The great hype that was COP26 in Glasgow has passed with a whimper of diluted agreements and lowest denominator promises, says Troy Da Costa from Wanstead Climate Action
COP26’s lofty aim of ‘uniting the world to tackle climate change’ was reduced to a “pathetic limp rag of a document,” as described by prominent environmental writer and activist George Monbiot.
What was billed as humanity’s last chance to limit global warming to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial temperatures by 2050 got off to a poor start. A leaked document exposed lobbying by Saudi Arabia, Japan and Australia to play down the need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels as stated in the UN’s IPCC Climate Change Report 2021. World leaders from China, Brazil and Russia were a no-show, and as if to prove the hypocrisy beyond doubt, many who made the trip did so by private jet.
The IPCC report outlines the facts, stating in categorical terms: “Observed warming is driven by emissions from human activities,” the majority of which come from extracting and burning fossil fuels. It further outlays the current observable effects of global warming and uses models to predict a grim reality the world will face at just 2.5ºC hotter.
Regardless of this stark warning by the scientific community, industry and world leaders have decided against the health of the planet, choosing instead to pander to the almighty economy.
On the streets of Glasgow, Wanstead Climate Action and thousands of other protesters marched to put pressure on proceedings. For us the vision is clear: continued life on Earth requires a radical change in human behaviour. The bottom line is there is no profit in change, but not to do so will cost us everything.
Targets set by the Paris Agreement in 2015 were never met and agreements at COP26 have no basis in law, meaning they can be changed, forgotten and ignored without consequence. The hypocrisy continues as Alok Sharma wags an accusatory finger at India and China for watering down the already weak agreement to stop using coal to generate electricity by 2040 while standing only a few miles from where a new coal mine has been approved in Cumbria.
What has been agreed? A worldwide carbon tax on the worst polluters? An immediate halt on burning fossil fuels? An international fund to be allocated to the worst affected communities? A statute on which Jonas’ brother is the cutest? None of the above. The fossil fuel industry sent the biggest delegation and came out the biggest winners.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said about the approved texts from COP26: “Collective political will was not enough to overcome some deep contradiction…Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe.”
For more information on Wanstead Climate Action, visit wnstd.com/climate