Today is the last (official) day of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow. After two weeks of intense talks, protests, and some scandals, the world is awaiting an answer. Are we going to be saved, or will we drown in rising ocean waters?
Read this newsletter to learn more about the final stretch of the negotiations, what's likely to happen, and about my own dreadful experience at COP (yes, Colombe and I recorded a vlog in Glasgow!)
FOR STARTERS: WHAT'S COP26?
COP26 is - well - the 26th conference organized in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), serving as the formal meeting of the UNFCCC Parties (Conference of the Parties, COP) to assess progress in dealing with climate change.
It all started in 1995 in Berlin, and since then, the conference has been the focal moment of global negotiations to fight climate change. Did it work? In 1995, the CO2 parts per million in the atmosphere were 360; today, we are at 414 and on track to have a 2.7°C increase in global temperatures compared to pre-industrial levels. So, in short: no.
SO WHAT HAS BEEN AGREED AT COP26 SO FAR
Early drafts of the final agreement show that while the conference has brought progress on certain areas, so far it has not been successful from many points of view. In the days before the convention, many world leaders mentioned how this was the last chance to limit global warming to 1.5° above industrial levels (the threshold above which the likelihood of natural disasters and irreversible consequences increase dramatically); if they were right, then we are fu***d. “Despite the promises made at COP26 so far, the planet is still heading for 2.4C of warming above pre-industrial levels”, according to a report by Climate Action Tracker.
Hopefully, there are still chances to change the course of history, but surely enough, the clock is ticking faster and faster. On the positive side, calls on national governments to urgently reveal concrete plans to reduce greenhouse gas and the commitment to step up climate financing for developing countries are still in the draft final text. This could set the stage for COP27 in Egypt to take even bolder steps. As the convention closes, we can only hope countries do not walk back on these small wins.
By the way, Colombe and I spent a day at COP26: among a daunting organization, the feeling to be at a food fair, and a very inspiring meeting, we put together a short video about our experience. Check it out, and let me know what you think about it!
WHAT CAN WE DO TO FIGHT ON?
Obviously, thousands of things can be done to give humanity a chance to avoid the worst disasters of climate change. Let me mention two that are particularly dear to my heart:
- Twenty-six United Nations meetings later, we can say it: multilateralism is failing. Countries have different interests and are not willing to take bold actions to fight a global problem. We saw the same issue in COVID-19 vaccine access and countless times before it. So what do we do about it? Let's be honest: we need real, democratic global governance with actual decision-making competencies on global issues. Without it, there's no hope. What do I mean? Well, imagine electing parliamentarians at something like the United Nations, that in turn elect representatives able to take decisions like forcing countries to decrease their emission by 45% before 2030 (what’s needed to save the planet). Precisely as the federal government of the United States or the European Union have specific competencies trumping the ones of their member states, we need to have the same mechanism across the planet. It's our best chance to create an equitable society for all of us.
- I find it simply mad that while we are all squeezing our brains to find ways to save the planet, our governments still pour trillions of dollars in direct and indirect support to fossil fuels. They use taxpayers' money to support the most polluting industries in history: 89% of global CO2 emissions come from fossil fuels and industry. Yet, in 2020, they subsidized coal, oil, and gas production and burning by $5.9tn. This number is expected to rise to $6.4tn in 2025. Insane, right? And even more insane that resolutions to phase out subsidies at COP26 have been progressively softened. It's paramount to stop this: it's estimated that without subsidies, global emission would decrease by ⅓.
And much more can be done, every day, everywhere. My invite to you is to start thinking outside of the box. For instance, creating a global governance sounds crazy as probably in the' 40ies no one would have bet that Europeans could come together and delegate power to a supranational entity. A dream can materialize if we only want it, and I'll do anything to make this one happen.
- Ways to contribute: join Atlas to push for a global governance, sign our ‘ban fossil fuel subsidies’ campaign, support the campaign for the United Nations to enter into a climate emergency by Greta, Alexandria, Vanessa, and others.
- Interesting sources: read the 'Leap Forward' program Atlas delivered to the United Nations, check out Kumi Naidoo speech on fossil fuel subsidies at COP26
THE EQUITIST CORNER
From our Equitist manifesto: "Equitists vigorously support the preservation and enhancement of the environment, guided by the conviction that humans are a fundamental element of the natural ecosystem that governs animal and plant life. As such, Equitism wants to ensure that the impact of human societies on the environment is neither negative nor null, but positive. Equitists are convinced that the economy can only provide long-lasting well-being, if society understands that the ecosystem is the source of all our material wealth and therefore, as a society, live in a sustainable way"
In our quest to create an equitable society, we produce this daily newsletter, a weekly podcast, and every month together with our 20,000+ members, and we launch campaigns to turn words into action. Please support our work!
The world will not be changed by those who smile and carry on but by those standing tall and acting in the face of adversities. For Equity.
Andrea Venzon (he/him)
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