Tuesday, December 7

We are running out of time to take a turn at the helm

COP26 closes today. With water to his knees, Simon Kofe, Tuvalu’s foreign minister, symbolizes this last chance to save the planet. We know that this decade is the last we have to contain temperatures below 1.5 degrees. Above 2 degrees, extreme heat waves, water shortages and the collapse of ecosystems await us.

Regarding the results of this COP26, there are evaluations for all tastes. There is an optimistic vision that celebrates the commitments and the new climate promises announced with great fanfare by heads of state and industry bosses. Those who feel that something is changing, that we gain in ambition and urgency.

And then there are the others, those of us who feel that it is no longer a time for fireworks, but for clear, concrete and binding plans, forceful action, accelerated deadlines and financing up to the challenge, solidarity and ensuring a just transition. Unfortunately it is not the first time that our leaders commit and do not comply. We are running out of time to take a turn and ensure that we contain global warming. Every month counts, every tenth counts.

It is true, progress has been made, more than other times. This last week we have seen the list of agreements and commitments grow. For the first time, it is called for the end of public aid for oil, gas and coal. The aviation industry carried the net zero commitment by 2050. More than 100 countries agreed to reduce methane emissions. Another 130 countries pledged to halt deforestation by 2030 (already promised in 2014) and to commit billions of dollars to the effort. India first joined the growing chorus of nations pledging to achieve “net zero” emissions, setting a 2070 deadline.

But the set of approved measures, the deadlines and the voluntary nature of a great majority of the agreements are insufficient. There is still a lot of analytical work, but scientists agree: with the agreements reached, the world is targeting at least 2.4 to 2.7 ° C of warming, if not more, well above the critical threshold.

To limit warming to just 1.5 ° C, global fossil fuel emissions must fall by half between 2010 and 2030. However, the national plans presented this week are a long way from closing the current emissions gap, pointing out that aggregate emissions will rise 13% in 2030.

Even if 90% of the population did not produce carbon at all, the projected emissions of the richest 10% over the next nine years would use almost the entire set of possible emissions. It is the rich and more industrialized countries, the highest incomes, which have to multiply their efforts exponentially.

The climate crisis is a deeply unequal contest. The countries that have contributed the least to this crisis, having emitted less GHG, are those that are already experiencing its consequences today, and those that also have fewer resources, not only to adapt and mitigate its impact, but to face the consequences. damages and losses that extreme events are already causing.

But there, too, the summit has failed. No agreements have been reached for the constitution of a fund that covers “damages and losses” of the countries, nor have sufficient funds for adaptation and mitigation been secured for the poorest countries. Nor have we yet addressed a fundamental element: the need to review international law and refugee status. Climate disasters are already one of the main causes of migration in the world today and the climate crisis may cause 216 million environmental refugees in 2050.

The conference is ending, but we have a lot of work to do.


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