For anyone who didn’t manage to watch the COP26 climate talks in the Scottish capital over the weekend, the outcome was anything but hopeful.
With the world now only 12 years away from the ‘Paris Agreement’ deadline of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, many were looking to the meeting for any sign of the world leaders and diplomats keeping their word.
READ MORE: COP26 – An historic opportunity missed
With good reason. Every year that passes by without major action to tackle climate change is a disaster. According to the World Bank, by 2050 the global economy will have to change by an average of between seven and 13 per cent if we are to keep temperatures below 1.5°C.
A new report out on Monday calculates this means global GDP could fall by up to 13 per cent – that’s billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. But if we can’t stop warming from increasing by more than 1.5°C, then our planet is in real danger.
So it was not surprising that there was a palpable sense of disappointment as the UN failed to reach a new agreement, or any meaningful targets, despite the fact that the world faces a 2°C scenario.
It’s no wonder people were furious at the way COP delegates only managed to agree in principle to a long-term goal of keeping warming below 1.5°C. However, that does not mean the job of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions isn’t important.
For example, recently the Daily Mail published a story which mentioned the CO2 reduction target of “around” 40 per cent by 2030 in the Paris Agreement.
This was not a typo or a mistaken translation. And it’s not even the worst thing that happened at COP26. Instead, COP delegates failed to include an explicit target for ending fossil fuel subsidies.
This will cost the world $700 billion a year by 2030, according to a new study from the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Even when the report compared the cost of ending the subsidies to the Paris Agreement’s financial pledges, it estimates that ending them would actually lower world GDP by 3.7 per cent over the same period.
READ MORE: COP26 – We’ve set the world on a path to catastrophic climate change
This may not sound like a lot in dollar terms, but as things stand, we are on a self-perpetuating spiral in which developing countries are undercutting the world’s developed world.
So the question is, what we can do about this?
It’s true that governments around the world are in the process of agreeing to introduce more stringent rules on polluting fossil fuel projects.
However, in many places, these rules aren’t being implemented quickly enough. While individual countries may have developed legally binding carbon targets, they need to be implemented in a way that’s both technically feasible and economically feasible.
We urgently need to make sure developing countries are given the right incentives to clean up their own coal and oil infrastructure.
READ MORE: COP26 – Scotland’s new forestry plans risk tipping the net completely in to the wrong direction
The challenge facing governments across the world will be determining how to create a system of incentives which actually incentivises users to make these changes.
Until this happens, we are only making our planet even more vulnerable to devastating weather events like floods, droughts and storms.
That’s why I went to COP26 and why I’m pushing for an even more ambitious and legally binding carbon pricing scheme in Scotland.
Glasgow is a fantastic place to be talking about climate change. Indeed, it’s one of the leading centres for the sector, which is transforming our economy, and is on the front line of the climate crisis.
That’s why it’s so important that everyone in Scotland continues to play their part in the fight to tackle climate change.