1.COP26 Glasgow Update
On YouTube, I watched the entire two hours of the opening ceremony of COP26 in Glasgow on November 1. There were very inspiring speeches by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Sir Richard Attenborough, interspersed with eye opening messages from people around the world and the scope of worsening climate related disasters. I also listened to an inspiring ten minute speech by President Joe Biden about all of the exciting jobs and business opportunities up ahead for the US and the world if it engages in the climate transition. If inspiring speeches would do it we would have been home by now!!
The big problem is that a major part of world is not at the table or not committing to reducing emissions immediately. This includes nations such as Russia, China, Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Canada. Some of these nations have done green policies within their nations but export fossil fuels (Big oil exporters like Saudi Arabia and small oil exporters like Norway). Russia is not even attending, even remotely.
The four major things that COP26 needs are China to agree to start reducing emissions, a global agreement to start transitioning out of coal, enough financing to help developing nations and an increase in the INDCs by nations (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – started at Paris – only 110 nations have submitted these). All of these look highly unlikely.
On Day 2 (November 2), India surprised by announcing that it would achieve net zero by 2070. However, Prime Minister Modi did announce that for 2030 the targets were 500 GW (Giga watts) of non-fossil fuel energy, 50% renewable energy use, carbon emissions down significantly and carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP, Gross Development Product) down by 45%.
Espen BarthHeide, the Norway Minister of Climate & Environment (of the new government that was less than three weeks in place), while talking to Bloomberg, stated that Norway was committed to a future “Sustainable and Circular Economy”. Norway will strive to do everything internally to achieve a green, 100% renewable energy economy. Norway’s oil exports were driven by external demand, but that Norway would do everything it can to help its oil customers also transition. Although renewable energy was the lowest in cost, it did need an up-front investment, and that that is what developing nations needed.
Then, about 80 nations signed up to a “Methane Pact” to reduce their methane gas emissions (that come from livestock, rice, landfills and oil and gas production. This is significant since we all know that methane gas has a global warming potential (GWP) that is 80 times that of carbon dioxide or CO2 (over a 20 year period) – or it traps 80 times more heat than CO2.
Also, noteworthy was the announcement that about 100 nations (including Brazil) had signed up to a pledge to halt deforestation by 2030. Past agreements to do this have not worked, but this time it was said that there was going to be action to reduce the incentives for deforestation -which came from cattle, soya beans, cocoa and palm oil.
The author Dr. Hari Lamba, has experience in engineering, business and ecology. He has a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with about 40 years of experience in industry, both in engineering product development and in advanced technology.