The stakes (and tensions) are high this week as the COP26 climate summit kicks off in Glasgow. Big issues, like renewable energy and biodiversity, are being discussed on a global scale, and while there are huge issues to tackle, there are also reasons to be optimistic. Just the fact that world leaders are gathering to commit to a more sustainable future is already a step in the right direction. Here are five other reasons to be optimistic about COP26.
The US is once again a participant
COP25 was marred by the US’ former president’s refusal to attend, raising questions about the potential for global action without the participation of the world’s second largest emitter. Fortunately, the US is back in the Paris agreement and in attendance this year. The country has also partnered with the EU to establish the Global Methane Pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 percent this decade.
Coal is on the way out
Coal is the single biggest contributor to manmade climate change, but the UK is on track to phase out coal by October 2024, providing a model for how other countries could do so as well. The No New Coal Compact, proposed by the UN General Assembly, has also been agreed to by Sri Lanka, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Montenegro, France, and the UK. Although coal is still growing in China, India, and Indonesia, these declines in other large countries are a promising sign.
Fossil fuel companies face stronger opposition
COP26 leadership has only accepted corporate sponsors with plans in place to achieve net-zero by 2050, excluding fossil fuel companies like BP and Shell who have a history of greenwashing their business operations. The conference also banned companies which “contribute towards catastrophic climate change” from using council-owned premises during the conference.
Global climate consciousness continues to grow
The Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, run by the COP26 Coalition, is expected to gather 100,000 people in Glasgow on Nov 6 to show support for global climate action. More and more people, especially from younger generations, are calling for stricter emissions reductions measures both at a governmental and corporate level, as well as in their personal lives.
Even small victories count
The Paris agreement seeks to limit global warming to 1.5C, but even a 0.1C reduction in warming makes a difference in the global experience of climate change. Full mitigation of climate change will take enormous effort, but every closed coal plant, new wind turbine, and green energy innovation makes a difference!