"Greta Thunberg has already pronounced the COP26 climate conference a failure.
In important respects, the Swedish activist is correct.
The commitments made at the conference are insufficient to hold global heating
to 1.5℃ this century. Leading producers and users of coal, including Australia,
rejected a proposed agreement to end the use of coal in electricity generation
by 2030. The Australian government went further and refused to commit to
reducing methane emissions – a position endorsed by the Labor opposition.
And the rapid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has produced an
equally rapid recovery in demand for all forms of energy, resulting in spikes
in the prices of coal, oil and gas.
On the other hand, considered over a longer term, the outcomes of the Glasgow
conference look rather better.
At the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, participants agreed to aim at holding
global heating below 2℃ this century, but did not deliver policy commitments to
achieve this goal. The scenarios considered most plausible at the time yielded
estimated heating of around 3℃.
The worst-case scenario, commonly described as “business as usual”, implied a
catastrophic increase of up to 6℃ in global temperatures by 2100. As a result
of all this, the Copenhagen talks were considered a spectacular failure.
But heading into the final days of the Glasgow summit, the goal of limiting
heating below 2℃ looks attainable, and 1.5℃ is still possible. Despite the
inevitable disappointments in the decade or so since Copenhagen, there is still
room for hope."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics