COP 26: Since Paris Agreement, ‘No Progress Has Been Made’

by | Nov 17, 2021 | News

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) concluded November 12, with disappointing outcomes from many perspectives of the climate emergency. As the summit ran late on its final day, and as delegates shaped their statements for all 197 countries to agree on, a group of over 200 international scientists issued a grave warning.

“We, climate scientists, stress that immediate, strong, rapid, sustained and large-scale actions are necessary to hold global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” they wrote in a November 11 letter to the conference.

Sonia Seniveratne, climate researcher and lead author of the latest climate science report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emphasized the lethargic pace of action from world leaders.

“This is one of the last opportunities to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” she said. Since the countries of the world agreed to that target in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, she said, “no progress has really been made. When you look at the declarations from the COPs since then, they are inconsistent with the science.”

Until the end of the conference, it appeared the countries could have fulfilled COP26 president Alok Sharma’s goal to “consign coal to history.” But in the 11th hour, India successfully motioned to weaken the summit’s pledge from “phase out” to merely “phase down” coal.

Mother Jones writes, “It’s impossible to be happy about COP26’s outcome — virtually every country said the Glasgow Climate Pact was less than what it wanted, and island nations in particular were furious over India’s last-second intervention — but the pact was not an irredeemable failure. Sharma’s claim that COP26 had ‘kept 1.5 alive’ is plausible, if barely.”

The pact resulting from this summit obliges governments to come back next year to try again, with stronger action plans. Also, contrary to widespread belief, there is far less additional temperature rise irrevocably “baked in” to the climate system than the three to four decades that was previously believed. This means aggressive emissions cuts can still make a big difference.

But following the summit, the world is still set to increase in warming about 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit, according to  several analyses by outside organizations that use climate modeling to track the effects of climate policy changes showed. This warming is well above the limit set by the 2015 Paris agreement pact of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The most recent  climate science assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change spelled out how devastating those 4.5 degrees of warming would be, including heatwaves that will kill crops and intensify rainstorms and floods.

Columbia Journalism Review warned that COP26, for many news consumers, has faded into “just another block on a homepage,” or another cable news segment; there is an urgency gap between reporters at the summit and the public. Local media might help:

“As much research has suggested, local media has significantly higher rates of trust with news consumers than national media. Local news coverage of events like the COP summit — and the agreements they produce — provides opportunities to bring the urgency home.”

This will be a necessary step for climate action, as both the public and world leaders remain alarmingly unconcerned about the greatest existential threat to the planet.

 

 

Image by Ben Stansall / AFP via Getty Images

More from The Edge

From Enforced Hijabs to Enforced Pregnancies

Seeing and Looking and Thinking Anew We — the inclusive we — need to see this newest devastating crisis of democracy in the U.S. with renewed urgency because it has too long a history. Look at what is happening to Iranian women (and Saudi, and Indian, and Afghan) and...

November Elections Spur Urgent Calls for Pro-Democracy Coverage

As the 2022 midterm elections approach in November, mainstream media have been covering the leadup to the vote with usual commitment to framing Republicans and Democrats equally, even as a subset of Republicans attack the integrity of elections to gain power. This...

The Continuing Trouble and Tragedy within ‘Death of a Salesman’

It is clear that the way people react to Arthur Miller’s 1949 play “Death of a Salesman” is as unpredictable as the play itself. Sympathies are pulled in every direction. With the play currently revived for the sixth time on Broadway, let us take a moment to think...

You Cannot Silence Us: Exiled Writers Speak At Ithaca College

On September 22, the Park Center for Independent Media hosted a discussion with dissident writers who were forced from their homelands and found sanctuary through a City of Asylum in Ithaca, Pittsburgh, or Detroit. The event, which was attended by nearly 70 Ithaca...

Upending Arthur Miller: A Clarion Call to Our Cultural Emergency

There’s so much I could say about Claire Gleitman the woman, the colleague, the director, and the Dean, as she has been invaluable to my career and my happiness in this job. Her friendship has been an unwavering goodness in my life. But tonight, it is Claire’s...

Queen Elizabeth’s Funeral: When Bravery Gets Old

Social media has been rife with criticism of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, even from those members of the public who loved her. It represents money wasted in a nation facing financial crisis, the denial of British colonialism and slavery that the royal family has never...

Southwest ‘Megadrought’: Heat and Dryness Worst in 1,200 Years

In 1988, NASA climatologist James Hansen testified before Congress about a warming planet during a summer of unprecedented heatwaves and drought in 40 states. His historic wakeup call failed to galvanize economic systems and government to take preventive action. Now,...

PCIM Publishes Archives from the Los Angeles Vanguard

View the full Vanguard Archive here. “The Vanguard is more than a newspaper, it is an organizing tool for community groups and individuals to fight back through citizen action. FIGHT BACK will be a regular feature of such efforts.” The mission statement published in...