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The United Nations’ yearly climate change conference—also known as COP (Conference of the Parties)—has taken place since 1995. COP26 is being held in Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow is usually romantically translated as “the dear green place” which is most appropriate given that many climate experts believe that COP26 is our last best hope for meeting the Paris Agreement goals. In spite of 25 previous COPs, greenhouse gases continue to spiral out of control.
What Is So Special About COP26 in Glasgow, Below2C

COP26 – Getting on the Right Track?

The recent IPCC report is warning that the world is on the edge of a full code-red climate crisis. And UNEP’s 2021 Production Gap Report makes it clear that the gap between what must be done and what we are in fact doing is not getting smaller in spite of all the climate actions taken to date by the 195 member countries of the Paris Agreement.

The Gap Report “finds that when added together, the plans cut greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 by around 7.5% compared to the previous pledges made five years ago,” falling far short of the 45% by 2030 required to hold average global warming to 1.5°C.

Without exaggeration, COP 26 President Alok Sharma “will hold the fate of millions in his hands as he seeks to steer the world towards a workable climate agreement.”— The Energy Mix correspondent Alex Kirby

COP26 has 4 Main Goals (as reported in The National Observer’s Keep up with the latest developments on the most important summit).

  1. Keep 1.5°C of warming within reach and secure net-zero emissions by 2050.
  2. Complete rich countries’ promise to put forward at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020, and get international financial institutions to contribute to net-zero initiatives.
  3. Preserve natural habitats by maintaining and restoring ecosystems, which includes preparing communities for the impacts of climate change.
  4. Work together to finalize rules proposed during the Paris Agreement and collaborate to tackle the climate crisis.

Canada at COP26

The National Observer points out that Canada is “an early adopter of ambitious UN climate goals, but also one of the worst polluters on Earth.” A recent Carbon Brief analysis shows which countries are the worst polluters historically. Canada is ranked in the top 10 with 2.6% of  global emissions. The US is by far the worst with 20.3% of the world’s total.

Newly named Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault tweeted a healthy dose of optimism heading into COP26.

This will be Minister Guilbeault’s 19th COP but his first as Minister of Environment and Climate Change.

“Guilbeault, the former Greenpeace climate campaigner and Équiterre co-founder once dubbed the “Green Jesus of Montreal” by La Presse, takes over a department at the centre of the effort to sharpen federal climate policy and deliver the rapid greenhouse gas reductions Trudeau promised on the campaign trail, writes The Energy Mix

“Hoping my old friend @s_guilbeault will remain true to his roots—and lead Canada in upping its climate ambition and more importantly its actions,” tweeted Climate Finance Director Richard Brooks. “No time to waste. Actions speak louder than words.”

The tweet shows a photo of Guilbeault climbing the CN tower on the outside wall which prompted Bill McKibben to tweet “If he can scale the CN tower, I bet he can figure out how to shut down the TMX pipeline!.”

Now back to reality

COP Chair Alok Sharma predicts only modest progress in Glasgow. “What we’re very unlikely to see, he declared, is any advance beyond the outcome of COP 21, held in the French capital in 2015, and crowned with a significant agreement reached by almost 200 countries: to ensure that global temperatures should not rise by more than 2°C above their historic level, and if possible by no more than 1.5°C,” writes Mix correspondent Alex Kirby. “The overarching ambition”, he told us, “is that we should be able to say we’ve kept 1.5°C alive.”

Sharma’s very tepid ambition is alarming when in the eyes of many climate experts and scientists, this COP may very well be our “last best hope“, a term coined by John Kerry, the first United States special presidential envoy for climate.

To get the Canadian perspective from Glasgow, click on the button below.

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