CLIMATE CHANGE SUMMIT 2021
The Climate Change Summit took place in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12. The purpose of the summit was to discuss climate change on a global level and, more specifically, to assess ways of lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The summit is of great importance since we are at a critical point to address global warming and the failure to do so in the very near future could lead to severe, irreversible consequences for our planet.
Over 130 heads of government and thousands of diplomats attended the summit. In meetings over the two-week period, they formulated new targets for the reduction of emissions for each country. The new thresholds would require nations to greatly reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, the burning of which leads directly to the heating of the planet. Correspondingly, each nation would be required to increase their use of green energy sources, such as wind, solar, and geothermal heating.
While the majority of the countries attending the summit adopted new emissions-reducing standards, it is disconcerting that a number of the major industrial powers either failed to make any pledges or declared weak targets. For example, China, Australia, and Russia did not announce any new significant policies to cut their carbon emissions. In addition, although India pledged to significantly expand its renewable energy sector, it did not specify any programs to wean its economy off of coal, which to date is the key ingredient to powering its electric grid. Brazil, a major producer of carbon due its utilization of fossil fuels and the vast amount of deforestation in its jungle areas, made certain pronouncements, but the environmental community does not trust that its mercurial president, Jair Bolsonaro, will actually follow through on them. The above mentioned countries are some of the biggest polluters on the planet, so without their direct participation the global effort to reduce carbon emissions will be an uphill battle.
On the contrary, it was encouraging that the United States and Europe announced aggressive new policies to require their industries to convert to green energy in the near future. Although the conference is an annual event, this year it seemed more important than usual in light of a global increase in natural disasters, which are a direct result of climate change. The need for immediate action was also highlighted by scientists’ intense warnings. One warning stated that in order to avoid environmental disasters the world needs to ensure global temperatures do not rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-Industrial Revolution temperatures. The failure to do so will cause irreversible damage and put the existence of a large part of the world’s coastal communities at risk and make some countries inhabitable. The most clear message that came out of the Climate Change Summit is that the time to act is now. Delegate after delegate stated that we can no longer leave climate change to be remedied by future generations.