The Importance and Disappointments of COP26 Climate Summit
The Economist: former summits regarding the reduction of carbon emission have been fruitful, but is it enough?
A report made by The Economist states that only one conference for the countries that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been skipped since 1995; that one time was when the pandemic struck in 2020.
The report adds that action plans, mandates, protocols, platforms, contentious breakdowns, and agreements have been produced by these summits. Despite the hope put on these summits, greenhouse emissions' presence in the atmosphere continues to rise.
On one hand, the report says that it would be a mistake to dismiss the whole summit affair, since "the UNFCCC and its COPs, for all their flaws, play a crucial part in a process that is historic and vital: the removal of the fundamental limit on human flourishing imposed by dependence on fossil fuels."
For instance, "the agreement in Paris committed all parties, rich and poor, to keep the rise in Earth’s temperature since the mid-19th century well below 2°C," the report noted, adding that the COP in Glasgow will bring more pledges.
The only way to keep growing is by leaving fossil fuels behind
The report explains that growing economies will have to adapt to the mounting costs of global warming, which will eventually stall their development as major costs will have to be paid to compensate for the damage caused by "floods, storms, heatwaves, and droughts." In the long run, therefore, the only way to keep growing is by leaving fossil fuels behind, the report concludes.
India has been vocal about the inequity of the distribution and has so far refused to embrace carbon neutrality. It says that those with more responsibility for past emissions should do more. The report then concludes that the global institutions set up to equally distribute costs across countries are ineffective and subject to procedures based on consensus and unanimity, which hinders solid actions.
Funding for developing-country decarbonization is crucial
The report continues by stressing how critical it is to commit to a significant and rapid reduction in methane emissions, citing various steps such as more funding for developing-country decarbonization, where government investment can reduce risks to the private sector. Additionally, innovators should be rewarded in a variety of ways, and the 45q tax incentives for carbon capture in the United States could be replicated in Europe.
Investment in fossil fuels has declined at a quicker rate than replacements have come online, exacerbating recent price increases which are damaging due to their speed, the report noted.
The report finishes by stating that the climate crisis is caused by uncontrollable change; yet, by responding to it, the world can become a place where everyone can succeed in the long run.