A hitchhiker’s guide to Glasgow COP 26
The upcoming climate conference has driven prices for a room in Glasgow as high as 3000 USD per night. Funnily enough, our advice is don’t visit. But definitely do read our blog on what the COP is and what to expect. And do follow our socials (@koobicarbon) for important updates.
You’ve probably heard about ‘COP 26’ and know it is happening in Glasgow next week. The hype has been building for a while and the media coverage can be overwhelming and hard to follow. Especially since every player in the climate space is pushing an agenda and pulling us in different directions.
Our aim is to cancel out the noise and tell you what Koobi believes is important about COP 26. We will cover what it is, what led us here, what we expect to see.
Back to the future.
Step back to 1992. The first IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report had just been released and climate change was on the international agenda. Nations met in Rio de Janeiro at the ‘Earth Summit’ to discuss the future of our planet. They agreed that climate change was happening, was driven by people, and was a threat to life on Earth.
Yep, we’ve known all this for quite a while!
A forum was necessary to bring world leaders together to tackle climate change, so the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) was born. This treaty set the playing field for international climate action.
Conferences of the parties (COPs) to this treaty then started taking place every year from 1995. Some of these stood out more than others. You’ve probably heard of the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ where emissions trading schemes were first adopted. Or the ‘Paris Agreement’ where ambitious goals to keep the world below 1.5 degrees celsius of warming were set. This is the threshold above which climate change impacts will likely be catastrophic.
In Paris in 2015, Nations established the idea of nationally determined contributions to emissions reductions. Their contributions were not ambitious enough to solve climate change, and almost all nations failed to meet their contributions anyway. It is not surprising then that we are nowhere near meeting the Paris goals. In fact, we are on track for a 2.7 degree rise in temperatures this century.
Chaos amid climate chaos
We now arrive in Glasgow with some context. World leaders will meet and discuss and negotiate their climate commitments. A party happens around them.
Journalists, charities, NGO’s, activists, businesses — basically anyone with skin in the game will be in Glasgow trying to make noise and push their agenda. The bad guys will be there too spreading misinformation and distracting from ‘real’ action.
When you hear the likes of Branson, Bezos etc. pushing for tech and inventive climate solutions we suggest interpreting this as “let us distract you from doing something meaningful while we prolong the status quo to make more money”. They know times and the climate are changing better than anyone. They just don’t care.
When you hear a world leader talk about climate action ‘hurting the economy’ or being ‘a tradeoff’, we suggest interpreting this as ‘they are ignorant or evil’. The Terminator summed this up really well in a recent interview. Green economies are good business.
Cynicism, skepticism and optimism
The big questions are what do we expect to happen and what should we look out for?
First, nations must increase their ambitions. Afundamental aspect of the Paris Agreement is that nations must improve their commitments every five years. It is unclear how this will play out but people are watching intently. Many journalists are waiting to humiliate countries that don’t step up.
We expect additional pledges on climate action including faster roll out of electric vehicles, faster phase outs of fossil fuels, etc. Keep an eye out for if these are legally binding commitments. And watch out for PR stunts — Saudi Arabia just pledged to go 100% carbon neutral (great) but will still export oil to anyone else who wants to pollute (not so great).
We expect more money to flow from North to South. Developed countries promised 100 billion USD annually in Paris to help developing countries survive the impacts of climate change. This was not delivered upon. There is mounting pressure here for this amount to be increased and actually paid. Let’s hope it isn’t a pay-off though, and that the developed world will also reduce its emissions.
Expect big things from the USA. They are a nation looking to reestablish themselves as a force of good in the world. The Biden government is impressive on climate and has been more action oriented than any predecessors, even Obama. Biden blocked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, a huge climate win that Obama missed.
Lastly. We need something big. Really big. But what could that be? We wouldn’t be surprised if a country bans fossil fuels outright. It may not happen at this COP, but our feeling is that it is imminent. We don’t know who it might be, maybe someone in Scandinavia, maybe a pacific island, maybe an African nation. What we do know, is they will stamp themselves as a serious world leader.
A statement like this would be huge and would mark the beginning of a major planetary transformation. A transformation for good. That’s for sure.
We could keep going but that’s enough for now. We will be publishing regular updates on our social media (@koobicarbon) so follow Koobi and stay tuned!