Glasgow: the last chance to save the planet

The world has a last chance to avoid climate catastrophe and this is the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26). Between October 31 and November 12, governments around the world will discuss how to stop the advance of the climate crisis. Discussions will focus on three pillars: prevent the rise in temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees on average, devise stronger climate policies and draw the roadmap to end fossil fuels. The challenge, once again, will be how to move from theory to practice. From promises to covenants.

The premise with which the Glasgow Climate Summit begins is that, according to countless scientific reports, “so far not enough has been done“. Not even the Paris Agreement, the largest climate commitment signed to date, has managed to ward off a future of extreme global warming. According to a recent report by the United Nations Environment Program, the Emissions of greenhouse gases they should drop 55% by 2030 to prevent the planet from warming above 1.5 degrees. But the agreements signed to date only contemplate a reduction of 7.5%, which would lead to a global rise in temperatures of almost three degrees by 2100.

The thermometer of the end of the century will mark the negotiations of a Climate Summit that, after a year of hiatus due to the covid-19 pandemic, should put the urgency of the climate crisis back on the table. “The objective is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. But be careful, this does not mean that the increase of 1.5 is our goal; it is the maximum ceiling to which we can allow ourselves to arrive if we want to avoid the climatic catastrophe “, summarizes Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and current spokesperson for the Global Optimism platform.

Less promises, more ambition

The great challenge of COP26 will be to find more ambitious, stronger and immediately applicable climate policies, as claimed by scientific and environmental organizations around the world. According to the agreements signed to date, the European Union and 50 countries more have already committed to achieving “zero emissions” in the coming decades. Although, according to experts, “the roadmap to achieve emissions neutrality still very ambiguous“It is also worrisome that countries such as Australia, Russia or China (which stand out among the great polluters of the globe) move away from the horizon of cero emissions beyond 2050It is not clear whether by then we will still have time to avoid the devastating consequences of the climate crisis.

“At this Summit the credibility of political leaders around the world is at stake. We cannot allow this meeting to end, once again, with a declaration of intent and without concrete agreements. Glasgow has to become a turning point, “he argues. Farhana Yamin |, vice president of the Forum for Climate Vulnerable People. “How many promises and commitments have been broken so far? It is not good news to see that, year after year, the climate pacts are not fulfilled and nobody does anything about it“says the climate activist on the eve of the start of the Glasgow Climate Summit.

In the next two weeks, the Scottish city will become the showcase for a key debate for the future of the planet. The meeting plans to bring together more than 20,000 people around the globe; from heads of state and ministers to scientists, activists and observers. Everything indicates that this year’s negotiations will be especially thorny given the escalation of tensions between the richest (and most polluting) powers in the world. “Honesty, clarity and seriousness they have to be the ingredients of the COP26 negotiations. People are tired of plans that are not fulfilled. This meeting has to mark a change, “he says. Laurence Tubiana, General Director of the European Climate Foundation.

Geopolitics behind the debate

The most contentious issues that, today, are on the debate table have more to do with geopolitics than with the environmental struggle. There is concern, for example, that plans to end the consumption of fossil fuels collide with the tensions of a world that, in full energy crisis, has returned to pull coal, oil and gas. According to a recent United Nations report, if we continue to produce and consume as we have done before, in 2030 we will have 240% more coal, 57% more oil and 71% more gas than is necessary to curb extreme global warming. The scientific community, in fact, argues that the only long-term sustainable path is eliminate (and not reduce) the consumption of these pollutants.

The debate is also expected to ignite as soon as it comes to addressing the unfulfilled promise of $ 100 billion. Twelve years after the richest countries on the planet (responsible for up to 75% of greenhouse gas emissions) committed to help the global south to cope with this crisis, the funding target has not yet been met. This lack of resources means that the climate crisis puts the poorest regions of the planet in check. According to countless reports, at this time the low-income countries do not have funds enough to, for example, rebuild after the impact of an extreme weather event or prepare to survive an extensive drought.

We are still on time

The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides two key data to understand the urgency of this crisis. The first is that even if greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuels plummeted right now, the climate crisis would continue to rage for decades. The planet would need between 20 and 30 years to stabilize its atmosphere (and slow the rise of thermometers). The second key piece of information is that, if we want to prevent the temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees on average, the carbon dioxide emissions they have to hit the ceiling in 2025 and reach zero before the decade of the 70. The ‘deadline’, then, is much closer than what was expected until now.

The good news, experts argue, is that we still have time to reach these goals and thus avoid the extreme increase in temperatures. Yes indeed. You have to start now. Glasgow has to become the beginning of the end for the climate crisis. This is the last call to save the planet.

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Access all EL PERIÓDICO articles on the Glasgow Climate Summit

The world has one last chance to avoid climate catastrophe and this is the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26). Between October 31 and November 12, governments around the world will discuss how to stop the advance of the climate crisis. Here you can find all EL PERIÓDICO articles about COP26

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