IGP Stories

COP26: Transformation requires much bolder thinking

Climate Emergency

Professor Henrietta L Moore

29 November 2021

The climate crisis is a crisis of such depth and significance that it cuts through many ideas that have shaped the modern world, and calls for an unprecedented recalibration. We cannot deal with climate change without transforming our social, economic and political institutions to ones that place people and planet before growth at any cost.

Our prosperity today and that of future generations depends on safeguarding, managing and regenerating the natural resources and biodiversity of our planet.

26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties

The UK has been hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31st October – 12th November. The talks have finished with all 197 countries agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact to keep 1.5°C alive and finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement. Under the Paris Agreement countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions. The aim of these pledges is to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees and to keep warming below 1.5°C. The Paris commitments did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

The Glasgow Climate Pact is a significant achievement and not the turning point on climate action that people had hoped for. The fact that nearly 200 countries signed the climate change agreement after two weeks of negotiations is a success. However, the new commitments fail to pledge the necessary sweeping and immediate cuts to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The latest UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2021 shows that new national climate pledges combined with other mitigation measures put the world on track for a global temperature rise of 2.7°C by the end of the century. To keep global warming below 1.5°C this century, the world needs to put additional policies and action in place to almost halve annual greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years. The final Cop26 decision text notes that the current national climate plans are far from what is needed for 1.5°C and countries are being asked to come back next year with updated plans to strengthen their 2030 commitments.

There were a number of individual areas which moved forward including the pledge by more than 100 national leaders to stop deforestation and begin restoring the world's forests by 2030. Greater recognition of the role of communities and indigenous peoples is also now at the core of the agreement – it is not just about governments and big industry. Emphasis has been placed on the need for nature-based solutions to protect and restore nature and ecosystems to achieve 1.5°C, the work to be undertaken on a global adaptation goal, the new balancing of adaptation and mitigation financing, the phasing-out of inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies and the inclusion of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases including methane.

Our institutions are organised or designed for the scale of the transition we face and need to make. COP26 produced many important initiatives, but all of them contained within the existing frameworks and designed to maintain them. Transformation requires much bolder thinking. Redesigning prosperity for the 21st century involves rethinking our relationship to value, collaboration and delivery. This COP 26 did not do.

IGP's commitment to the environment and sustainability

The IGP recognises the interdependence of the natural and human worlds and the urgent need to develop social, economic and political institutions that deliver planetary regeneration and resilience. It is working to co-create these networks, ideas, policies and organisations that will carry us towards a better future. The IGP involves citizens and communities in research processes in order to foreground local knowledge and voices in the identification and analysis of problems and the designing of solutions. It is committed to understanding, enhancing and supporting local knowledge in the creation of climate adaptation strategies. Through mechanisms and projects such as the Prosperity Index, Citizen Science Research, Prosperity Co-Labs and the Transforming Tomorrow Initiative, the IGP aims to look beyond the status quo and design long term futures with people and planet squarely in the fore.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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