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collage from the scotsman . com to illustrate the beginning of COPT26

A 5 Minute Guide to COPT26

The reason for COPT26

What is COPT26 about? Global temperatures have risen by 1 degree Celsius since 1900 AD, due to the growing use of fossil fuels. As a result of the temperature increase, all across the world natural catastrophes have reached alarming rates. We can already imagine where the bush fires will rage next summer. Ice from the polar ice caps is detaching in great chunks, the sea level is rising, engulfing islands and coastal areas, and seas will continue to rise - even if net zero is achieved by 2050. Millions of people will be displaced and habitats obliterated.

The biodiversity of the planet is heavily impacted by humans, with nearly one million species of plants and animals becoming extinct. Without intervention, by the end of the century, temperatures would rise by 4.4 degrees or 5 degrees by 2100 and we’d have lost one million species. That’s a mass extinction event, entirely in our control and will also result in human starvation and misery.

The goal of countries attending COPT26 is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses to 1.5 degrees by 2050. To do this, half of the reduction must be in place by 2030. The fastest way to achieve the goal of net-zero is to end the production of fossil fuels and to use clean and safe technology such as wind, solar, ground source, air source and tidal energy. Unfortunately China, India, Brazil and Russia will be absent from the talks and the solutions are based on global cooperation.

Can climate change be averted?

Many researchers think that we can not turn off climate change that easily and that despite efforts, temperatures will increase by 2 degrees by 2030. The targets being discussed at COPT26 were set out in 2015 in the Paris Climate Agreement and a lot more research has been released since then to show that the current targets are inadequate. While it would be great if all countries could at least agree to the current unambitious targets – I do think that the goals the next COPT meeting, COPT27 should include updating and advancing the targets and bringing the countries who have excluded themselves back to the table.

A hot topic at COPT26

One of the key issues in this COPT26 is about carbon trading schemes, where polluting companies trade their carbon pollution - claiming to offset the harm caused by their processes, by planting trees. Carbon offsetting is just a ‘patch’ and it reduces the incentive for polluters to change. The so called ‘offsetting’ often takes place in distant lands. In my opinion, there is insufficient scrutiny and no accountability.

Yet, trees should be part of the solution as they can store carbon as well as providing us with an array of valuable resources, enriching our natural diversity. Why not make sure the offsetting from British companies goes to replanting and manage our hedges and forests here in the UK. They could provide natural assets that we, the people can account for, monitor and look after? We have one of the lowest levels of tree cover in Europe and our native wildlife is dwindling.

I don’t think COPT26 will come to the same conclusion as me on carbon offset schemes. But if you agree please share and quote me and link back to this page!

How can we slow down climate change and minimize our impact on biodiversity?

Work towards a net-zero home, net-zero at work. Get involved in your local community, being sure climate change is factored into decision making.

This is most often achieved with purchasing power, research and sound planning.

It can also help to get involved in one of the many local organisations which have nature at their centre. Your actions can have positive effect on the whole world.

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