COP26 – a last chance for the planet


The November meeting in Glasgow must, in the words of a recent report from developing countries that constitute over half the nations of the world, ‘be a summit of delivery [because] morally and practically, there can be no successful outcome at COP26 that does not deliver for the most vulnerable across the full range of issues. This is the last chance for rich countries to deliver the promised ‘solidarity package’. If this plan fails, COP26 fails’

The report identifies five areas in which all governments, ‘especially those of nations that became prosperous through the untrammeled burning of fossil fuels’ , need to deliver:

Emissions: Cut emissions to levels consistent with keeping warming under 1.5oC, led by nations with the biggest responsibility and capacity. Halve global CO2 emissions by 2030.

Adaptation: Accelerate financial support to vulnerable countries to adapt to climate impacts. Ensure adaptation receives at least 50% of financial aid.

Loss and damage: Provide financial support to help developing nations deal with the loss and damage caused by the impacts of climate change – which have resulted from the developed world’s historical failure to cut their emissions.

Finance: Deliver the promised but so far unforthcoming US$100bn per year climate financial pledge made by developed nations at the Copenhagen and Paris COPs.

Implementation: Finalise the rulebook for implementing the Paris Agreement regarding transparency, carbon trading and common five-year timeframes for accelerating action. Done in a way that safeguards development and nature.

All actions to be underpinned by solidarity, fairness and prosperity.

The report includes a message for Australia: ‘Fair shares accounting shows that in order to take adequate responsibility for creating the climate crisis, Australia should reduce its emissions by at least 65-80% below 2005 levels by 2030 and provide at least $2.5bn (AUS$3.2bn) annually.’

Below are some quotes from the speech given by John Kerry, President Biden’s Special Envoy for Climate, in London on July 20

Nostalgia for what our parents’ generation accomplished is no antidote to [our children’s] anxiety and even anger at what our generation has so far failed to do. We adults who have a vote in legislatures or elections and multilateral institutions, seats in the Situation Room and the boardrooms — we must provide answers that are tangible – not theoretical. And above all, we need to provide action and action now. Because time is running out.

We really must focus on capping warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius. Much more warming than that, and life on our planet will become increasingly unrecognizable. That prospect of an unlivable tomorrow should be as alarming as it is sobering as we take stock of the world we are living in today.

It’s a world where whole countries would be destabilized from stalled economic growth, hunger and starvation, escalating conflict over resources, and people would be forced to abandon their homes. It’s also a world in which we ultimately spend so much money and effort just coping with disasters that we no longer invest in tomorrow. It undermines everything we have been fighting for. And no country, rich or poor, will be spared. We have a narrow window to avoid that future.

Simply put: the world needs to cut emissions by at least 45% by 2030 to be on a credible path to net zero by midcentury. That’s what the IPCC showed us. 45% – and not just in some countries or some regions, but the world. They found that 45% is the minimum the world must reduce.

That makes this a decisive decade. And it makes 2021 a decisive year. And most of all, it must make COP 26 in Glasgow this year a pivotal moment for the world to come together to meet and master the climate challenge.

How alarming it is that as we race to Glasgow, some countries are currently still building new, carbon-polluting coal plants, clear-cutting more trees and continuing to illegally cut down the rainforest. They’re removing the lungs of the world, destroying irreplaceable biodiversity, and destabilizing the climate – all at the same time.

At or before COP26, we need to see the major economies put forward – not just ambitious 2030 targets, but clear plans for how they will get there over the next decade. By 2023, we need those same economies to put out road maps for how they will achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Commitments must be backed by concrete national action plans, policies, and measures.

We can – and must – achieve this together – especially knowing the triumph or tragedy of the two alternative worlds that await our choices. I believe we will get to the low carbon economy we urgently need. But without greater urgency and effort, it is not clear we will get there in time.’