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7:34pm 03/11/2021
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COP26: a climate summit for our children

Sin Chew Daily

COP26 or the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, is currently being held in Glasgow, Scotland, from November 1 to 12, with the participation of leaders or their key representatives from nearly 200 countries.

The meetings are lengthy and the participants are all heavyweights. By right, this must be something which has a lot to do with you and me. Unfortunately, most people in the street would hardly take heed. They don’t seem to worry about CO2 emission, greenhouse effect, climate change, rising sea levels, etc.

Major calamity could strike our planet in half a century, but who will bother about something so far away?

We are very much more concerned about the imminent threats of the coronavirus because it can kill us easily. We won’t care about climate change. It is something so distant from us and should best be handled by our children and grandchildren instead. Selfishness of humanity at its crudest.

Because of that, we have to say COP26 is a global climate change summit held specifically for our posterity.

If leaders from these 200 countries would make resolved decisions in the summit and subsequently implement their “carbon neutrality” and “zero emission” pledges, then our planet’s temperature and emission levels should drop back to those of the first industrial revolution (1760-1840) by mid-century.

This is the only way for our planet to avert the irreversible disaster caused by the greenhouse effect. That also explains why Time magazine has depicted COP26 as the “most important global gathering on climate change in years”.

The just concluded G20 summit has not touched on any substantial solution on climate change and because of that, the world is now pinning its hopes on COP26 to get world leaders to be concerned about the deteriorating climate change.

Unfortunately, big emitters like China, Russia and Brazil have failed to show up at the summit although they have promised to take part in video conferences. Their absence will have a major impact on the outcome of the conference.

China, in particular, emitted 9.9 billion tons of carbon in 2020, about 31% of global total!

The objective of COP26 is to achieve net zero carbon emission globally by 2050, and this is only possible with full coordination from countries across the world.

High carbon-emitting petrochemical industry, coal production and vehicles are to be substituted by low-emission and renewable alternatives.

In view of this, investment and application of renewables are estimated to triple over the next ten years, and EVs will take the place of gas-guzzling automobiles.

The thing is, major energy reform policy is not what developing countries can change on their own. It has been estimated that at least 70% of the funds need to be externally sourced, or such carbon reduction plans would only work in developed countries, and remain very much just a slogan in the rest of the world. COP26 will decide whether humanity would turn the “climate change” slogan into action.

World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its latest study report that extreme weather events are now a new normal.

The Earth has recorded new highs in temperature on record for every of the last seven years. Due to warming sea water and acidification, sea levels across the world have risen dramatically since 2013 to a new record in 2021.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres even said COP26 must be a turning point for humankind and our planet. Simply put, COP26 should be a major congregation of leaders to transform the Earth and human lives.

Human industrial activities have generated enormous amounts of carbon emissions, massive swathes of forests are being logged every year, more than 80 million vehicles are put on our roads worldwide, annual crude oil output nearing 36 billion barrels a year, 7.8 billion tons of coal production…

Climate change and rising temperature will not stop to wait for humans to act. Solutions must be sought immediately.

Extreme weather patterns have expedited glacier melting in the poles, along with monster floods in China and Western Europe, heatwave and wildfires in the US and Australia, and famine in parts of Madagascar as a result of four long years of continuous drought. The UN has blamed all these on climate change.

Meanwhile, unusual downpours have boosted the breeding of locusts in East Africa, and some 400 billion of these insects have flown thousands of miles to eventually “settle down in India”. And the list goes on and on…

We have no more time to waste to arrest the worsening climate change. The four major objectives of COP26 should become a consensus of the entire human race:

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

2. Protect communities and natural habitats, restore ecosystems to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

3. Developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilize at least US$100 billion in climate finance every year.

4. Finalize the Paris Rulebook and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis.

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