What we really needed at COP26

COP26 in Perthshire for the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference is an important endeavour to the future of energy and climate change.

Unfortunately, the COP26 in Glasgow was a bust. For the worst offenders are the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Japan, Australia, Japan, China, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Japan, Maldives, Fiji, Tonga, and the Netherlands. What we actually had in Perthshire was an gathering of seven people ― all of whom have a share in the responsibility for the climate disaster.

The least leaders should come and learn that renewable energy creates new jobs and new revenue. It is based on clean and low carbon energy from the sun, the wind, the ground, the oceans, and forests. This is possible through the lifting of the private sector investment barrier. It is the link that everyone needs to understand, especially if there is going to be global cooperation on the climate issue.

These seven nations need to learn that climate change is happening and they need to change their policies to address it. The US has only 10% of the global population, and yet it supports a whole range of fossil fuel projects. They need to change their policies on climate change and make it good for the world.

China is one of the worst carbon emitters and is the second-largest owner of the world’s coal reserves, yet it is setting global emissions targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Pakistan is the 17th-largest emitter of CO2 and was devastated by the floods of 2010. Now Pakistan is continuing to be ravaged by climate disasters. And Japan is involved in deforestation, desertification, and desertification ― because it likes to pump out greenhouse gases. If the world’s richest and third-most populous nations don’t use energy and take more responsibility for the climate emergency, what hope is there for the rest of the world?

Australia still has its new coal mine approvals, which would reduce the Great Barrier Reef and release 20 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. China is building the largest offshore oil and gas rig in the Western hemisphere because it wants to build more gas and coal plants. The Netherlands is going forward with its newest coal-fired power station. Japan wants to build coal fired power plants, especially to provide clean energy to Taiwan.

The world needs to come together to save the planet from climate change, and then it needs to work together to bring about a safe and sustainable future. We cannot afford to fail. There is nothing more terrible than failing on the climate issue. The stakes are too high.

It is time to set aside political games and focus on making real progress. We have a lot to do, especially around sea level rise. We need to engage our citizens and get them engaged with us and our solutions. The march toward greater coordination of efforts to address climate change, especially in the area of transportation, can only be encouraged by the world meeting in Africa.

To make the COP26 in Perthshire a bust we need to give them a massive cheer and then make the case that the time for a progressive transition to low carbon and a safer climate is now.

Global citizens should give each and every representative at COP26 a one-hour talk about climate and how it is impacting us. We need a tipping point, a watershed moment where politicians understand they are part of a job to make things right.

COP26 should just be a failure, and so the frustration that came out of the Perthshire event needs to translate into meaningful actions ― very meaningful actions.

Andy Atkins is director of the UK campaign group 350.org. Leigh Macmillan is Climate Change campaigner for 350.org.

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