Op-Ed: Is there still time for COP27 to hold back climate catastrophe?
This past Friday saw the sixth anniversary of the Copenhagen climate summit which saw world leaders embrace the notion that carbon emissions would now have to be cut by somewhere around 40 per cent, well beyond the already high reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol.
The result: a series of UN summits on the climate crisis over the past two years. The next summit, COP26, is planned for November, though its chairperson will be new and this is probably where the hope and despair come in.
As this piece in the New York Times puts it, “In recent days, a succession of global crises has cast a pall on COP26. A terrorist attack in Paris sparked a worldwide outcry. A tsunami in Aceh province caused heavy damage in a city already overwhelmed by a crippling housing crisis. Then came protests in Hong Kong, the largest in years. And now there is the Ebola epidemic, in which thousands are believed to have died.”
But, as this piece in the Guardian puts it, “the biggest and most important climate treaty ever to be signed is about to be celebrated in the global heart of the West: Copenhagen. And in doing so it is being tested by the biggest and most devastating economic and social disaster. A year after being introduced to the world’s nations, climate change is still one of the great enigmas of the modern age.”
For decades now, we have been told that the world must cut its greenhouse gas emissions so as to prevent climate catastrophe. We need to do it quickly, in a way that is both effective and equitable. We need to do it now.
But we see little evidence, on the ground, that we are in fact taking serious steps to do anything of the kind. The Copenhagen summit set a number of key milestones and the IPCC has identified three more that need to be fulfilled before we see a serious reduction in emissions.
And it is in this context that, in the past couple of months,