COP26:  Where do we go from here?

Ace co-ordinator Sarah Wiltshire has sent this letter to the Editor of the Craven Herald about the outcome of the COP26 (Conference of the Parties) held in Glasgow earlier this month. It can been seen at:

‘So what was the United Nations global climate summit COP 26 all about? In Paris in 2015 195 nations committed themselves to work towards seeking to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees centigrade and aim for 1.5 ˚c, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims. The commitments, which have to be agreed by consensus (not easy to achieve), are voluntary and are not legally binding, unlike treaties between nations.

So far we are not on track to achieve this goal as temperatures are already increased by 1.2 ˚c  from pre industrial levels (1880) according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The impact of the climate emergency are already being felt with melting ice, rising sea levels, extensive forest fires, flooding and loss of forests and sadly loss of lives and people’s homes and livelihoods. Other effects of global warming include population movements, severe disruption to our weather patterns, our water and food systems and to eco systems and biodiversity. It can also bring about weakened governments, political instability leading to conflicts and even wars.

COP 26 was supposed to take action to get us back to the Paris targets to avoid further climate related catastrophes. It is clear from the outcomes that rich nations like our own are still failing to cut emissions fast enough and to meet their responsibilities to deliver money already promised to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with the  implications of global warming. If all governments met their 2030 targets, we would still have 2.4 ˚c of warming in 2100, but right now, current policies put us at 2.7 ˚c.

Meanwhile the UK government has key decisions to take about high-carbon projects, including the Cambo Oil Field near Shetlands and the Cumbrian coal mine near Whitehaven. The government still hasn’t come up with enough money or policies needed to get the country’s emissions down in line with its targets; nor is it taking seriously the need for a just transition, which means workers in polluting industries risk losing out as we move to clean technology.

Locally at our Green Café virtual meeting on 13 November we discussed the recent report by the University of Leeds, commissioned by Settle Town Council, which showed that drastic action is needed to cut our emissions in the next ten years if we are to play our part in seeking to achieve the 1.5 ˚c Paris target and achieve net zero by 2050.

ACE’s priorities for the next year include continue to support a greater take-up of energy saving measures, viable alternatives to reducing the use of petrol and diesel cars and involving more local people in improving local biodiversity.

COP27 reconvenes next year in Egypt where climate activists will intensify raising awareness about the severe climate impacts we are facing and the action that is needed. In the meantime, we in ACE will continue to work locally and think nationally and if you agree and would like to help, please consider joining ACE and becoming involved in our work.’


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