Introducing COP26: the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties.
What is its purpose?
“Uniting the world to tackle climate change”
Why? The trajectory of rising global temperatures threatens the health and well being of all living beings on earth. The speed of change is such that most life forms will not be able to evolve fast enough to avoid extinction. The primary cause of these global temperature rises is human activity.
These climate change conferences have been taking place annually since the first in Berlin in 1995. Parties have been working on strategies and agreements to enable world communities to work together to limit the impact of this crisis.
COP3 produced the Kyoto protocol agreeing legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 6-8% below 1990 levels by 2012. This was not fully implemented.
COP17 held in Durban began negotiating a legally binding deal to keep global warming to within a 2C rise compared with pre industrial levels.
COP21 produced the Paris agreement requiring individual countries to produce their own plans (NDC – nationally determined contributions) to mitigate the impacts of global warming and to keep global temperature below a 1.5C rise by 2050 – and at least 45% of these reductions of be achieved by 2030.
Are we on target as we approach COP26 this November? (Deferred from its original date in 2020 because of Covid). No. The UN Emissions Gap Report 2019 notes an ongoing annual 1.5% increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the last decade. Global emissions for 2018 reached 55.3 giga-tons. To keep global temperature increases within 1.5C, GHG need to be reduced to 32 Gt.
The World Meteorological Organisation has reported global average temperature rises of 1.1C since the preindustrial age, and of 0.2C for the period 2015-19 above that for 2011-15.
What then are the stated goals of COP26?
- Finalise the Paris Rulebook and ensuring transparency
- Require all finance, public and private to support the global economy transition to net zero
- Protect communities and natural habitats
- Keep global temperatures increases within the 1.5C target and keep on target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050
What role can we play?
- Adopting sustainable life styles
- Using our purchasing power to change business practices
- Campaigning to ensure governments and other authorities know what we actual want
- Supporting others throughout the world to make changes too
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? (Romans 8:24) I cannot see how all the nations, and interested parties will at COP26 make the corporate and individual changes needed to avert the escalation of our climate crisis. Yet I have hope that things will right, and hope is a powerful thing, especially if it shared with others.
‘Hope is Power’ became the new (2019) campaign logo for the Guardian newspaper.