COP26 Special: Opportunities to save our planet

Posted: 22 November 2021, in News


In the context of the COP26 event in Glasgow and Climate Fringe we’ve been featuring green social enterprises. We’ll be continuing this with the ongoing #GreenSocEnt campaign. This week we hear from You Can Cook – take part in the conversation on social media with the hashtags #GreenSocEnt and #COP26.

The biggest challenge facing the world is not climate change deniers but the rich western countries, corporations and politicians who have been catering to their local population and their ideologies. Many people in parts of America now don’t believe in climate change and that humans are the biggest contributing factor.

A lot of money has been spent over the years on refining buzz words and explaining technical jargon to market the impending climate catastrophe to the lay person, with many millions more spent to keep these updated, as new evidence becomes available. Below are a few examples of past government initiatives:

UNFCCC was The UN framework convention on climate change, which was signed in 1992 in Brazil, dubbed the Rio Earth summit. It binds all of the world’s nations – apart from a few countries – to “avoid dangerous climate change”. However, it did not set out in detail how to do so.

The Kyoto protocol was the first attempt in 1997 to turn the UNFCCC’s resolution into what came to be known as the Kyoto protocol. This set targets on emissions cuts for each developed country, stipulating a 5% cut in global greenhouse gases overall by 2012. Developing countries, including China, were allowed to increase their emissions. 

But the protocol immediately ran into trouble when the US, which signed the treaty under Bill Clinton, could not ratify it owing to opposition in Congress. The protocol eventually came into force without US backing, in 2005, but by then was largely irrelevant, so countries set out on the long journey to a new treaty that would fulfil the UNFCCC aims, resulting eventually in the 2015 Paris accord.

The Paris Agreement in December 2015 was where developed and developing nations came together to limit greenhouse gases. The main goal of the Paris agreement was to limit global heating to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, while “pursuing efforts” to stay within the lower, safer threshold of 1.5C. Countries set out targets to stay within those limits, in the form of nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

The most vague and ambiguous one is NDC – Nationally Determined Contribution. Every country signed this as part of their target to reduce greenhouse gasses by around 2030. The Paris accord contains a mechanism by which every country must improve its target every five years, so the next NDC’s will be submitted by December 2030. Many countries have yet to submit their first five-year targets, as they were due in December 2020 but delayed due to Covid-19. Here’s hoping this data becomes fully available in the context of COP26.

Billionaires should be focusing their massive wealth on saving our planet first before trying to inhabit other planets to repeat the same mistakes. Fingers crossed, the COP26 pledges will turn out to be a success – as pressure is mounting on world leaders to act now.

Bosco Santimano, You Can Cook