Here’s a glimpse into our future lives, some ways in which the decisions made at COP26 could change our every day life in the next 10-15 years, as written by Helen Briggs, the BBC Environment Correspondent. Even though it is a British perspective, it seems to have universal application. One spokesperson she interviews predicts we can expect an overall happier and healthier lifestyle in future.
In the second half of the blog we summarize the key pledges made at COP26 and take a look at Canada’s commitments.
A change in the way we get around…..
“Switching to an electric car is among a number of lifestyle changes we’re likely to be making. Experts predict that new electric vehicles could cost the same as new gas or diesel cars within the next five years. It is also possible to lease an electric vehicle, and there’s a growing second-hand market, where these vehicles are cheaper. Dozens of countries, regions and car companies have agreed to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and bring in new zero-emission buses and trucks. Meanwhile, others argue we need fewer cars on the road – walking and cycling more could also be among the changes we make.”
A switch to greener power…..
“More than 40 countries have signed up to phasing out coal. A similar number have committed to ensuring that clean energy is the most reliable and affordable option for powering our homes and businesses. For countries like the UK, this will mean continuing the move towards renewable sources such as wind and solar energy – and possibly more reliance on nuclear energy. It’s hoped the announcements made at Glasgow will send a signal to the market that it is worth investing in renewable energy.”
Our homes get greener…..
“Solar panels and heat pumps could become standard in our homes. We’ll build new houses using low-carbon alternatives to cement and concrete – and try to re-fit old ones. There’s also a focus on making sure our buildings, infrastructure and communities are able to withstand the current and future impact of climate change.
Eva Hinkers, Arup Sustainable Development Director says: “We also need to make sure [buildings] are fit for more extreme scenarios.” This could include improving green space in and around our homes to absorb extreme rainfall, installing “cool roofs” that reflect sunlight and prevent overheating, or introducing shutters so homes can withstand hurricane winds.”
We may start paying more for carbon…..
“Our lifestyles contribute to carbon emissions, whether we’re shopping for imported food, or flying away on a foreign holiday. In future, we may see the cost of a product’s carbon emissions being added to the price we pay – wherever it is made. So if a business doesn’t try and reduce the emissions of the goods it’s selling, its prices may have to go up. It’s hoped that will make consumers and businesses think again about how we consume and where we put our money. In response to this, some big household names like Amazon, Unilever and Ikea have now said they’re looking to ensure the cargo ships they use to deliver goods will run on cleaner fuel.”
More space for nature…..
“Nature’s role in fighting climate change and the need to restore the natural world – from forests to peatland – was high on the agenda at Glasgow, and we may see the benefits in greener spaces around our towns and cities. “Nature can be helping us here if we looked to actually treat it with the respect it deserves,” says Dr Emily Shukburgh of the University of Cambridge. The arguments to make space for nature are now clearer and louder than ever, says Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts. “There is now renewed momentum about the need to… protect forests and other precious habitats and put nature in recovery.””
More expensive food…..
“Breaking the link between cutting down forests in the global south and products consumed in the global north, such as soybeans, beef and palm oil, could end the era of cheap food. Experts say that a hard choice could be faced – deforestation will never be stopped if sustainability concerns are always out-competed by price: “Consumers will inevitably have to absorb some of these costs if we want to deliver on the COP 26 declaration – by paying more and consuming less,” says Toby Gardner of the Stockholm Environment Institute.”
Your pension and investments could be moving…..
“More than 400 financial institutions – controlling an estimated $130tn of private finance – agreed at COP26 to provide more money for green technology. It means that many major pension providers are going to be looking at investing your money in more environmentally friendly sectors. This might include “helping our customers identify ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes… investing in companies developing new, sustainable ways of living and working,” says Janet Pope of Lloyds Banking Group.”
A change of thinking…..
“We may also witness a shift in our way of thinking. Dr Stephanie Sodero of the University of Manchester says the goal of sticking to 1.5 degrees – above which scientists say climate impacts will become more dangerous and unpredictable – could galvanise community action. “On the ground, in UK communities and beyond, led by youth activists, I think there will be sustained and intense pressure to scrutinize all governance decisions – from local transport to national energy – through a climate lens,” she says. Matthew Hannon from the University of Strathclyde says the drive to net zero is likely to yield benefits such as cleaner air, quieter streets and better mental and physical health. “Delivering a just, net zero transition should ultimately result in happier, healthier lifestyles,” he says. “The question should therefore be less about what will I lose under net zero and more about what could I gain?”“
Key Outcomes of the COP26
1. Pledge to End Deforestation By 2030:
“Already 137 countries committed to end deforestation by 2030 in a move to protect the world’s forests. Amongst the signatories are Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Indonesia, Russia and the U.S., with more than US$19 billion in private and public funds pledged towards the plan. Germany, Norway, the U.S. and the U.K. led an approximately US$1.7-billion funding pledge to be given directly to Indigenous Peoples and communities in recognition of their role in protecting the land and forests as part of the wider deforestation pledge. If this promise is kept it would be one of the biggest achievements of COP26.”
2. Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Pledge:
“Another agreement announced at COP26 saw 23 new countries (46 in total so far including Canada) make pledges to phase out coal power entirely by 2040. Clause 3 is a promise “to stop new construction for any planned coal plants which have not already achieved financial closure”. The signatories to the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement did not include China, India and the U.S., but the agreement does include some other large coal users like Indonesia, Ukraine and South Korea. Canada also committed a Billion dollars to help other countries wean themselves off coal and reiterated an election promise to end exports of thermal coal by 2030.
The U.S., Britain, France and Germany announced a plan to provide US$8.5 billion in loans and grants over five years to help South Africa phase out coal, as they get about 90 per cent of their electricity from coal-fired plants, a major emissions source.”
3. Green Investing Pledge:
“Banks, insurers and investors represented by UN climate envoy Mark Carney, who assembled the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero pledged on Wednesday to put combating climate change at the centre of their work and promised efforts to make green investing a priority. Carney put the figure at $100 trillion over the next three decades from the finance industry.”
4. Pledge to Stop Public Financing of Coal/Gas/Oil:
“Canada, the U.S. the U.K. and 27 other countries joined a deal to stop new direct public financing for coal, oil and gas development by the end of 2022 and to shift investment to renewable energy. It commits signatories to stop using loans, loan guarantees, grants, share purchases and insurance coverage from any government or government agency to finance new international fossil fuel developments. The deal does not include China, Japan or Korea, who are the world’s top fossil fuel funders besides Canada, which averages about $13.6 billion a year on financing fossil fuels, almost all of which flow through the federal crown corporation Export Development Canada. This is the first time that countries are really acknowledging that public financing oil and gas is a problem.”
5. Global Methane Pledge:
“So far, 108 nations, including the US and the EU, have signed up to this initiative, which aims to reduce human-caused methane emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030. That will require tighter controls on gas well and pipes, as well as actions on livestock and municipal landfills. Climate Action Tracker says these commitments are likely to reduce emissions by about 0.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That figure will increase as more countries sign up. It does not include China’s plan, made after this Pledge, to reduce its methane output. Canada has previously committed to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas to 75% below 2012 levels by 2030, but has yet to say how it will meet its targets.”
6. Canada Pledges to Limit Biodiversity Loss:
“Trudeau received international praise when he told COP26 that Canada will impose a cap on oil and gas sector emissions “today” to ensure they decrease “tomorrow” at a pace and scale needed to reach net-zero by 2050. So far the government has not said how this will work.”
7. Canada Calls for Global Carbon Tax:
“Trudeau made a major contribution at COP26 when he showed leadership and urged all countries to impose a global price on carbon that would cover 60% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions (currently at 20%) . There are 64 carbon-pricing policies around the world. Though several European countries are on board, it is a tough set without the support of beg emitters like the USA and China.”
8. Canada Joins Commitment to Zero-Emissions Cars and Trucks:
“A memorandum of understanding was signed by 15 countries including Canada working toward 100% zero-emission cars and trucks by 2040 or earlier, or by no later than 2035 in leading markets. They pledged there would be 30% zero-emission vehicles by 2030, which is a new pledge from Canada. Unfortunately several of the major auto manufacturing countries did not sign.”
9. Canada Coordinates Climate Finance Delivery Plan:
“Only 80% of the US$100billion promised by 2020 has been delivered to help developing countries mitigate their emissions and adapt to climate change. Essentially these funds are more than 2 years delayed. These “climate reparations” or this “solidarity fund” acknowledges that the green house gas emissions produced predominantly by rich countries has indirectly caused poor countries to suffer loss and damage. The Climate Finance Delivery Plan, compiled by the German and Canadian Governments at the request of the UK as host of COP26, projects that more than $100billion would be provided from 2023 to 2025.”
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