China would vigorously develop renewable energy, as part of steps to go green, though made no new pledges in his written speech.
With India announcing its pledge for net-zero emissions, that means for the first time all the largest polluting countries have made commitments:
1. China – 2060
2. United States – 2050
3. India – 2070
4. Russia – 2060
5. Japan – 2050
This comes just after – and at slight odds to – the G20 agreeing that the planet needs to achieve net-zero by the middle of the century.
Despite this, there are suggestions that even though India’s new pledge is 20 years after the planet needs to be climate neutral, it will likely hit this mark before this date. It has been suggested something similar may also happen with China as they ramp up their investment in green technologies.
Among those at COP26 today will be a group of four youth climate activists who arrived yesterday evening on board Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship after initially being told to turn back.
Jakapita Faith Kandanga, Farzana Faruk Jhumu, Edwin Namakanga and Maria Reyes hail from Namibia, Bangladesh, Uganda and Mexico respectively. They represent the areas and people of the world who will most be affected by climate change.
The group set sail for Glasgow from Liverpool on October 30 without having received permission to dock at the venue, which is a restricted area controlled by the United Nations.
However, after arriving in the Firth of Clyde, port authorities have allowed them to dock on the Clyde on November 1 so they could attend the conference.
In a joint statement, the activists said: ‘The authorities have seen sense and now understand that our presence at the climate summit is too important to shut out. It’s ridiculous to think that climate talks could be held without the most affected people there and it’s positive that the police and port authorities have changed their minds.
‘World leaders attending the talks could learn a lot from this cooperation. We have been ignored long enough, and now with a safe passage to Glasgow our voices must be heard at COP26.’
President Joe Biden has announced a range of steps the USA will take to improve its green credentials.
In addition to the Global Methane Pledge, the country will plug oil and gas wells, in addition to remediating abandoned mining land, as part of steps to reduce emissions and restore nature.
It has also announced a range of international partnerships and initiatives, such as the First Movers Coalition, which aim to accelerate investment from private firms into green energy.
There is also a focus on food security, with measures to promote a sustainable ocean economy and investment by farmers into more environmentally-friendly practices.
More than 90 nations have agreed to slash their methane emissions by the end of the decade.
The Global Methane Pledge, spearheaded by the USA and the European Union, agrees that the countries will cut their emissions of the gas by 30% by 2030 compared to 2020. more nations have now joined the pact including half of the top 30 methane emitters.
While climate pacts often focus on carbon dioxide emissions, methane has a warming potential four times greater than it, though it persists for less time in the atmosphere. The majority of methane emissions come from the oil and gas industry, as well as landfill and agriculture.
A recent UN report found that a cut of almost 20% could be achieved with ‘low-cost mitigation measures’ by 2030, while moving to a plant-based diet would cut another 15% of emissions.
These cuts could reduce the impact of global warming by up to 0.4⁰C by 2050.
Some nations intend to go further than the 30% cut, with Canada already pledged to cut 75% of its methane emissions in 2012 by 2030.
Brianna Fruean, the youth representative for the Pacific Climate Warriors Council of Elders, addressed the conference about the issues her nation is facing, saying, ‘When I was a little girl, I was taught the important impact of words. In my culture in Samoa, there is a proverb that goes “E pala ma’a ae le pala upu.” It means that even stones decay, but words remain.
‘It is a lesson in knowing how words can be wielded. How text can change everything. How each word you use is weighted. How switching one word or number can reframe words. How climate action can be vastly different from climate justice. How two degrees could mean the end and how 1.5 could mean a fighting chance.
‘You all have the power here today to be better, to remember that in your meeting rooms and drafting documents are more than just black and white objects. That in your words, you have the weapons which can save us or sell us out. I don’t need to remind you what climate change is doing to vulnerable communities.
‘If you are here today you know what climate change is doing to us. You don’t need my pain or my tears to know that we’re in a crisis. The real question is whether you have the political will to do the right thing, to wield the right words and to follow it up with long-overdue action.’
Múte Bourup Egede, prime-minister of Greenland announced that his nation, a self-governing part of Denmark, would join 194 others (and the European Union) in having signed the agreement at the Nordic Pavilion at COP26.
‘I am proud of the fact that the new Naalakkersuisut, the Government of Greenland, has reached the decision that Greenland should join the Paris Agreement,’ the Prime Minister said.
‘I can now inform the Danish Government that the work in ratifying the decision to join the Paris Agreement will be submitted to Inatsisartut – the Greenland Parliament.
‘The Arctic region is one of the areas on our planet where the effects of global warming is felt the most, and we believe that we must take responsibility collectively. That means that we too, must contribute our share.’
The government, however, is yet to commit itself to any emissions targets under the agreement, and its decision to join must be ratified by both the Greenlander and Danish parliaments.
The announcement follows a number of moves to make Greenland more green, including the banning of future oil and gas exploration.
The South American nation of Ecuador has pledged to expand its Galapagos marine reserves to around one and a half times its current size.
The country’s president, Guillermo Lasso, said that the reserve, already one of the largest in the world, will be expanded from its current size of 133,000 square kilometres.
At a conference at COP26, he said, ‘I announce the declaration of a new marine reserve in Galapagos. It will be nothing less than 60,000 square kilometers to be added to the existing reserve.’
The Galapagos reserve is home to some of the most biodiverse waters in the world as several currents come together and bring an abundance of nutrients for plankton. In turn, this feeds a range of animals from fish all the way up to whales.
The expansion will take in Cocos Ridge, an undersea area that is a feeding and migration area for endangered species such as the Giant Manta Ray.The move is to be funded by a debt swap, where Ecuador’s debt will betaken on by investors in return for it pledging to protect the waters. It follows a landmark deal in 2016 by the Seychelles, who swapped 5% of its national debt in return for protecting 30% of its national waters.
The Ecuadorean president said it would be ‘the biggest debt swap for conservation that has taken place globally’ but details have not yet been announced.
Countries such as Indonesia have pledged an end to forest exploitation under a declaration announced today.
The country’s president, Joko Widodo, says ‘Indonesia is blessed as the most carbon rich country in the world on vast rainforests, mangroves, oceans and peatlands. We are committed to protecting these critical carbon sinks and our natural capital for future generations.
‘We call on all countries to support sustainable development paths that strengthen the livelihoods of communities – especially Indigenous, women and smallholders.’
A representative of rainforest communities in Africa, Latin America and Indonesia also welcomed the declaration, but wanted to see actions rather than words.
Tuntiak Katan, Coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, said: ‘We welcome the announcement at COP26 of the Joint Statement on Advancing Support for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities that has raised to an unprecedented level their visibility as a climate solution.
‘At the same time, we will be looking for concrete evidence of a transformation in the way funds are invested. If 80 percent of what is proposed is directed to supporting land rights and the proposals of Indigenous and local communities, we will see a dramatic reversal in the current trend that is destroying our natural resources.’
UK PM on pledge to end deforestation
The UK’s Prime Minister has discussed a pledge to end deforestation by 2030 by half the world’s nations.
Boris Johnson took to the stage at the first Action on Forests and Land Use event, saying, ‘Climate change and biodiversity are two sides of the same coin.
‘We can’t deal with the devastating loss of habitat and species without tackling climate change, and we can’t deal with climate change without protecting our natural environment and respecting the rights of Indigenous People who are its stewards.
‘It is the ambition of the UK’s COP presidency that we act now and end humanity’s role as nature’s conqueror and instead become nature’s custodian.
‘We have to stop the devastating loss of our forests. These great teeming ecosystems, these three trillion-pillared cathedrals of nature are the lungs of our planet and their destruction, together with agriculture and other change of land use accounts for almost a quarter of global emissions.
‘Forests support communities, livelihoods and food supply, and absorb the carbon we pump into the atmosphere. They are essential to our very survival. If we want to keep the 1.5⁰C goal of Paris in sight, we must protect and restore the world’s forests.’
Hope is the only thread left with us and let us hope that nations will succeed in their pledges.