The world has about eight years to start reversing decades of emissions. (Getty Images)
The world has about eight years to start reversing decades of emissions. (Getty Images)

The BulletinNovember 5, 2021

‘Our last, best hope’ at Cop26

The world has about eight years to start reversing decades of emissions. (Getty Images)
The world has about eight years to start reversing decades of emissions. (Getty Images)

A look at the flurry of announcements and promises made at the Glasgow climate summit this week, Justin Giovannetti writes in The Bulletin.

The last best hope to halt climate change. Six years after a global breakthrough at the Paris climate summit, most of the world’s leaders are in Glasgow this week to try to finish the job. The pledges made by nearly all the world’s countries in 2015 to cut greenhouse gases were an unprecedented commitment, but they weren’t enough. That’s the pressure at Glasgow and Cop26, an attempt to complete the negotiations, increase previous targets and turn vague promises into binding actions to stop the world’s seas from rising. The early returns are cautiously promising, as Reuters reports, most of the world’s economies have joined calls to slash methane emissions (including New Zealand) and halt deforestation by the end of the decade.

The target is still 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen in a number of countries over the past decade, but the world still isn’t on course for a cut to 1.5 degrees Celsius. According to The Guardian, emissions are now shooting up as Covid-19 lockdowns ease and emissions are expected to hit a record next year. Calling it a “reality check”, models show the world is on course to hit the level of emissions within 11 years for 1.5 degrees of warming. The summit’s president, Alok Sharma, called it the world’s “last, best hope to keep 1.5 degrees in reach”.

There are positives. India has now pledged to hit net zero emissions by 2070 and experts say it could mark a substantial shift in projected levels of global emissions. Others have called the target lacklustre and not aggressive enough from the world’s third largest emitter. China’s goal is for carbon neutrality by 2060, but president Xi Jinping has been criticised for skipping Glasgow. China is by far the world’s largest emitter and growing fast.

There’s a lot going on at the climate summit. As Rod Oram writes for Newsroom, the climate pledges are coming in fast but contentious issues remain to be solved over another week of negotiation. Along with methane and forestry, there have been promises on low-emissions steel, hydrogen, agriculture and roading. Over 40 countries have promised to quit coal. Trillions of dollars have been pledged to move the world to net zero emissions in the coming decades. New Zealand’s climate change minister, James Shaw isn’t at the summit yet but will be there for the final week. Most of the world’s leaders have now left, ending some of the drama on the sidelines. Now the hard stuff really starts – not the big splashy promises, but the small details on how they’ll happen.

Cop26 runs through to November 12.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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