COP26 In Glasgow


With less than ten days left till 191 states gather in Glasgow to attend the UN’s climate change conference COP26, it is important to take stock of what to expect in the days to come. This year’s summit has been billed to be a landmark round of discussions. The four overarching issues relate to cutting down emissions, financially supporting developing countries in moving towards sustainable development, cutting down the use of fossil fuels and regulating carbon markets to have streamlined tradeable caps.
But even though the anticipation surround COP26 has led to expectations that the conference will result in groundbreaking commitments, the outcome after 12 days, when the discussions end, might be underwhelming. After the Paris Agreement, 2020-2021 was stated as the year for major structural overhaul. By 2030, global emissions have to be cut down to half and to a complete zero by 2050 if the international community is to fulfil the target of decreasing global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius.
So far, 113 states out of the total signatories are on target to decrease their emission levels by 12 percent in 2030. However, take all 191 signatories into account, and we are looking at a total increase of 16 percent in emissions instead.
The biggest problem remains one of collaboration. Developing countries will not contribute because they are owed financial support from wealthier states. For this purpose, the Paris Agreement had targeted to accumulate a fund of $200 billion to support the move towards sustainable production. In 2017, less than half of this figure—$79 billion—had been collected.
Wealthier countries such as Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, are also resisting curtailing fossil fuel consumption. Both these issues, of the developed countries not offering adequate support and also propagating the use of pollutants, will be one of the major hurdles to overcome in Glasgow.
It is important to be realistic when looking at climate change interests through the prism of realpolitik. Judging by previous instances and conferences of such stature, it will be too much to hope for the 191 signatories to even be able to uphold previously agreed upon targets, let alone try and aspire to hit loftier ones.