Temperatures are rising across the world and this year we have already seen extreme weather events – heat waves, droughts and flooding. If we continue behaving as we are, further catastrophic temperature increase could be reached in just over a decade.

But it need not be too late, for scientists say that if the world acts fast the worst can be avoided.

The global climate change summit taking place in Glasgow between 1st and 12th November this year is the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, hence ‘COP 26’.  The most significant COP to date, COP 21, was held in Paris in 2015 and resulted in “The Paris Agreement” between 196 countries. It represented for the first time a binding agreement between all nations to undertake ambitious measures to combat climate change. Its goal was to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.  Unfortunately progress on this so far falls far short of those targets.

So, what outcomes would ACAN like to see from COP26?  We can do no better than quote from ‘Positive Planet’ Positive Planet | COP26 Uniting The World To Tackle Climate Change. which proposes four main areas:

1. Mitigation – Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.   To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to:

  • accelerate the phase-out of coal
  • curtail deforestation
  • speed up the switch to electric vehicles
  • encourage investment in renewables.

2. Adaptation – Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects.  At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to:

  • protect and restore ecosystems
  • build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

3. Finance Mobilise finance

To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year.   International financial institutions must play their part and we need work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

4. Mobilisation – Work together to deliver

We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together.  At COP26 we must:

  • finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational)
  • accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.

Pervading all this is the issue of climate justice; most of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have come from the richest nations on earth, but poorer nations suffer proportionately far more from their effects. Developing countries will need a significant financial package to help them adapt to rising temperatures.

Just talking about these issues and making pledges is not enough.  Participating nations must take immediate action on them. It really is now or never for our beautiful planet and just talking about the problem simply won’t do.

It is over to you, world leaders.  For all our sakes, and especially for our children and grandchildren, please take this opportunity to make a difference and make this work!