As many of you will probably be aware the 26th Conference of the Parties summit (COP26) comprising members of the United Nations framework convention on climate change, was recently held in Glasgow. During it, the Glasgow Climate pact was formed and agreed to by all the 196 countries present. The conference’s aim of keeping the 1.5 Celsius increase compared to pre-industrial levels was considered by some to have been achieved but only just and only if major improvements in national commitments and action are made in the next year or two. To this end, the next few COP summits have been scheduled annually, instead of in five years as the timing of the Paris agreement was. Remaining within a 1.5 Celsius increase in warming will do much to mitigate the worst effects of climate change but, according to the head of the U.K’s committee on climate change, Chris Stark, ” a path to a 1.5 Celsius future is now ‘hanging by a thread'”. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of 1.5 Celsius the IPCC produced a special report on it’s benefits, available here, which is fairly readable to the layperson and a thorough account.
Reasons for scepticism and disappointment
I remain sceptical and disappointed for a fair few reasons. One reason for scepticism is the commitment of countries representing 85% of the world’s forest to end deforestation within nine years. Considering the host nation is currently in the process of chopping down 108 ancient woodlands, in what is already the most deforested country in Europe (U.K), in order to build a high speed railway that even it’s own company admits will never be carbon neutral during it’s lifetime leaves me sceptical. In the past couple of weeks the copse beside my house has been cut down for housing development, even though the owners don’t have planning permission yet.
I’m disappointed that no payments from developed countries for developing countries, who are already suffering loss and damage due to climate change, were agreed. The irony is that these countries contributed the least to climate change yet are largely suffering the worst effects such as floods, cyclones, droughts, etc. In my opinion these payments aren’t a philanthropic act. It’s recompense for the climate damage that has largely been caused by the developed world.
The value of nature based solutions
However my greatest disappointment is the lack of recognition of the relationship between biodiversity loss and climate change along with a lack of agreement and action regarding utilising nature-based solutions.
If you’ve read my previous posts you will already be aware of my love for the biodiversity on our planet. We are also highly dependent on biodiversity. For example, by pollinating our crops and many of the original sources of modern drugs come from nature. Climate change and biodiversity loss is inextricably linked. Preserving natural habitats that capture carbon dioxide such as forests and peat bogs would help us with mitigating the worst effects of climate change by absorbing some of our excess carbon dioxide. Conversely, if they’re damaged or destroyed, we will lose that capacity and our greenhouse gas emissions will be even higher. Peat bogs could even release excess methane as it is destroyed.
I’m a passionate supporter of the Climate and ecological emergency bill (also known as Zero hour) which, as it’s name suggests, has taking dual action on both climate change and biodiversity loss at it’s heart.
I’m also a novice permaculturist. Permaculture practice is based on observing the patterns and cycles inherent in nature and then utilizing those same patterns and cycles to design sustainable agricultural systems and human societies.
If we are to save our planet and thus ourselves, we need to learn to live in sync with nature as well as become more aware of the interdependence of all living organisms and natural systems.