So, COP26 in Glasgow… success or failure on climate change?
Cut away all the faff – like Boris Johnson calling it outstanding, TV journalist Robert Peston (who ought to know better) tweeting ‘amazing’ and others saying it was a complete fiasco – the truth lies somewhere in between.
But, the balance is more towards failure than what the outcomes should have been.
Yes, the Glasgow agreement moves the world on in the right direction. Yes, very few, if any, are talking climate change denial anymore – science has won. Yes, there were one or two very significant measures, like the cuts to methane gas and to stopping deforestation. All positive, to a point.
But, COP26 only just about leaves 1.5 degrees warming on life-support, it still leaves the world currently on a 2.4 degree trajectory, which is disastrous for the planet, and China and India’s late intervention’s on coal meaning the agreement talks of ‘phasing down’ rather than the required ‘phasing out’ was a global kick in the teeth.
The pre-COP vibes were not good and to a certain extent the final agreement is better than expected. But, as Kaleidoscope has said before, Glasgow required something exceptional to turn the climate change tanker around faster and more effectively … and it completely failed on that score.
Action against climate change has been stepped up, nations and its leaders are moving faster towards the light but everything is still too slow, many leaders’ tongues are still forked and the right impetus is still lacking.
There is a lot of sense in a New Statesman article this week which warns of national interests around the world now taking full front stage positions on climate change. Until now, nations might have hidden behind a lack of science or other get-outs as an excuse for doing little or anything at all. But those days have gone, the science and the tone of Glasgow have shot down petty excuses for good.
What COP26 began to see in real terms was nations knowing they have to change fast but now playing real politic on ensuring their country doesn’t lose out as the world goes hard-green.
From now on expect to see the Indias and Brazils, the Chinas and the USAs – and certainly the UKs – play much greater hard-ball on any measure to keep the green cards stacked in their favour.
The race against climate change has now switched from proving the science to full scale national interest.
Yet this is the antithesis of what the world needs. Climate change has no interest in mere nation states. Just like COVID 19, climate change is a global crisis which needs global responses.
What price a world where China or anywhere else is ‘safe’ (although that could never be) and the rest of the world is devastated?
The Glasgow agreement: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2021_L16_adv.pdf