COP26 Signals Progress on Climate Policy and Practice

Disparaging press preceded and followed the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, the Glasgow COP26 summit, focused on implementation of the 2015 Paris climate accord. News outlets forecasted an unsuccessful summit and then told us it did not achieve all its aims. However, denigrating the progress made at COP26 was wrong and foolish. Despite the forecasts of failure, much more was achieved than the forecast by the critics, despite the dire press narratives.

Arthur Asa Berger self-caricature

A deal versus no deal was reached, provided a stronger basis for further negotiation, available here: https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/cma2021_L16_adv.pdf

The 1.5C aim of the Paris accord still lives as a target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030. 

It signalled the beginning of the end of coal power.

Coal has been dramatically showcased as a [maybe the] primary mandate for further action. Global public awareness on the centrality of coal to emissions has been made clear.  Despite the negotiated wording of “phase down” rather than “phase out”, I agree with the UK PM Johnson’s view that it marked the “beginning of the end of coal”. As he put it, this was a “decisive shift … Glasgow has sounded the death knell for coal power”. And as the US Climate envoy John Kerry said: “You have to phase down coal before you can end coal.” 

It put China, India, and the USA in the spotlight for further negotiations. India and China for insisting on compromising on coal power, and the USA for being among the three largest contributors to greenhouse gases. 

Other areas of progress included steps to address deforestation, methane, fossil fuels, financing, and zero-emission vehicles. 

The world should congratulate the UK cabinet minister Alok Sharmon, president of the summit, for orchestrating a summit based on multilateralism that brought real progress to negotiations among sovereign nations over halting global warming. That is a major move in the right direction. 

#COP26 #TogetherForOurPlanet

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