‘The danger of global warming is, as yet, unseen, but real enough for us to make changes…’
These words were said 31 years ago in 1990 at the second World Climate Conference in Geneva. The utterer was UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed as the iron lady. ‘Our immediate task,’ she went on to say, ‘is to carry as many countries as possible with us, so that we can negotiate a successful framework convention on climate change in 1992.
As the iron lady proposed, an UN conference known as the Earth Summit was held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro afterwards. The world’s nations agreed to establish a proper seat for common climate action at that conference called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The first COP has been held in Berlin in 1995. Angela Merkel, who was then Germany’s environment minister, chaired the meetings.
New party in town!
Since than, many COPs have been convened. Now, we have COP26 in Glasgow ahead of us. This is to be the most important climate summit since the Paris Agreement (2015) as agreed by the majority.
Why important? Because, unlike Paris, Glasgow isn’t about a treaty. Instead, it’s the showcase for countries to state their individual commitments to the cause.
They all agreed in 2015 to make changes to keep global warming “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels – and to try aim for 1.5C – so that we avoid a climate catastrophe.
Many have acted, but the overall situation remains fairly unimpressive.
Climate Action Tracker, a science-based non-profit organization, tracks government action and measures it against the goals set out in Paris. Only one country, The Gambia, is rated as taking ‘sufficient’ action to meet the 1.5°C aim. Nepal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco are rated as taking ‘almost sufficient’ action.
Surprised of these countries? Well, it is quite obvious. Global north, the developed countries, have the upmost responsibility of triggering the climate crisis. It is essential to have them on board to make very strict commitments on reducing their greenhouse gases. COP26 will hopefully be the place to hear such commitments from each and every country.
There are 4 clear -but- challenging goals of COP26:
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- Mobilize finance: Developed countries to mobilize at least $100bn in climate finance per year.
- Work together to deliver
Paris was the ‘what?’ Glasgow is the ‘how?’
‘Paris was the ‘what?’ We were negotiating the agreement, setting out where we thought warming needed to be limited to. And then Glasgow is really the ‘how?’ It’s a different kind of COP because it’s about ratcheting up our ambition. We should be looking for every G20 country to come with a ratcheted-up plan. And then, given that we probably know that we’re not going to be on course at Glasgow, we need to come back in maybe another two years, not another five years, to say, okay, how can we ratchet up even more?’ Rachel Kyte
We will see if it will be a bad or good COP. But, if the humanity would have taken the matter seriously 30+ years ago, we might not worry this much on the vital problems we’re facing today re: climate and environmental issues.
Time is ticking! So, let’s hope, this won’t be another -bla bla gathering- and fancy climate diplomacy of the countries but instead be a revolutionary step for the future of humanity…