The 26th edition of the Conference of the Parties(COP) to the UN Convention on Climate Change is underway at Glasgow. Experts say that the talks that started on October 31st could not have come at a more relevant time. A recent Science report published by the UN showed that the world is heating up at a faster rate than scientists had estimated before as a result of the slash of greenhouse emissions. The conference was postponed last year because of the pandemic. It will go on till November 12th.
Scientists have predicted that any additional warming past 1.5 degrees will trigger more intense and frequent climate extremes. For example, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees could result in around 420 million fewer people being exposed to extreme heat waves according to the UN. Warming of Earth by 2 degrees is deemed a dangerous threshold by scientists, as it may result in the world's most densely populated places turning into deserts or being flooded.
Advanced World economies like the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand strengthened their 2030 targets. The G7 group of countries pledged to halve their collective emissions by 2030.
Major economies in the developing world also brought new commitments to COP26. China pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060 and strengthened its 2030 targets.
Net zero-emission is when the amount of greenhouse gas emitted in the atmosphere is no greater than the amount removed from the atmosphere.
This week India also pledged to achieve net-zero by 2070 and ramp up installation of renewable energy. By 2030, half of India’s electricity will come from renewable sources.
India was among the 27 countries to sign up for a sustainable agriculture action agenda, laying out new commitments to make agriculture more sustainable and less polluting.
In its biennial Biennial Update Report, India claimed that its solar energy capacity stands at about 45 gigawatts which means a 17 times increase in the last seven years. Maharashtra became the only state to win an award at COP26 for action against climate change. Maharashtra won the award for the replacement of conventional forms of energy with natural ones and for making efforts to save the climate at a subnational level.
Several ambitious agreements have been signed at the convention. Alok Sharma, an Indian origin UK cabinet minister and other leaders, like the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said they hoped for a phaseout of coal by 2030 for developed nations and 2040 for developing ones.
Yet, implementation remains uncertain. Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics with the World Resources Institute in an article on CNN says that "There's a lot of big statements, which don't have the details underneath: exactly when, how much, who's going to do what."