Tag Archives: COP26

Observations of an Expat: Nation v the World

I told you so. In all humility, I was not alone. The WHO issued a veritable flood of dire warnings. Dozens of NGOs did the same. So did an army of globalists who argued that common sense dictated that Covid is a global problem that requires global cooperation to save lives and a world economy of which we are all a part.

We argued that Africa, with poor its health conditions and poorer health facilities, was likely to produce a highly transmissible mutant virus that would find its way north and bite a Europe and America that ignored Africa firmly in the bum.

I may be overstating the case. Scientists are waiting for more data before a judgement on the seriousness of the Omicron variant. So far there appears to be good news and bad news in initial reports from Africa and the 29 non-African countries to which it has spread in a matter of days.

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Business forums at COP26 revealed what company bosses need from carbon pricing to facilitate decarbonisation – and it is not ETS!

The recent Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021 and Hydrogen Transition Summit revealed that business leaders want to decarbonise but are held back by the lack of price ambition and predictability of the Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) carbon pricing regime. They argued for an economy wide, strong, predictable, preferably global, carbon price to facilitate decarbonisation, ….”The best (thing) governments can do to promote hydrogen is a global carbon tax” Seifi Ghasemi Chairman, CEO and President of Air Products.

The management consulting company Roland Berger advocates a high carbon price to render decarbonisation cost effective, at a level only currently found in Sweden and Switzerland (alongside ETS, with Climate Income in Switzerland). Stefan Schaible, Global Managing Partner, Roland Berger, stated that COP26 had been as he expected, not the lowest or the highest step in the right direction. There was however, a step change in opinion on the environment, (the German government even includes Green Party members!) so there is continuing pressure to reduce emissions targets……“We need action. We cannot go on like this for certain sectors such as energy and transport. Only with carbon at $100 per tonne will profits shrink dramatically or even halve so they (the industry sectors) have to move”.

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COP26 didn’t save the world but it helps

Glasgow was not a disaster after all. Neither was it a ringing success. Hopes had been building that the Conference of Parties would have reached an agreement that would get us near to capping global warming at 1.5°C. That target has been missed. The promises needed will be delivered in Egypt next year at COP27 at the earliest, if at all. But the ambition to limit the temperature rise 1.5°C is still alive and that is an achievement.

There have been strides forward and the next COP has been brought forward to next year not the usual five year interval.

We need to act quickly.  Climate change is happening not just in developing countries, but here in Europe and in North America.

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Young people need leaders to end the environmental pandemic

The Covid pandemic gave us a temporary glimpse into apocalyptic living.

Day to day life as we knew it ended in March 2020 as we stared into the face of the most serious and scary public health crisis in living memory.

It forced unprecedented changes in our behaviour.

Yet global force delivered vaccinations as the solution.

The climate crisis is no less scary and necessitates similarly swift and robust measures to combat.

Unless we rapidly reduce carbon emissions, we risk not a temporary but permanent state of apocalyptic living.

Just like how Covid can be combatted by technological medical advancement, following the science, and innovation, so too can climate change.

The global health of the planet demands world leaders react with the same level of urgency posed by a pandemic virus. Climate change is indeed mother nature’s pandemic.

My generation’s security, prosperity and very existence rest on their shoulders.

95-year-old Sir David Attenborough’s impassioned plea to COP26 was not about the generation in the room, rather the young people watching at home or protesting outside.

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Is Greta right? Has COP26 failed?

It has been a week of announcements. A week of ambitions. And a week of ambiguities. And according to activist Greta Thunberg, COP26 is nothing other than “blah, blah, blah” and has failed. Is that really the case?

It’s rather imperialistic to argue that the countries that are trying to build their per capita wealth and standards of living should now pay for the sins of the most developed countries. The developed countries are responsible for most of the increases in atmospheric carbon. They are richer and have the ability to pay.

But the reliance of countries like India and China on coal for electricity and the lack of commitment from Russia risks swamping small countries. Quite literally.

There have been achievements on forest clearance, on a mixed bag of net zero targets and on financing. But even if countries keep to their pledges, it still doesn’t stack up to keeping global warming to 1.5°C.

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World Review: COP26, French fishing, Taiwan territory and Russian gas

COP26 finished its first week with a super abundance of world leaders making a plethora of pledges about climate change. Deforestation is to end (except maybe in Indonesia). More money is to be made available for green technology in developing countries. Eighteen countries (most of them small) have agreed to move away from coal generated energy. Now the leaders have flown home in their gas guzzling carbon emitting private jets and left it to officials to hammer out the devilish details and attempt to wring out concessions from the biggest polluters, mainly China and India who together are responsible for over a third of the planet’s carbon emissions. On the latter point they will have a tough job. India refuses to commit to climate change targets until 2070 which most climatologists reckon is much too little much too late. China, for its part, is continuing to build and export electricity stations powered by its massive coal reserves. Meanwhile, the Global Carbon Project reported that global carbon emissions are climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, with India rising by 12.6% and China by 4% between 2020 and 2021. The climate watchdogs predict that 2022 could see record levels of carbon emissions as air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.

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Observations of an Expat: Climate people

Climate change affects every single one of the7.8 billion people living on planet Earth and each one of them is an individual with homes, jobs, families, friends, dreams and aspirations.

Already these are being shattered by floods, fires, droughts, desertification and storms. Millions have already been affected. Below are a sample of specific cases that herald future problems for the rest of the world.

Cecile Rvanavaluna used to work in her local rice paddy every day. Now Madagascar’s rice fields—which take up a third of the East African Island’s agricultural land—are dust. Madagascar has been suffering a drought for a record 40 years. It is, according to the UN, the victim of the first climate induced famine.

Cecile and her family are being kept just above starvation levels by handouts from the World Food Programme. Other Malagasy’s are less fortunate. At least 30,000 are said to be dying from starvation. Many are reduced to eating cactus leaves which would otherwise be fed to livestock. With so many in a weakened state disease is rampant.

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The hypocrisy of COP26 and those that sponsor it

There is a trust problem about the COP26 meeting, currently happening in Glasgow and deciding the fate of the world.

That is hardly surprising given that – bizarrely, on the eve of a hugely important climate conference, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced billions in road spending, cuts to taxes on polluting domestic flights and cancelled long-delayed fuel duty rises.

But still, that isn’t the only problem about COP meetings in recent years: the other problem is who governments choose as partners.

Polluters like Air France, gas and electricity company Engie and carmakers BMW and Renault were among the sponsors of COP21 in Paris …

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Observations of an Expat: Climate Change Outliers

COP-26 in Glasgow has been organised because of the general recognition that international cooperation on an unprecedented scale is required to prevent the Earth which we all inhabit from alternately sinking beneath the waves or burning to a crisp.

Every country has to agree to concerted measures to reduce carbon emissions in order to keep global temperature rises down to 1.5 degree centigrade. It is a classic case of a chain being only as strong as its weakest link.

The need for action was highlighted this week by a report from the UN Environment Programme that commitments agreed so far would result in temperature rises of 2.7 degrees centigrade. This would spell disaster for almost every inhabitant of this planet.

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Observations of an Expat: Saving the world & political incompetence

A perfect storm appears to be gathering over Glasgow to obstruct the COP26 Climate Change Conference which starts on 31 October. Two hundred countries, 100 hundred world leaders and 30,000 participants from politicians to climatologists, to diplomats to businesses and to pressure groups will turn the Scottish city into a logistical nightmare for a fortnight. But that is an insignificant issue and a tiny price to pay if the world’s governments come up with a workable plan to reduce global temperature rises to the target of 1.5 degrees centigrade by 2050 or, hopefully, sooner. Unfortunately, that appears increasingly unlikely for a host of reasons. Top of the list is the world economy. It is in a mess.

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MOVE – Shuffling Humanity

It is just possible to read Parag Khanna’s latest work and take comfort in our prospects here in Europe’s troubled offshore island – but that optimism (as learned when coding in the late 60’s) – is a Multiple IF statement.  The likelihood of a positive outcome is dependent on passing a series of successively dependent tests, each with its own probability of success.  IF this, IF that, and IF something else, THEN this may be.  Optimists may rejoice that the ELSE, and the timeframe, remains unstated.  Even the far-seeing Parag Khanna can only divine a favourable outcome for Britain ‘despite itself’.

As we all edge ever closer to COP26 in Glasgow, and media outlets and governments turn their talents towards analysing climatic challenges, Parag’s focus is humanity – how mass migration will reshape the entire world.  Those of us who were captivated by Bronowski’s ‘Ascent of Man’ back in 1973 may still vividly recall the migrating Lapps and their reindeer herds.  Their nomadic wanderings across the arctic in search of grazing and shelter may have only recently faded but will be as nothing to the emergent mass migrations in search of climatic sufficiency, sustainability, and survival.

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COP26: Likely to save the planet?

Now, I’m not the sort of person that resorts to hyperbole for a dramatic opening sentence but, in case you hadn’t noticed, the future of the planet is hanging in the balance. This is not the statement of a wild-haired fanatic, living with badgers and chanting cross-legged in the woods but a widely acknowledged scientific fact. For the last few years a growing list of eminently respectable people have been warning us that urgent action is required: Sir David Attenborough does it, HRH Prince Charles regularly does it, António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations definitely does it, even peers of the realm do it. Given irrefutable scientific evidence and the reverberating voices of powerful and respected people, then surely, you would think, something is going to change. We know the causes of climate change. We know what action needs to be taken. So, what is stopping us?

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Davey tells Johnson to save country and world from climate crisis

As COP26 approaches, Boris Johnson is looking more and more like a rabbit confused by headlights. Flashing into his eyes are the growing number of Conservative MPs who believe that greening the economy fast by driving ahead electric cars, reducing wasteful consumption and cutting our impact on the environment will damage “the economy”.

This is a Tory monopolistic view of the economy. Continue in the old ways that are destroying our planet. That must be good in their view because there is money in shareholder’s pockets.

It is proving hard to convince many national politicians, local councils and punters in the pub that we are in a climate emergency. My own council, Shropshire Council, was trumpeting its climate credentials this morning by promoting an environmentally destructive relief road around Shrewsbury. The details of its environmental improvements are under wraps for now but they seem to involve a tarmac for trees swap. Screw up the environment and plant trees in absolution. I don’t buy environmental confessionals.

But we still need to plant trees. Yesterday, Ed Davey challenged the government on its record of planting trees.

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Science fiction global effort needed for climate or we could face dystopia

The IPCC report is a big report in a big year. COP26 is less than 100 days away. A world still gripped with the pandemic is being urged to get to grip with climate change. Covid-19 has been in our communities. In our bodies. Debilitating and killing in real time. Climate change has been around the corner. Out of sight and too often out of mind.

No longer. Heat bombs, floods, droughts, all predicted consequences of climate change and the strains to which human activities are putting on our planet.

Yet, we still get contradictory messages from politicians.

In the UK, a legacy of fossil fuel addition has led to the approval of new oil and gas exploration and the stuttering progress of greening schemes. Worldwide, there is a growing consensus on the need for action but also an inertia against such action.

The great sci writers, Arthur C. Clarke and many others, envisioned the world acting together against galactic and universal forces at a time of crisis. There is an alternative vision of the future. Dystopia. And that could be our future if COP26 fails.

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Wera Hobhouse on 100 days to COP26

Yesterday, MPs debated COP26 Conference Priorities in a Westminster Hall debate. The debate was co-sponsored by Wera Hobhouse. Lib Dem MP for Bath. She said this is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the 2015 Paris agreement, after which we have had a “string of incredibly disappointing COPs”. Wera called for the government to get its own house in order instead of paying to lip service to climate change. The Government has failed to set any direction on how to heat homes in the future, how to expand the electricity grid for increased electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

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COP26 will fail unless we grant it the powers of a supra-national council

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H.G. Wells’ ‘end of the world’ fantasy saw civilisation saved by a friendly virus, but in 1951 a new type of apocalyptic fantasy appeared in cinema screens.  In The Day the Earth Stood Still humanity was given an ultimatum: put aside petty squabbles and come together, or be annihilated.  Michael Rennie’s authoritarian ‘alien’ was clearly a depiction of human reason triumphing over the insanity of armed conflict, and the film reflected the founding principle of the United Nations; endless wars were the problem the human race faced.

We are now living the reality, and the problem isn’t wars.  We face the end not only of human civilisation but of much of the natural world, and one of the millions of species headed for extinction could be our own.  However, the message of hope from 1951 is as powerful as it was then.  By uniting behind a single purpose, the concerted efforts of the human race could overcome the challenges we face.  We don’t have the stern, but kind-hearted, alien laying down the law, so what we need instead is a world council tasked with creating a survival plan, and empowered to enforce it.

We already have the UN, but that was created after the horrors of World War II, and felt its first duty was to render impossible future invasions and annexations, so its founders sought to guarantee the sovereign right of countries to be free from the fear of invasion.  Individual national sovereignty is an idea which is now hopelessly out of date, and it has become positively harmful.

Climate summit meetings still accept that each country has a right to act as it will within its own borders.  They try to achieve consensus about what each can realistically do about climate change, but those that don’t want to sign up don’t have to.  Sovereignty is a meaningless luxury when the damage to the environment affects the entire world, and sovereignty was probably always a delusion (Imagined Communities,  Benedict Anderson, 1983), with the lines on today’s maps mostly just the residue of past wars and arranged marriages.

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