The World Today for November 17, 2021

NEED TO KNOW

Cold Truths, Hot Air

WORLD

World leaders, diplomats, environmentalists and fossil fuel industry executives who attended the COP26 climate change summit were tasked with forging an agreement to save the planet. In the end, they created a new deal that broke new ground in that it illustrated a worldwide consensus to transition away from fossil fuels and to speed up countries’ ambitions to cut emissions faster, NPR reported.

American and Chinese leaders also revealed a surprise deal, for example, to expand their ambitions in curbing climate change. As CNN reported, China would reduce methane emissions under the agreement while both countries would cooperate more closely on the issue. India announced that its economy would be carbon neutral by 2070, a goal that CNBC believed was possible. The European Union promised an additional $110 billion to help countries transition to less carbon-intensive economies.

Still, many countries did not agree to rein in emissions fast enough for the world to avoid the worst damage from climate-driven bouts of extreme weather. Emissions need to fall around 45 percent by 2030 to give the world a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Instead, they’re expected to rise almost 14 percent over the next nine years.

Meanwhile, as the summit concluded, Climate Action Tracker experts released findings that suggested that COP26 attendees had in fact wildly undershot the mark. The research concluded that the world was going to warm by 2.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100, or much more than the 1.5 degrees Celsius benchmark used for them to set their targets in negotiations.

The rise in temperatures is unprecedented and explained through carbon emissions in the past 150 years, Phys.org added.

“With one sharp jab, this Climate Action Tracker report has punctured the balloon of optimism that’s been swelling since the start of this conference,” wrote BBC environment correspondent Matt McGrath.

Eighteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg declared COP26 a “failure” and “greenwash festival,” for appearing to care or take action to preserve the environment without really doing anything substantive, Democracy Now! reported. Thunberg and other young activists planned to petition the United Nations Secretary-General to declare a worldwide emergency, according to the Guardian.

Remarkably, Reuters added that many COP26 participants privately agreed with Thunberg. And even though they know that massive investments are necessary to meaningfully curb greenhouse gases, those investments aren’t necessarily forthcoming, especially while fossil fuels remain profitable.

Temperatures rising 1.5 degrees Celsius more than pre-industrial levels will kill off coral reefs, stoke more powerful storms, cause terrible droughts, melt ice packs and raise seawater levels, and alter weather patterns and flora and fauna worldwide, National Public Radio explained.

Meanwhile, a study released last Tuesday by the Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, found that 1 billion people could face heat stress, a potentially fatal combination of heat and humidity if temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius.

Hot air is the last thing that future generations need.

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