Hype Accompanying Climate Conference
Tremendous hype accompanies the UN Climate Summits with the present one billed “as a potential turning point in the struggle to avert the worst effects of climate change.”
One news agency describes it as a “multi-ring circus.” “In the innermost ring, blue-badged diplomats from almost 200 countries will debate the wording of a statement that’s released at the meeting’s conclusion, which contains any actual decisions. Other venues in Glasgow will be flooded by celebrities, industry groups, climate activists and academic researchers, all with their own priorities. Protests are expected. It will be like a session of Congress, a trade show and a political demonstration all rolled into one.”
This sets the tone for not discussing anything seriously. We are told:
“There’s one main goal: get closer to fulfilling promises that nations made six years ago at COP21 in Paris. Under the Paris Agreement, countries pledged to collectively cut their greenhouse emissions enough to keep the planet from heating up more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with pre-industrial times. Wealthy countries also promised large amounts of aid to poorer nations to help them cope with climate change and to reduce their own greenhouse emissions.”
About what is done to implement those promises, we are told:
“Progress toward those goals has been halting at best. But pressure is growing for bolder action because scientists say that planetary warming is accelerating, leading to more frequent and intense heat waves and storms and destruction of ecosystems. The planet already has warmed by about one degree Celsius. Keeping warming below 1.5 degrees C will require quick, drastic cuts in global greenhouse emissions, bringing them practically to zero within about 30 years.”
“This is arguably the most important COP since 2015” says Christiana Figueres who was the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2010-2016.  “We’re going to [go] around the table, we’re going to be transparent with each other. We’re going to say what we did. And above all, what more we are going to do.”
“People want to be seen to be doing the right thing,” says Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
In other words, COP26 will generate more hot air.
According to the nonprofit Climate Action Tracker, major polluting countries have submitted plans that are either “critically insufficient” or “highly insufficient.”
The U.S. this year promised to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half (compared with 2005 levels) by 2030 and to deliver $10 billion a year in climate-focused economic aid to lower-income countries. Congress has not passed legislation, such as a proposed Clean Electricity Performance Program, that would accomplish this, “and it’s increasingly looking as if that won’t happen,” National Public Radio (NPR) in the U.S. reported.
NPR continues that nations also have not delivered on their promises regarding ‘climate finance’ — commitments for $100 billion a year which poor countries say is not only unmet but woefully inadequate. “Developing nations emit small quantities of heat-trapping pollution but still suffer from its effects and have fewer resources available to cope with it.
“According to the latest estimate from the International Energy Agency, if all countries fully carry out their current climate pledges, the global curve of greenhouse emissions eventually will start to bend downward. Under this scenario, average global temperatures would increase by 3.7 degrees Fahrenheit compared with pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. (Those average temperatures have already risen by about two degrees Fahrenheit.)”
In addition, negotiators will be trying to work out final details of what’s called “The Paris Rule Book.” These include rules for how countries shall report their emissions targets and how a system of “carbon markets” might work, in which one country can effectively purchase emissions reductions from another country.
All of it shows that safeguarding the natural environment and averting climate disasters will be up to the people taking matters into their own hands as concerns making way for renewal of the decision-making process at every level. Those who represent the people’s interests are left outside the decision-making which takes place at COP26, as seen in their posters and the claims they are making on behalf of the natural and social environment.
1. Assuming responsibility for the international climate change negotiations after the failed Copenhagen conference of 2009, Christiana Figueres was determined to lead the process to a universally agreed regulatory framework. Building toward that goal, she directed the successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014, and culminated her efforts in the historical Paris Agreement of 2015. Throughout her tenure Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the unprecedented climate change agreement. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.