Thousands of young campaigners marched through the streets of Glasgow on Friday. They called on world leaders to take immediate action at the COP26 Summit to avoid catastrophic climate change.
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Voluntary Action Plans at COP26 Raise Concerns
The COP26 Climate Summit is currently ongoing in Glasgow. Over the past week of the conference, there have been several government statements and pledges to advance climate policy. These have included plans to phase out coal, reduce emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane, and reduce deforestation.
However, protesters and pressure groups have been disappointed by the commitments made thus far. Many of these declarations are voluntary and not legally enforceable. Some of them either do not include the largest polluters or set deadlines decades into the future. Marchers and community leaders who spoke at the summit further called for a fundamental shift in the status quo.
Greta Thunberg, a Swedish teen activist, claimed that elites in the global north seem to be fighting to block serious change.
“They are actively finding loopholes and constructing frameworks for their own gain and to continue benefitting from this harm,” she claimed. “We need severe annual emission cuts unlike anything the world has ever seen,” she added, according to an NDTV report.
Why is the Glasgow Summit so important right now?
The goal of the Glasgow Summit discussions is to arrive at collective commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from fossil fuels. These plans are necessary in order to prevent the crucial 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures.
According to scientists, this is the moment when the Earth’s already extreme weather events might become catastrophic and irreversible.
To that end, the UN wants countries to cut their emissions in half from 1990 levels by 2030, with a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. This means the world would no longer release more greenhouse gases than it is trying to remove from the atmosphere at the same time. On Thursday, 23 more countries pledged to try to phase out coal, but only over the next three decades. However, China- currently the world’s largest coal consumer- did not join the pledge.
Indonesia, home to huge and threatened tropical forests, made a fast U-turn after making a vow to prevent deforestation. However, the strategy to reduce methane emissions by 30% may strike a possibly effective blow against greenhouse gases.
According to US climate envoy John Kerry, a compromise could be made at the meeting to finalize the last details of the rulebook for interpreting the 2015 Paris Agreement. According to him, the US prefers “the most frequent possible” assessments of whether countries are reaching their carbon reduction targets.