We’re now a little over a week since the 118 Private Jets soared out of Glasgow, local Airbnb prices returned from their stratospheric rates and COP President Alok Sharma shed a tear as negotiations concluded. The media dust may have settled, but the gravity of the task at hand certainly has not.
The mantra going into COP26 was ‘keep 1.5°C alive’, the temperature rise limit set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement required to prevent an all out climate disaster. Prior to COP nations’ climate pledges were due to set the world on a catastrophic trajectory of 2.4°C of warming. During the summit, Alok Sharma failed to take any breaks and sustained himself solely on Lucozade tablets in order to keep 1.5°C front and centre of the negotiations. “A rise of 1.5C is not an arbitrary number, it is not a political number. It is a planetary boundary. Every fraction of a degree more is dangerous.” Johan Rockström, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Guardian)
During the first week of COP, hoards of celebrities and thought leaders flocked to Glasgow to regale the importance of securing global net zero by mid-century to achieve the non-negotiable 1.5°C. At first, this seems like the equivalent of walking into a gym at 6am and shouting down a megaphone about the benefits of getting fit. However on discovering there were more delegates associated with the fossil fuel industry in attendance than any single country, and suddenly it’s as if some of our analogy 6am gym goers are simultaneously campaigning for a McDonald’s in the foyer.
This, I think, captures the resounding sentiment of COP26; an undeniably obvious and important goal, with the negotiation of a pathway to get there made more challenging by nitwits in various guises and modes of stealthiness. The result, each COP success comes with a string of caveats, terms and conditions, ‘buts’ and rueful shrugs. So what happened and what do we do now?
The Good: More than 40 countries agreed to phase out coal by the 2030s for major economies, and 2040s for poorer nations. Amazingly (and bafflingly) this…