The UK is running its Cop26 presidency from within the Cabinet Office, under the leadership of the former business secretary Alok Sharma, who is the Cop26 president, and the former CEO of We Mean Business, a climate change action organisation, Nigel Topping who was appointed the government’s high-level climate action champion last year. Sponsorship is expected to help defray a policing bill estimated to reach up to £250m.
For the 26th time leaders of the most important countries are going to put the heads together to discuss how to continue to look at mother earth, under the sponsorship of some very big companies, including energy giants Hitachi Ltd, National Grid, Scottish Power and SSE, US tech titan Microsoft Corp., and FTSE companies GSK, NatWest, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s and Unilever. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, shall be the 16th meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP16), and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA3).
Many environmental organisations are seriously hoping the talks will lead this time to a real involvement because it is the last chance to put the world on track to meet its climate ambitions. though the danger (we fear) is that organisers of Cop26 promised sponsors an “outstanding opportunity” and “unique benefits” in exchange for their support, including a chance to promote their brands at the conference “green zone” exhibition space and the participation of government ministers at their events.
At the beginning of this month, the UK Treasury warned of serious economic damage to the UK economy and future tax rises if the UK overspends on, or misdirects, green investment. The Treasury sees also a danger that economic activity could move abroad if firms will find their costs are increasing by more than those of their overseas competitors. On the risk of additional costs to companies from green initiatives, the documents say:
“Climate action in the UK can lead to economic activity moving abroad if it directly leads to costs increasing, and it is more profitable to produce in countries with less stringent climate policies.”
Lots of people are also afraid that what the documents say about moving towards net zero, shall be felt in our purse by a tax rise.
“The government may need to consider changes to existing taxes and new sources of revenue throughout the transition in order to deliver net zero sustainably, and consistently with the government’s fiscal principles.”
the papers say.
On the costs of moving towards net zero, the OBR said in its report:
“Between now and 2050 the fiscal costs of getting to net zero in the UK could be significant, but they are not exceptional … While unmitigated climate change would spell disaster, the net fiscal costs of moving to net zero emissions by 2050 could be comparatively modest.”
The Committee on Climate Change, the government’s statutory adviser, has also repeatedly said the costs of action are small and diminishing, at less than 1% of GDP by 2050, while the costs of inaction are large and rising.
While there are concerns over how the costs could fall on poorer households, the CCC chief executive Chris Stark has made clear that ministers can choose to distribute the costs and benefits fairly, through the design of green policies.
Last Friday, the UN body on climate change said that collective pledges would not help the world meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to less disastrous levels unless the collective emission reduction target is substantially upgraded, based on an analysis of countries’ climate action commitments to date. The world has to know it is high time to take action, and it is not just anymore about promising things and not keeping to it. Despite the fact that the world would need to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 to 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 to meet the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius, current pledges from all countries combined would only reduce emissions by around 12 percent during that time.
“The total global GHG emission level in 2030 is expected to be 16.3 percent higher than the 2010 level, taking into consideration the implementation of all the newest NDCs,”
the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said in its synthesis report on nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are national climate plans that detail countries’ actions to mitigate climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
In the corridors, it is said that the Treasury is “kicking back” against many of the green plans being advanced by No 10 and Kwarteng.
“They are not climate change deniers but they are emphasising the short-term risks, rather than long-term needs, which is what we are emphasising.”
In contrast to the Treasury’s caution, Labour committed at its recent party conference to invest £28bn extra every year until 2030 to secure a “green transition” creating good jobs with decent wages in the process.
The row over the government’s handling of Cop26 planning has emerged amid public order concerns, with up to 150,000 protesters expected to take to Glasgow’s streets in early November alongside the crucial climate talks, which will require one of the largest policing operations ever undertaken in Britain.
Countries and organisations planning to host events have also said they fear that increased costs will cause problems for developing nations.
What we have seen at previous conferences and which could happen here again is that companies are more concerned of their branding, getting their name in the press, than getting the best for climate.
Event spaces for hosting workshops, panel discussions and keynote speeches during the conference do not come cheap. A Cop26 spokesperson said the organisers were “working closely” with sponsors which would increase the value-for-money for taxpayers, and reduce the overall financial cost of Cop26.
After the previous conferences we could see that the world is far from meeting the level of ambition required to prevent the worst climate outcomes. Contrary to some reports during the height of the Covid pandemic the pace of climate change has not been slowed by COVID-19 and that the world remains locked in the battle to urgently cut its emissions.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) explained that the economic downturn brought on by nationwide lockdowns only caused a temporary downturn in emissions and was not enough to reverse the rising levels of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the atmosphere.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said:
“This is a critical year for climate action,”
warning that we are at an
“alarming appraisal of just how far off course we are.”
When we may have seen fossil fuel emissions to bounce back, greenhouse gas concentrations are continuing to rise. Nobody can neglect that global warming is causing severe human-enhanced weather events that have affected health, lives and livelihoods on every continent.
The UN said that the concentrations in the atmosphere of the major GHG which are CO2, methane and nitrous oxide continued to rise in 2020. During the first half of 2021, the average global temperature was now inching closer towards the 1.5C target at 1.06C to 1.26C above pre-industrial levels. We have to face it that there is now a 40% chance that the average global temperature within the next five years will be at least 1.5C warmer than at pre-industrial levels.
“Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5C will be impossible, with catastrophic consequences for people and the planet on which we depend.”
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