COPPING HELL

With flash floods in London partially caused by intense rains not seen before and likely to
increase in the future on the basis of the latest IPCCC Research Reports, some will be
asking how can all the discussion on climate change at the COP26 in Glasgow help?

Now you will be forgiven for thinking everybody is going to Glasgow, well almost everyone,
but it must feel like Manhattan during a UN General Assembly when all the world leaders
head for New York annually. But it is first worth remembering that there will be two COPs,
the official one and the fringe. The official one will have delegates from all the Conference of
the Parties (COP) with almost 200 countries registered with the UN Convention on Climate
Change, while the fringe will have a host of companies, cities and regions and NGO’s from
both here and from all over the world all working towards net zero by 2050. So in short, there
will be 10,000 thousands of people going to Glasgow for both the COPs.

At the outset, it is worth asking what needs to happen for a successful COP26 in Glasgow?
In this respect, we will not only need to raise the ambitions of the National Climate Plans but
support the climate vulnerable developing countries and also advance the Paris Rulebook.

That means all the countries updating or submitting their new National Climate Plans (NCP)
that collectively keep limited warming down to around 1.5C within reach, but it is very clearly
not the case right now.

At present all the total of all the announced NCP’s submitted do not equal 45 per cent
reduction by 2030 and net zero by 2050. It is more like a 16 per cent increase in gas
emissions and thus an actual temperature rise of more like 2.6C rather than the maximum of
2C aiming for 1.5C in the Paris Accord.

So we need to see a very real improvement in the NCP’s submitted particularly from the big
polluters and the historically big one’s in the developed world. No country escape’s the climate crisis but those emitted the least and the most affected. That is why we will need to deliver the $100 bn annually to the developing world as promised in Paris even before the COP begins as it has become an issue of trust.

So it is disappointing to hear that this will not now be satisfied before the COP26 but will take
another 3 years from all the last minute negotiations. This issue will run and run and there is
no doubt even more climate finance will be required for the developing world to adapt by the
end of the present decade and beyond.

And finally the rule book has to have a common time frameworks for reporting and action
required to help enhance pledges, and to hold every country to account. For example, China
has stated it will hit net zero by 2060, with their carbon emissions peaking in 2030. Clearly
this falls a decade behind the timeframe established. But after verification from the
International Energy Agency (IEA) it suggests it is likely that China will meet their targets
earlier than suggested by even them, highlighting the need for common time frameworks. So
with such common time frameworks, we can better investigate India’s declared aim this
week of net zero by 2070.

So while there will be many other issues and themes raised like those during the first week –
deforestation measures signed up again, methane measures from the US & EU, green
finance – to name a few over the past few days, l make my trip during the second week of
the COP26 in Glasgow with these above questions primarily in mind. Only when these are
satisfactorily answered can we say we have had a successful COP26 at Glasgow.

An updated version of this blog was published in the Westminster Extra on the 5th of November