By Ella McCollum-Siegfried
On Monday, November 1st, the UN Climate Change Conference took place in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s often referred to as the COP26 which stands for "Conference of the Parties" and was the 26th meeting. It was hosted by the UK with the help of Italy in hopes of accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The conference discussed limiting the effects of global warming and addressed how countries planned to cut their emissions by 2030. More than 100 countries agreed to slash methane emissions and signed a pact to end deforestation, 140 countries agreed to strengthen their 2030 targets, and 190 countries agreed to phase out coal power and end public funding.
In the conference COP's agreement directly mentioned fossil fuels for the first time.
More accomplishments were that the "Paris Rulebook" -- a detailed guide on how countries must carry out the vision for a zero-carbon future, was also finalized, paving the way for global emissions reductions through carbon trading which creates a market with limited allowances for emissions. China and the US came to an agreement on the increase of efforts to slow down climate change. The agreement vowed to cut methane emissions, phase out coal consumption and protect forests. Australia also announced a commitment to a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and financially helping Pacific and South-East Asian countries deal with the effects of climate change, but they didn’t announce any plan for 2030.
There was a slight quarrel between some countries when India proposed the replacement of the phrase “phase out” with “phase down” when referring to coal emissions. As well, island nations were disappointed that the agreements weren’t more ambitious because of how much the rise of sea level is affecting them.
There’s also controversy surrounding the conference, with both the travel choices to attend the event and the progress that the conference made. Leading up to the event, 118 different business jets flew into the airports, according to data compiled by WingX, an aviation consultancy. Private jets are definitely the most environmentally inefficient way to travel, and many have pointed out the hypocrisy of arriving to a summit on climate change using something that is contributing to its very cause, but as said by Matt Finch, U.K. policy manager at the Transport and Environment campaign group, “[although] private jets are very prestigious … it is difficult to avoid the hypocrisy of using one while claiming to be fighting climate change.” There were also crowds outside of the conference, led by Greta Thunberg, protesting for more change.
“They have had 26 COPs, they have had decades of blah, blah, blah — and where has that got us?” questioned Greta Thunberg.