Loads of the conversations around sustainable living make us think that the small actions we can take in our lives, or at home, is all that is needed to prevent climate change. Or that climate change is our fault, me and you, as individuals.
And, to some extent, it is our fault. We consume, we burn fossil fuels in our homes and in our cars, we choose to travel…. but when it comes down to it, we don’t really have many options, we live in a system that has relied on fossil fuels for decades, a system that has been built on coal, then oil and now gas, we live in a system where governments subsidise environmental disaster and make decarbonisation more difficult, a system where we are advertised at, coerced, influenced, pushed into consuming more and more, a system where high emissions lives are the norm.
So, as well as thinking about the things we can control, the choices we can make, today, what else could we do to really impact the system?
The 26th conference of the parties is a global united nations summit for 12 days this November, the summit is specifically about climate change, its impacts, its relevance and how countries plan to tackle it.
A CoP happens every year, the last event was in Madrid 2019 because this event was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, a host country gets to set the tone for the negotiations, someone from that country is the CoP president, for us it is business secretary Alok Sharma, but world leaders from all around the planet are likely to be present, or contribute.
You may have heard of the Paris agreement, this was one of the most significant CoPs because 195 countries agreed to make significant reductions in their emissions in an attempt to keep global temperatures well below 2 degrees of warming, and, maybe even more importantly, attempt to limit warming to less than 1.5 degrees. It became almost notorious because of American politicians blaming it for a wide range of woes. Less said about that the better.
The reality of the Paris agreement was that, although it was a significant step forward, added together, the pledges countries made weren’t enough to avoid catastrophic climate change. In fact, it is thought that if you add up all the pledges, the reduction in emissions would only be 1% by 2030 (even though the UN is calling for a 45% reduction by 2030 to keep global heating to below 1.5 degrees). It was a start, but needs a significant update.
Since the Paris agreement Countries like the UK has set the date of 2050 to be net zero and almost 70% reduction by 2030, the EU has done something similar with a 55% reduction by 2030, and importantly, last year China pledged to be net zero before 2060. These are major steps forward that will significantly improve the outcome in Glasgow.
One important part of the paris agreement stated that every 5 years, member countries would review what they call their ‘nationally determined contributions’ to see if they could do more, these are voluntary contributions about emisisons reduction and climate finance. COP 26 happens to be 5 years after the Paris Agreement was signed. Countries will be bringing their proposals for discussion, some will be much more ambitious than others, many will be trying to get something out of countries in return.
This will be the first CoP since the global pandemic, you can imagine therefore that, as countries look to restart their economies the pledges made at these negotiations could make or break a countires welfare. Pope Francis has warned that it would be “a scandal” if the money governments are spending to rebuild economies and save businesses “were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation”.
So, I hope you agree that the 26th conference of the parties is relevant to all of us, the outcomes of this set of meetings, these negotiations could have an impact on the planet for centuries. With bold decision making we could see significant progress. We could see a planet acting in solidarity, united against a common foe, working to transform the lives of billions of people. The prize is massive.
You can imagine therefore how important clear leadership will be in November and in the run up to November. But, the negotiations themselves can appear lofty, irrelevant, or out of reach for you and me.
Even though it is lofty, the decisions made by our elected offiials, the promises made, the pledges made, and the tone set could have a multiplier effect on the outcome of the event. If our government decide to take the chance then they have an opportunity to go down in history as Great leaders representing Great Britiain. Fortunately, every single one of us has an elected member of parliament that represents us, who can lobby, cajol, question and influence those in charge.
So I have a message for your MP that I would love you to send them. Please go onto theyworkforyou.com, put your post code in, find out who your MP is, click on ‘send a message’, and write a message for your MP. Ask them to push government for significant contributions to COP 26. They will either read the message themselves or have a team that will read the message as well as respond in some way.
Imagine if our government was able to lead a CoP that was even more significant than Paris, if in glasgow our government was able to bring the world together under a shared purpose, able to commit to lead in emissions reduction.
If paris was the first step, imagine if glasgow was where the worl burst into a run.
So, message your MP, thank them for all ther do, encourage them to call for meaningful action in glasgow and tag them in this video….