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Did COP26 actually make any difference? Issue of the year.

SHOULD we still be crying over the Glasgow Climate Pact? Many will remember that Alok Sharma did shed what looked like a tear – perhaps triggered by the 11th hour weakening of the wording around coal pushed for by China and India, or perhaps because he was over-tired. But should we be all weeping that COP26 did not do more to slow the relentless release of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere?

The short answer is we won’t know for some time. It’s not just what happens at a COP that matters, but what happens after in terms of countries honestly delivering on their commitments. Though, as Swedish activist Greta Thunberg might put it, there was a lot of “blah, blah, blah” at COP26, on some counts there was progress.

Like what?

The fact fossil fuels were mentioned at all in the pact, which previously had not been the case. Other positives include the side deal pledging to end deforestation by 2030, and the agreement by 100 countries to slash methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030. The conference also reached a deal that will initiate international carbon markets, and, oh yeah, wealthy nations promised to meet the annual target of supplying $100 billion in climate finance by 2023.

Hang on, weren’t they supposed to do that already?

Ah yes. It might be more accurate to say that the $100bn was kicked down the road. Brownie points, though, to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for making Scotland the first country to commit to loss and damage reparations.

You’re not making me feel much better. I heard Thunberg called it a ‘global north green-wash festival’.

She did. But that doesn’t mean these conferences aren’t making a difference. Before the Paris agreement, the world was heading for 3.7 degrees warming by 2100 – but after, it was reduced to 2.7 degrees, and with this year’s updated targets we’re looking at more like 2.4 degrees.

Hardly a reason to be cheerful: 2.4 degrees is disastrous.

Activist Vanessa Nakate calls it “a death sentence”.

Is that you crying again? What now?

Not just COP26, but other news stories, including reports that the Thwaites ice shelf in Antarctica may collapse within a decade and coal demand could reach all-time highs as soon as 2022…

Any reasons for us to stop crying?

The powerful just transition movement that galvanised in Scotland during COP26?

 

READ MORE: COP26 failed, but it left Scotland with a potent movement

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