COP26 stands for Conference of the Parties, which are the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 2021 meeting will be the 26th meeting. Initially, it was due to take place in Glasgow in Scotland in November 2020, but it was postponed for a year because of the COVID19 pandemic.
During COP26 governments will demonstrate their commitment by showing how they will keep global temperature rises below 1.5ºC, deliver money promised to countries on the front-lines of the climate crisis, and shift away from fossil fuels.
So far and after the Paris Agreement little has been done in order to reduce greenhouse emissions. The pressure governments receive is even greater than before because the climate crisis is already unfolding in front of your eyes as more and more people demand actions.
Many people with a lack of understanding for the term global warming just believe that some seasons will be warmer, so what! The term global warming has indeed misled the population for many years as it doesn’t describe the real scenarios of the alteration of the climate on a global scale. Today, there are many terms available trying to describe and help people understand better the severeness of the issue.
Climate change describes a change in the average meteorological conditions — like temperature and rainfall — in areas over a long period of time. These changes have chain reactions to the ecosystem, for example, flowers and plants blooming times has shift affecting the harvesting of food.
Climate crisis is a term describing global warming and climate change and focuses on the consequences. The term has been used to describe the threat of global warming to the planet, and to urge aggressive climate change mitigation. The word “Climate Crisis” impacts people more than the term climate change. Temperatures are rising worldwide due to greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) trapping more heat in the atmosphere and leading to other chain reactions like severe tropical storms, extreme droughts around the world, torrential rain, the melting permafrost, and ice caps, and sea levels rising.
Climate action describes the fact that we need to step up our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Earth is now about 1.2ºC warmer than it was in the 19th Century, and the amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere has risen by 50 percent.
In a recent TED Talk, climate scientist Ilissa Ocko proposed a few super easy and effective solutions to reduce methane emissions. Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide, as a result, it is more efficient at trapping sun radiation. One of the solutions Dr. Ilissa proposed is to fix leakage from the extraction of “natural” gas. “We have the technology to cut the majority of these emissions with around half for no net cost because the saved gas can be sold”, says Dr. Ilissa.
Moving away from fossil fuels is another area where governments need to focus on their attention. Emission from coal plants worldwide is still a huge issue and countries like India and China still burn coal like crazy for energy production. Here in Europe, we also rely a lot on “natural” gas and other fossil fuels for energy production which is a huge mistake if we want a sustainable climate and the the best possible ambient air quality. Keep in mind, when we burn fossil fuels of any kind (gas, liquid, and solid) we also emit lots of air pollutants, like particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide among the most toxic for humans.
I don’t have kids but for those who have, I believe you have a double responsibility to ask your government to act today for a better future for them. Individually, we must also act by reducing our footprint, energy consumption, and mobility with conventional vehicles. It doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice convenience, but we need to shift to more sustainable alternatives like electric vehicles or electric scooters in a city where big SUVs don’t benefit anyone! Don’t burn wood or pellets, invest in solar energy and if you live on a coastline, the wind is always there for you.