In the fight against global warming, the 2015 Cop21 meeting that led to the Paris agreement has become the Cop’s benchmark. Glasgow Cop26 must be an action accelerator.
As French Foreign Minister at the time, I chaired that conference, and I am often asked about the secret of the universal agreement that we achieved there. My answer is that the success in Paris was made possible by a strong process of environmental diplomacy that required the alignment of three “planets”: science, societies and states.
Since then, the “planet of science” has advanced on many fronts. Numerous studies have deepened our knowledge, showing in particular that 1.5 ° C has become the limit that we must not exceed. Technology advances, favoring energy savings and considerably reducing the cost of renewable energy compared to carbon energy. Great innovations are happening.
The “planet of societies” was also up to the task, and faster than we had anticipated in 2015. Non-governmental organizations, cities, regions and universities have taken action. The public has become more aware of the challenge. Young people are showing us the way.
More and more companies are making commitments, for multiple reasons: ethical, economic, financial. However, they do it at different rates. Among the producers of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas,
tThe confusion between “acting green”, “talking green” and “washing green” has yet to be resolved.
However, the “planet of states” is still missing. The Paris agreement clearly states in its Article 4 that each country must present a “contribution determined at the national level”, updated at least every five years. However, as I write these lines, although many countries and the European Union have submitted a national contribution in line with the agreement, some have relapsed and others have simply submitted nothing at all.
Hopefully the G20 in Rome later this month and the Cop26 will lead to further commitments. Donald Trump’s opposition to the treaty, international tensions, the resurgence of nationalism, and intrinsic political difficulties in making important and necessary decisions help explain the shortcomings. But they do not justify them.
Clearly, there is more work to be done. The rise in temperatures from pre-industrial levels, which was supposed to stay well below 2 ° C and, if possible, 1.5 ° C, is currently on track at 2.7 ° C or more. The UN Secretary General rightly called this trajectory “catastrophic.” We already see the disastrous progression of climate collapse into heat waves, mega fires, floods, famines and massive forced human migrations, which sadly often hit the most vulnerable people and territories first. But we are all affected. Not in 10 or 30 years in the future, but now.
In this context, the Glasgow Cop26 opens. To be successful, you must pursue at least four goals, and it is in relation to these goals that we will judge the results.
The first is to adopt the Regulations of the Paris agreement – shared technical guidance that will help countries implement the treaty. Since Katowice Cop24 in 2018, its details have been mired in negotiations. It would be very disappointing if we did not pass a text in Glasgow, or if we agreed on a watered-down one.
The second objective refers to finances. Precise commitments were made in 2009 at Cop15 in Copenhagen. Rich countries pledged to dedicate at least $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to public and private climate finance initiatives in developing countries. To this day, we have not reached it. This limits the development of many countries that lack both finance and technology, particularly in Africa.
It is crucial that Cop26 advance this plan, while increasing the proportion of funds dedicated to adaptation and not just migration. This involves increasing the proportion of grants, rather than loans, and addressing the issue of “loss and damage” to land and resources. More generally, the entire financial and banking system must stop its support for fossil fuels and massively increase spending on green investments.
The third goal is that global climate ambitions will need to be improved and clarified to close the gaps between commitments and action. Not only because of CO2 emissions, but also because of the critical problem of methane gas, a major contributor to the climate emergency, but receiving less attention than CO2. The reduction in methane could be a welcome surprise for Glasgow.
In recent months, several nations have made announcements about carbon neutrality in the mid-21st century – it’s remarkable progress.
Clear indicators and metrics are required to check real-time progress on these engagements, and they must be transparent. States must realize that ambitious long-term announcements do not eliminate the need for verifiable commitments on short- and medium-term goals, that is, actions before 2030. It is unclear whether the required carbon neutrality goal will be achieved through a drastic reduction in fossil fuels. o carbon capture and emissions compensation. Only by clarifying these aspects can we determine whether the long-term paths chosen are appropriate.
Finally, the Glasgow Police are expected to take into account, verify and expand on several important developments that have taken place since the Paris agreement. The fight against climate degradation and the protection of biodiversity are interconnected. We must coordinate actions to address these two challenges with a unified approach. We also know that these questions cannot be handled efficiently if we do not take powerful social justice measures, such as carbon pricing methods, along with supporting the activities, territories and people directly affected.
Cop26 is an occasion to fulfill the commitments of multiple sectors (cement, automobile, construction, agriculture, air transport, maritime transport, etc.) to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Glasgow should show the convergence of all these actions, accompanied by a detailed evaluation of the results.
Respecting these targets is all the more essential in the current period, as energy shortages and rising prices are leading some large CO2 emitters to resort to increasing use of coal. This is also a great challenge for Glasgow.
Six years ago, in my opening statement at Cop21, I said: “I believe in success because we all know that fighting global warming is more than an environmental issue. It is an essential condition to provide everyone with food and water, to save biodiversity and protect health, to combat poverty and mass migration, to discourage war and promote peace, and ultimately to give an opportunity to sustainable development and life.. “
The stakes have not changed; if anything, it is even greater today. We have an immense responsibility to future generations. Climate skepticism has receded. Now, through action and results, we must also address climate fatalism – the belief that it is too late to do anything.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism