The conferences in Kyoto and Paris, remember them? Kyoto was meant to enshrine in International law global resposibilty for climate regulation. Paris on the other hand recognised that The Kyoto treaty was multinational and meant to be binding on all the signatories but since 1997 the enforcement of Kyoto had become hopelessly complicated and illusary. So in Paris, lower thresholds were set enshring a much more acceptable compromise; Nationally Determined Contributions.
Fundamentally, despite a dawning realisation that the whole world faces the same threat, these NDC’s have allowed countries to persue whatever energy policies they see as to their advatage. The panoply of widely diverse scenarios is mindboggling, some, if not all understandable. However the consequences are dire. The COP’s have signally failed to produce a model of global governance that can counter power politics, let alone share a sense of a common destiny.
Examples of the political shinnanikins, include Brazil trying to get paid to decrease deforestation, President Xi arguing its not his turn to do his bit and should not be seen as the same as developed economies, who got rich before China, on the back of industrial polution. Mr Putin will not turn up at all..
What to do? How can we ensure firstly that we all see the common threat of climate change. There are glimpses that this happening and that the jamboree in Glasgow is at least, furthering that realisation. But it is all for nothing, if there is not a common agenda shared by all. This aspiration, for it still is just that, is not being improved by the richer nations having reneged on their promise to put up $100mn for poorer countries to arm themselves against climate change. What message does that send?
The problem extends beyong UN climate change conferences. Whilst globalisation has liften millions out of poverty, it ha s fueled increasing concentrations of wealth. The poor and the rich have very different ideas and aspirations, because actions on climate change have very different rewards for the rich or the poor. Hence the politics of power and envy all mitigate against agreement. Since Paris and the NDC’s the world has failed miserably to contain the climate change challenge. Already we are way behind on the challenge to contain global warmimg to 1.5 dgrees.
The answer is not that somebody else will fix the problem, climate change is above all a common problem – the world is burning and flooding! Unless there is a international binding treaty based on science COP26 will just be another talking shop.