With the U.N. climate conference, COP26, about to kick off, climate activists and world leaders released their final plans before jetting off to Scotland. As previously reported by Liberty Nation, the pressure is on to commit the world to life-altering changes. The conference begins on Oct. 31 and will continue until Nov. 12. Ambitious global action – and massive funding for it – is the goal, as climate scientists warn global warming is close to becoming uncontrollable.
Xi Jinping Passes on Attendance
Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be among the attendees. Despite being the leader of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, Xi will be sending their lead climate negotiator instead, Xie Zhenhua. China has updated its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to boost its headline pledges, but in reality, it holds nothing new. According to the U.N., the update from China is not an update, it’s a reutterance of what they already indicated.
The new NDC showed China aims to peak its carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and trend downwards, becoming carbon neutral before 2060. Many climate experts were hoping for more from China, but a Chinese official said the main focus of the summit is to establish a $100 billion a year fund for the developing world’s climate action from richer countries.
China’s Way or the Highway
Li Shuo, a policy advisor at Greenpeace China did not shy away this week in criticizing the Chinese government, saying Beijing’s lack of new promises “casts a shadow on the global climate effort.” Shuo shared that “in light of the domestic economic uncertainties, the country appears hesitant to embrace stronger near term targets, and missed an opportunity to demonstrate ambition.”
China is seriously struggling with electricity shortages in recent years and requested miners increase their production of coal for its power plants. Sixty percent of the country’s electricity is sourced by coal-fired power generation, which represents a major contribution to carbon emissions.
Scientists have warned that nations have to up their game and take immediate action to reach their goal of keeping global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. With the World’s biggest polluter taking no new immediate action, optimism for the success of COP26 is dimming.
The Chinese foreign minister said his country’s cooperation on climate change is inseparable from the “broader relationship” with the United States. He called upon the U.S. government to improve relations with China. One can read between the lines and determine that the government and its people need to drop their concerns about the origin of COVID-19, the ongoing slave labor human rights abuses, and tensions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the South China Sea if they want to see legitimate action from China regarding climate change.
Biden Showing Up Empty-Handed
President Joe Biden will be in attendance for COP26, but what can he contribute? With his party in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, he failed to get an infrastructure bill with a strong climate agenda passed in time for the summit. The U.S. president touched down in Scotland with a weak plan that is incentive-heavy and lacks mandates or penalties. His more aggressive climate change programs were gutted after his party failed to get enough members of Congress on board for his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan.
Eyes have been on the United States since Biden set himself up to lead the charge across the world in combatting global warming. But he and his party have been all talk and no action this year regarding a climate agenda. Pledges and promises on behalf of the United States will be translucent with no legislative mandate to back them.
Energy Crisis in Europe
The skyrocketing price of electricity in Europe has crucial timing implications. Europe holds the weight of a large share of global emissions. The surge in pricing and scarcity exemplifies its dependence on natural gas. Despite disassociating with coal, their reliance on gas has been maintained as they develop clean energy infrastructure. With no exit plan from gas, Europe is stuck on how it will meet its independently set climate target of reducing emissions by 55 percent – compared to 1990 levels – by 2030.
Gas accounts for a fifth of Europe’s energy consumption; sourcing the majority of it from Russia. The price of gas dictates the price of electricity. This issue signals that all other areas of the world will face the same problem in their transition away from dirty energy and towards cleaner alternatives. This concern is expected to be a talking point from European leaders as they share their concerns over the crisis they are experiencing.
~ Read more from Keelin Ferris.