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Politics Reminder from COP26: We are the climate heroes we've been waiting for

21:20  20 november  2021
21:20  20 november  2021 Source:   thehill.com

COP26: Climate takeaways from Day 11 of the Glasgow talks

  COP26: Climate takeaways from Day 11 of the Glasgow talks With just over 24 hours before the COP26 climate summit comes to a close, it's all hands on deck.A new version of the draft agreement text is expected to be published at some point Thursday night, but COP26 President Alok Sharma made it clear the negotiations are far from over -- so don't be surprised if they continue past the deadline.

After international negotiations ended at the COP26 UN climate summit, the fate of the planet may seem like it's out of our hands. One recent headline from the New York Times put it this way, "Climate Promises Made in Glasgow Now Rest With a Handful of Powerful Leaders."

Reminder from COP26: We are the climate heroes we've been waiting for © AP Photo/Alastair Grant Reminder from COP26: We are the climate heroes we've been waiting for

But that's not the case.

Maintaining a livable planet by hitting climate targets and changing the way we as a species tread upon the land is squarely on our shoulders - the collective citizenry of Earth. The "handful of powerful leaders" it seems, may actually be more concerned with staying in power. This is supported by constant appeasing of the powerful fossil fuel lobby, while giving lip service to maintaining a livable planet. Remember, this is not the first or second round of the UN's Conference of the Parties meeting to address climate change - this was COP26. These powerful leaders have been performing this dance for over a quarter-century.

Prove us wrong, activist tells leaders at UN climate talks

  Prove us wrong, activist tells leaders at UN climate talks GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — A Ugandan activist channeled the fears of many young people and vulnerable countries at Thursday's U.N. climate talks in Glasgow that world leaders won't take the action needed to prevent potentially lethal levels of global warming. “The latest available science tells us that in order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we must reduce global CO2 emissions by somewhere between 7% to 11% this year, and next year, and every year after year, until we get to zero,” Vanessa Nakate told business and political leaders in an impassioned speech at the conference.

The reporting coming out of COP26 is that it was a mixed bag. On the one hand, there was a lot of drama about the language in the agreement reached, changing the goal of "phasing out coal" to "phasing down coal." While not a great development, I'm pretty sure the numbers are more important than the words.

Updated collective commitments leave us on track for 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming, which would be cataclysmic, worlds away from the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees. And that's if every country hits their targets, which they've never been able to do. Another important number is 503 - the number of delegates at COP 26 representing fossil fuel interests, boasting more representatives than any country.

On the other hand, there were a lot of positive developments around climate finance, methane, deforestation and biodiversity, as outlined by journalist David Roberts and the architect of the Paris Agreement, Christiana Figueres.

At COP26, It’s Domestic Politics, Stupid

  At COP26, It’s Domestic Politics, Stupid At COP26, It’s Domestic Politics, StupidA week into the talks, Barack Obama arrived in Glasgow with a message of encouragement for the young climate activists: keep up the good work. Youth activists have moved the needle, “building power” and “raising awareness,” Obama told a group of young climate leaders on the sidelines of the conference, insisting that the slow movement was the result of the slow wind of the democratic process. “It is not just cowardice on the part of leaders that prevents them from meeting these goals,” he said. “It’s the fact that, at least [for] those of us who live in democracies, there’s not yet a full consensus.

Of course, if the Democrats had gotten their act together and passed both halves of Biden's climate agenda - the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (signed into law this week) as well as the Build Back Better Act, COP26 may have had a completely different trajectory. But alas, we see largely the same dynamics at play: a lot of talk, a lot less action.

As in previous meetings, poorer countries with the least historical responsibility, and the least means to adapt, made passionate pleas for their survival. A handful of powerful countries ran the show. And generally, promises made at the COP stay at the COP - unless of course, the lawmakers back home decide in parallel to adopt the promises their delegates proclaimed on the world stage. Oh, and of course there are promises of greater cooperation, this time in the form of the U.S. and China announcing how they're going to start working together more on climate.

The Latest: Huddles delay stocktaking session at UN talks

  The Latest: Huddles delay stocktaking session at UN talks GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The latest on the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow: GLASGOW, Scotland — Last-minute smaller negotiations have delayed the larger group of nations from taking up a potential agreement at the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. Conference president Alok Sharma vowed that the negotiations will end Saturday afternoon, a day later than scheduled, and result in “a balanced package.” “A number of parties are still wanting to have a discussion and resolve issues,” Sharma said more than 100 minutes after a scheduled “stock-take” discussion of the most recent drafts was supposed to start, but hadn’t.


Video: What Is COP26? Everything You Need To Know Ahead Of Climate Change Summit (Newsweek)

It may sound like I'm being cynical, but I'm not. I don't get upset when these climate summits fall far short of expectations. Because while I'm rooting for a different outcome, I'm not betting on it.

With the U.S. failing to pass any domestic climate legislation beforehand, did anyone really think that world leaders would solve the climate crisis over two weeks of powerpoints, press conferences and room service?

As Figueres points out, whether we realize it or not, we are already in the midst of a global, economy-wide transformation that is building momentum. "It is a deliberate metamorphosis that is more complex and far-reaching than any transformation we have ever attempted," she notes.

Like a butterfly's metamorphosis, the caterpillar's imaginal cells start binding together, and eventually will take over the entire organism and transform it into a butterfly. At first it seems like the sporadic isolated imaginal cells are too insignificant to change the makeup of the caterpillar. But when the imaginal cells start clustering together, and quickly outnumber the caterpillar cells, we witness one of the most beautiful transformations in nature.

COP26 ended with the 'Glasgow Climate Pact.' Here's where it succeeded and failed

  COP26 ended with the 'Glasgow Climate Pact.' Here's where it succeeded and failed Nearly 200 countries adopted the Glasgow Climate Pact in Scotland on Saturday at talks known as COP26, after nearly two weeks of wrangling on everything from how much to limit global warming, what to say about fossil fuels and whether the worst-hit countries by the climate crisis should be compensated. © PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images A woman walks past a COP26 sign covered with plants inside the Action Hub during the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow © Alberto Pezzali/AP Britain's Alok Sharma, second left, President of the COP26 and Patricia Espinosa, left, UNFCCC Executive-Secretary applaud during the closin

To translate that from biology to politics, I think David Roberts sums it up well. "National governments are often going to be in the caboose of this train - civic groups, the private sector and subnational governments are leading the way," he said. "That's distributed all over the world, less easy to see and sum up, but it shows that the caution and intransigence of national governments are not the whole story."

Who is he referring to as leading the way, exactly? All of us. The citizens. The ones who know that we can't keep crossing our fingers and praying for the next Congress or the next COP to awaken from hibernation. No, the hard work needs to be done by us. Through our community action plans, our town-hall meetings and our company-wide goals. Our fossil fuel divestments and our clean energy investments. Our community solar projects. Our community gardens. Our plant-laden diets. Our "get out the vote" campaigns. Our grassroots efforts to fight corporate utilities trying to block renewable energy development. Our climate resiliency efforts. Our new cultural narratives. Our bike lanes, our bus lines and our climate grief circles.

As COP26 conference President Alok Sharma said, "Everyone who knows about these talks know that this is not about one big bang solution to climate change. It's a building block." And what's underreported is that for the past quarter-century, all the progress made at the COPs, each building block, has been made possible not by the wordsmithing skills of the agreements' authors - but by the economic, social, technological and cultural trends already brought into existence by the billions of people on the planet making bet

ter decisions, smarter investments and implementing more creative climate solutions. We are the ones driving the greatest economic paradigm shift in history. And we are the ones who ultimately control its pace. And these next few years, well, they are our last best chance to build unstoppable momentum toward a sustainable, equitable, clean-energy powered world.

Andreas Karelas is author of the book "Climate Courage: How Tackling Climate Change Can Build Community, Transform the Economy, and Bridge the Political Divide in America" published by Beacon Press. He is also the founder and executive director of RE-volv, a nonprofit climate justice organization that helps fellow nonprofits across the country go solar. Follow him on Twitter: @AndreasKarelas

This piece has been updated to reflect the proper spelling of Christiana Figueres' name.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!