Here we are at the beginning of the famous and infamous Cop26, long awaited for two years due to the cancellation of last year’s edition because of the pandemic, and which will be staged in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.
We reiterate that the name COP is an acronym for Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and that 26 is the number of this edition, so there had been another 25 before (the first in Berlin in 1995 ), and some of them particularly relevant, such as that of 2015 which led to the so-called Paris Agreement that set our destination to be global warming at well below 2 degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees.
Apparently not all leaders will be present …
The US President Biden will certainly be present and promote the US emissions targets. But if he manages to keep these promises, well, this is currently a bet that no one wants to participate in. It must be remembered, in fact, that the United States is the main historical emitter in the world and the second current emitter of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
The failed promises of the US could in fact be very dangerous because they would make other leaders more skeptical and less inclined to advance big changes in their own countries.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron will also be present, as well as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, guest of the event together with Queen Elizabeth II.
Among the big absentees at COP26, the Chinese President Xi Jinping is at the top of the list. The presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still uncertain, despite the multiple visits to his country by Biden’s climate envoy John Kerry and Modi’s recent visit to the White House.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who recently visited the White House and pledged to take some sort of further climate action, but who at home has gone in the opposite direction of clean energy, is also unknown, having given the green light for new coal mines.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is expected to attend but via video link, recently spoke of the need for a “planned transition” to clean energy, but from multiple sources they indicate that Russia’s long-term strategy on reducing emissions won’t arrive until 2060.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro could be another absentee at COP26: his country suffers from a devastating drought amidst deforestation peaks linked to government policies and faces corruption investigations.
More defections could come from coronavirus-related travel restrictions with many of the developing countries lacking access to vaccines and being forced to navigate a web of bureaucracy to enter the negotiating rooms.
First of all the COP26 delegates will be aiming to finalise the Paris Rulebook, the rules needed to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, and conclude outstanding issues from COP25 in Madrid.
It is clear to everyone that when there is a will, there is always a way to do things.
In response to the pandemic Western European Countries alone have allocated close to 4 trillion USD, an amount 30 times larger than today’s value of the Marshall Plan.
Even alone, the G7 governments provide 88 billion USD a year in support for fossil fuels.
Climate finance, which aims to allocate 100 billion dollars to support adaptation and mitigation policies in developing countries, is the other major issue that has kept ministers and climate envoys busy at the Pre-COP26 in Milan.
Obviously, both for cutting emissions and for allocating financial resources, the G20 powers are expected to have to do more because they account for 80% of global emissions.
In fact, ‘rich’ countries or the global north, have not only failed to cut their own pollution, but have also failed to help vulnerable countries and people adapt to climate change. These countries must now face up to the environmental, economic, social, cultural impacts of global warming to which we can’t adapt. This is what policy-makers and experts refer to as loss and damage.
Small island nations first raised the alarm back in 1991, but were fobbed off with insurance schemes. Nowadays insurance providers won’t cover you for many of the effects of climate change as they have become too frequent or too certain. So while the UNFCCC has agreed that rich countries should provide climate finance for adaptation and mitigation, vulnerable countries are fighting for support for those recovering from climate disasters and slow-onset impacts.
Here we report more specifically some goals, that in our opinion, we should all expect to be declared collectively from the nations with detailed and scheduled plans.
1. Rich countries pledge net zero 2030 (no more talk of 2050) targets with real plans and fair shares (responsibilities) of the target to stay within 1.5C.
2. Countries adopt the Real Zero technique and stop greenwashing by using Net Zero as a mathematical equation to add business-as-usual practices and then subtract the carbon footprint by planting trees.
3. Rich countries act first and faster than developing countries.
4. Countries stop relying on imaginary technologies that at the moment, don’t have any proof of their efficiency.
5. Rich Countries cancel the debts of the Global South by all creditors.
6. Developed countries write down a clear roadmap on delivering their continued existing obligations to mobilize 100 billion USD per year from 2021 to 2025 by grants and non-debt finance.
7. Countries define a process to measure progress towards the Global Goal on Adaptation and ensure adequate financial and technological support is available.
8. Countries define new systems for energy, agriculture, housing, transport, economy.
9. Rich countries pledge to cease public subsidies for fossil fuels and instead scale up the levels of new and additional public finance in line with the trillions of dollars developing countries need; and this only includes grants, not loans.
10. Rich countries agree to provide additional public finance to support those bearing the brunt of losses and damages from climate breakdown today to help them recover and rebuild their lives; also here, only grants, not loans.
11. Countries abandon the false solution of offsetting and carbon markets and make a serious effort to advance real solutions via non-market cooperative approaches.
Just remember that we have to consider this as a last chance we are giving to governments, so if these points are not getting done, it means that the negotiations are not going in the correct direction and they are just buying time and trust from people, and in that case it will be our duty as well our right to not give them neither time nor trust anymore.
The Human Exploring Society is a proud member of the Cop26 Coalition, an international alliance of NGOs, trade unions, grassroots campaigns, youth groups and environmental networks who will bring to Glasgow the voice from worldwide frontline communities and will report the truth about the negotiations and events of COP26.
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Cover illustration by Carlotta Artioli, aka Charl.art, environmental activist and Italian illustrator who focuses her works on the worldwide need of Climate Justice.
You can appreciate her illustrations on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/charl.art.
This one is called Pretty Protest, seen as a mythological, colorful and musical figure, which contrasts with the political figure of the British Home Secretary Priti Patel who instead wants restrictions on protests and public assemblies.