13 min

COP26 – progress or just more blah, blah, blah‪?‬ Helm Talks Podcast

    • Business

Is COP26 the “real deal”, marking the point when we “turned the corner” on climate change, or is it what Greta Thunberg calls “blah, blah, blah”? To succeed, COP26 would need to slow down and stop the increase in carbon in the atmosphere – something all the previous COPs have failed to do. For the last 30 wasted years, that concentration has gone up by roughly 2 parts per million per year, including last year, despite the great coronavirus lockdowns.

COP26 is all about territorial carbon production emissions; it does nothing about carbon consumption, the real carbon footprints. That’s why deindustrialising, service-based economies like the UK look good, and yet still cause climate change by importing emissions and then not counting them. The world cannot wait for China (representing nearly 30% of global emissions) to peak in a decade’s time and then take another 30 years to reach “carbon neutrality”. To avoid 3˚C warming, and unilaterally stop causing climate change, the targets should be on carbon consumption, include imports, cover agriculture as well as heating and transport. We would also need to have a much bigger fiscal transfer to the developing countries. Simply setting net zero territorial targets, and mostly for 2050, is not enough, and risks the world moving on after December to other things, as it did after Copenhagen, Durban and Paris.

Is COP26 the “real deal”, marking the point when we “turned the corner” on climate change, or is it what Greta Thunberg calls “blah, blah, blah”? To succeed, COP26 would need to slow down and stop the increase in carbon in the atmosphere – something all the previous COPs have failed to do. For the last 30 wasted years, that concentration has gone up by roughly 2 parts per million per year, including last year, despite the great coronavirus lockdowns.

COP26 is all about territorial carbon production emissions; it does nothing about carbon consumption, the real carbon footprints. That’s why deindustrialising, service-based economies like the UK look good, and yet still cause climate change by importing emissions and then not counting them. The world cannot wait for China (representing nearly 30% of global emissions) to peak in a decade’s time and then take another 30 years to reach “carbon neutrality”. To avoid 3˚C warming, and unilaterally stop causing climate change, the targets should be on carbon consumption, include imports, cover agriculture as well as heating and transport. We would also need to have a much bigger fiscal transfer to the developing countries. Simply setting net zero territorial targets, and mostly for 2050, is not enough, and risks the world moving on after December to other things, as it did after Copenhagen, Durban and Paris.

13 min

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