What to watch at COP26

Climate activists "set fire" to George Square, Glasgow, with an art installation of faux flames, smoke, and banners, and giant fire extinguishers, creating a field of climate fire to welcome world leaders to Glasgow for the Cop26 conference.

Over 100 world leaders are gathering in Glasgow, Scotland, for the UN's annual climate summit from 31 October-12 November. It is the 26th gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a treaty signed in 1992 by about 150 countries to rein in the greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming. Amid mounting evidence of the risks posed by climate change, both advanced and developing countries will be under pressure to make more ambitious emissions-reductions pledges at the event known as COP26. We spoke with Shari Friedman, managing director for climate and sustainability at Eurasia Group, to get a better idea of what to expect.


Why is COP26 important?

While there is a COP meeting every year, this one is particularly important because it will revisit the commitments enshrined in the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015, which aims to limit global warming from preindustrial levels to "well below 2 degrees Celsius." Signatories were required to lay out their plans for meeting this goal in so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). But climate science has continued to evolve, and the consensus is now that temperature increases need to be limited to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the worst and most irreversible effects of global warming. To meet that goal, scientists believe the world needs to halve its emissions by 2030 and reach "net zero" by 2050. Net zero refers to a situation in which greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere are offset by natural processes removing them. Consequently, the national delegations to COP26 will be under pressure to outline a clear and feasible trajectory for more ambitious emissions-reduction efforts.

Do you expect them to meet this challenge?

While there will be progress, contributions will likely not put global emissions on a path to meet net zero by 2050. It's true that there has been a flurry of activity in the run-up to COP26. Over 116 countries have already presented new NDCs. The EU for example, has submitted its Fit for 55 proposal, outlining a 55 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, and the US has presented a plan to limit emissions by 50-52 percent by 2030, though political obstacles have raised doubts about whether it can follow through. While other countries have increased credible near-term targets, many others have either not offered new measures in their NDCs or have made insufficient or long-term pledges without concrete near-term plans. Other top polluters such as China, Indonesia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia have made commitments to reach net zero later than 2050.

What other topics will be discussed?

Developing countries will be sure to demand industrialized countries cough up the $100 billion in annual funding they promised in 2009 (but never fully delivered) to help implement costly projects to move away from polluting forms of producing energy. The delay has added to developing country discontent about being asked to reduce their emissions to solve a problem that was largely created a long time ago by now-rich countries when they were industrializing. Another important topic is creating a rulebook that enables emissions trading among countries on a project level.

Will anything be achieved beyond the formal negotiations?

Yes, outside of the country negotiations, we are seeing sector initiatives. These include the Global Methane Pledge, a US-EU plan to reduce emissions of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) by at least 30 percent from 2020 levels; the Powering Past Coal Alliance of national and sub-national governments aiming to phase out coal-fired power stations; the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which is seeking to protect 30 percent of the world's lands, freshwater, and oceans by 2030; and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, a grouping of financial institutions with assets of more than $100 trillion aiming to align emissions from their portfolios with net zero pathways by 2050.

How will soaring energy prices affect the talks?

This development will enable a dual political narrative. Climate advocates will say it shows the need for an accelerated energy transition and a quicker build-out of renewable capacity to ease supply constraints. At the same time, fossil fuel proponents will call for less stringent regulations and more clear investment signals to develop the fuels they say are more reliable and affordable. That the EU, a global leader in climate policies, is now struggling with soaring energy prices will cause some to doubt whether transformational change is possible.

What do you expect post-COP?

International negotiations, while important and a significant opportunity to act collectively on a global scale, are not the only way forward. In the past few years, the private sector has made significant progress, and we expect to see continued pressure from investors for companies to mitigate climate risks. Meanwhile, proliferating corporate net zero commitments will have knock-on effects across supply chains, and the increasingly evident impact of climate change will shift voters and consumers to become more sensitive to the issue. Regardless of the outcome in Glasgow, COP's overall objective is shifting in an important way: With the science increasingly clear and less subject to interpretation (we know what needs to happen and by when), the conversation around climate change is shifting to one that is less about negotiation and more about transparency, acceleration, and accountability.

Shari Friedman is managing director of the climate and sustainability desk at Eurasia Group.

Empowering minority-owned businesses in 2022

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?
A woman of color smiling as she uses a tablet

One of the keys to accelerating financial inclusion and building a more equitable digital economy is to enable minority-owned businesses to scale. And one of the fastest ways to do that is through partnerships with a global network like Visa. At the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI), we’re committed to providing research and insights on important issues related to inclusive economic policy. Our reports cover topics like what women-owned businesses need to unlock growth and how to empower Black and Brown-owned banks. Read more of our latest stories here.

Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

More Show less
The politics of US crime: Perception vs reality

A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.

U.S Navy/EYEPRESS

100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

More Show less
The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

More Show less
Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

More Show less
The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

More Show less
Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

Subscribe to GZERO Media's YouTube channel to get notifications when new videos are published.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

The AI addiction cycle

GZERO World Clips

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal