The World at COP26

Tanya Arora

Anticipation to COP26

A lot of anticipation revolved around COP 26 before it even began. A series of anthropogenic natural disasters, the meeting of the G20 leaders, The release of the NDC synthesis report by the UNFCCC, and Instagram posting a reel of environmentalist Mikaela Loach, the co-founder of the ‘Stop Cambo’ campaign targeting fossil fuel companies around the world.

A Failure before it even began?

Environmentalists around the world were nervous and shouldn’t be blamed for being pessimistic. With the energy crisis descending upon the world, countries were back to supporting fossil fuels. Despite declaring to cut down to net-zero by 2060, President Xi-Jinping was a no show at both the G20 Summit and COP26. Despite signing back into the Paris Agreement, President Biden had not been able to put his climate action ambition into reality. Several countries hadn’t submitted their updated NDC’s (India included). Out of the ones that had been updated (117 parties, EU is one party, accounting for 61% emissions), most had either laxed their commitments or hadn’t made any significant changes. The UK government, which we all hoped would lead the change, supported the Cambo Oil Project. Countries such as Brazil and Mexico were twisting words in their NDC’s to allow room for more emissions, and Russia, which had supposedly peaked its emissions back in 1990 (as USSR), was now seeing an increase in its emission rate.

G20 Leaders on Climate Change

Who are the G20 Leaders?

It’s an international group of 20 (19 countries and the EU) of the worlds’ bustling economies, home to two-thirds of the worlds’ population and 75% of the global emissions, and hence crucial in addressing climate change. The group met in Rome on the 30th and 31st of October to discuss their stand on pressing global challenges, one of them being Climate action.

Their stand on Climate Action?

The G20 leaders remain committed to the Paris Agreement goal to hold the average global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius and further pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Several pledges were made, such as halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, combating illegal environmental crimes, creating new carbon sinks, and involving the people, organisations etc., to help minimise emissions and adopt circular economies.

Towards a future, we aspire for

To keep the world leaders from giving a death sentence to the climate change front liners, we need to keep the possibility of a 1.5-degree world alive.

  1. Global Methane Pledge:

100 countries committed to the pledge to reduce their methane emissions by 30% by 2030, relative to 2018 levels. Except for some countries, including the largest emitters include Russia, China, and Iran.

  1. End Deforestation Pact: 

100 Countries, including large deforesters (accounting for 85% of the worlds’ forests), signed the declaration to end deforestation by 2030.

  1. New Policy Action Agenda:

45 Nations sign to help deliver necessary changes to agriculture.

  1. Global Coal to Clean Power Transition:

40 countries and organisations committed to ending all investment into new coal power generation domestically and internationally—signatories from developed (2030 phase-out), developing (2040 phase-out). Exceptions included Indonesia, which pledged to build some new power plants before stopping completely, Poland that planned to adhere to this only after 2049, and China and India, who despite being the biggest coal producers, didn’t support the pledge.

  1. Zero-emission vehicles

30 nations, 11 car manufacturers and tens of organisations signed a declaration to work together for sales of all zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

  1. Net Zero Financial Alliance

GFANZ (Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero) will hold the financial community accountable in addressing climate change. It’s expected that the 450 institutions worldwide would align their 130 trillion dollars worth of assets with Net Zero commitments.

  1. Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance by Denmark and Costa Rica 

To serve as a sign for the beginning of the end of oil and natural gas. Costa Rica, despite harbouring oil reserves, has never exploited them because it strongly believes there’s no place for fossil fuels in a 1.5-degree world. It wishes that other countries too would follow suit.

  1. India and UK global solar grid

India is leading a mega initiative known as the Green Grids Initiative-One Sun One World One Grid. The initiative proposed by Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi, is designed to harness the power of the Sun, following the ideology that the Sun is always shining somewhere.

Havoc doesn’t strike alike

In our avarice for wealth and living standards, all of us were choosing to stay ignorant and failing to realise that if we continue to live the way we are presently, the ticking clock of doomsday will be upon us. We are in a delicate position; the developed countries have moved far ahead and secured a future for themselves at the expense of the underdeveloped and developing nations. Meanwhile, the indigenous communities comprising only 5% of the worlds’ population are currently protecting more than 80% of its biodiversity. The irony of it all is that countries accounting for negligible emissions, such as the islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific, were facing the brunt of climate change. 

Natural disasters are rising midst the homes of these front liners and wrecking them too. Kalahari Deserts’ rising temperatures are disrupting the survival of the people by impacting their traditional farming practices. A spike in the temperature of the Himalayas resulting in glacial melts has inflicted problems over the rural dwellers (floods in the short-term and possible droughts in the long term). Due to changing species availability and weather conditions, indigenous people in the arctic region have seriously impacted their health and food security. Native tribes of Amazon, which have been protecting nature for centuries, are being rendered homeless.

There are others whose cities have sunk or dried entirely, those who do not have access to food and are fatigued by the surging temperatures. Most of them do not have the resources to leave their forgotten homes and build new ones; these individuals who have been displaced as a result of global warming have been termed climate refugees. India in 2019 had the most displacements, followed by the Philippines, Bangladesh, China, and the USA.

Hollow Promises will not reduce CO2

Truth be told, the end of COP26 didn’t bring confidence amongst the terrorised and angry minds of the youth and climate change front liners. Why? Because Climate Justice wasn’t served, despite the countries pledging to promises no action plans were created, and we no longer believe in promises that aren’t adhered to despite being made repeatedly. In the words of Greta Thunberg, COP26 was a PR event involving a lot of greenwashing, blah blah blah, and a place where just like the past 25 COPs, no visible action was taken. 

Let’s just take one such example, Prime minister Narendra Modi, during his speech (at the World Leaders’ Summit) affirmed Indias’ efforts in combating climate change. Made promises including, India becoming net-zero by 2070, reaching non-fossil energy capacity to 500GW (by 2030), meeting 50% of energy requirements (by 2030), and even reducing its carbon emissions by 1 billion tonnes. 

However, on the 13th of November, as the congregation neared its end, despite the prime minister’s woes of prioritising humanity, India requested the dilution of the terms, ‘from phasing out of coal’ to ‘phasing down of coal’. It might be easy to blame India alone for this, but the root of the problem is that emerging economies like India haven’t been provided a safety net (climate finance and technology transfer) to fall back on, in case we actually do phase out coal. Despite the global north leaders giving their word on securing 100 bd of funds by 2020 according to the Paris Agreement, they have yet again postponed the date to 2023. This is just one such display of greenwashing beginning to fail the people, not only of India but of the entire world. Because in the words of the Prime Minister of Barbados, 1.5 is a fighting chance, and 2 degrees is a death sentence. But let’s hope and pray as Vanessa Nakate that our leaders prove us wrong and stick by their words this one time.


Leave a Reply