The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, has taken place this year, starting on the 31th October and it is scheduled to end on the 12th November. Held in Glasgow, it’s the 26th annual meeting between world governments under the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where they meet to discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally.
Climate change is one of the most important issues in our society today, yet it seems to be difficult for many world governments to follow their promises made in past COP climate summits. New analysis from the COP26 climate summit shows that, despite previous promises made, the world is nowhere near its goals on limiting global temperature rise.
In Paris in 2015, the COP summit laid out a plan for avoiding dangerous climate change which included “pursuing efforts” to keep warming under 1.5C, however COP26 revealed that the world is in fact heading towards a global temperature increase of 2.4C.
An increase of 2.4C could have damaging effects to our planet, and the UK’s Met Office warns that a billion people could be affected by fatal heat and humidity if average global temperatures rise by even 2C above pre-industrial levels.
According to the Climate Change Action Tracker (CAT), COP26 “has a massive credibility, action and commitment gap”.
CAT also blames “stalled” momentum from governments for the limited progress towards their previous plans of cutting the greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. However, the US and China have made new promises which CAT says have slightly improved their forecasting on temperature rises.
Alongside this, other deals were agreed at COP26 to combat recent global warming and save our planet. There was a promise made by 100 world leaders to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, which will cut down on the energy that is wasted by deforestation, as well as increase the world’s natural carbon sink by planting more trees. Also in the same timeframe, the US and EU made a global partnership to reduce methane emissions.
More than 40 countries have agreed to move away from coal, a fuel we are already running out of anyway, but unfortunately the US and China did not agree to this. It was also announced that new pots of money were announced in order to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
Climate Action Tracker’s projection of global warming concludes that in 2030, greenhouse gas emissions will still be twice as high as what we need to keep temperature rise below 1.5C. With our current policies, CAT predicts temperatures to rise by around 2.5-2.9C by the year 2100.
However, if the pledges and targets made in the COP26 summit are followed, CAT predicts that global temperatures may only increase by around 1.9-2.1C. This would result in the global greenhouse emissions to be 10-15 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by the year 2100, which is a significant decrease from the 50 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide we are producing currently.
If global temperatures were to rise by only 1.5C consistently, then by 2100, the world could potentially be neutral in our greenhouse gas emissions, CAT projects.
Written by Jade Andrew
Research compiled by Jonas Theaker