Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
Now's the moment to pressure global leaders to step up their climate game
Here's what you can do to help up the ante before COP 26
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
With the Global Climate Conference (COP 26) coming up on October 31, 2021, it’s time to let the leaders in your country know that their citizens want significantly upgraded nationally determined climate commitments (NDCs). While the world has made progress on committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the current NDCs aren’t enough to keep the world below 1.5°C, the target agreed to under the Paris Agreement. A recent WRI and Climate Analytics analysis, Closing the Gap, shows that we are on a trajectory right now to reach somewhere between 2.1°C and 2.4°C of warming by the end of the century.
To move from 2.4°C to 1.5°C, the world needs to make large scale, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in this decade. One path forward is having the 20 countries in the G20 up their climate commitments and take significant action to implement them. Since, according to the Closing the Gap analysis, as a group the G20 produce “around 75 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 80 percent of global GDP, and two-thirds of global population,” this group has a responsibility to step up and play a major role in reducing emissions.
The analysis shows that “if all G20 members were to adopt mid-century net zero commitments and align their NDCs with a 1.5°C pathway, end-of-century global warming could be limited to 1.7°C.” This would keep 1.5C within reach and allow the rest of the world to close the remaining gap, but only if the developed world also substantially ramps up financial support for the countries in the global south.
According to various sources (including the UN, Forbes, and the Sydney Morning Herald), in 2019 Morgan Stanley estimated the world needs to spend somewhere between US$5 and 90 trillion by 2050 to cut emissions and meet the 1.5C target. As part of the Paris agreement, developed countries committed to provide US$100 billion per year from 2020 to 2025, via the Green Climate Fund, to address climate action needs of developing countries. They committed to increasing the amount in 2025. However, according to a WRI report, the G20 countries have not yet met this commitment. In 2019, they raised only US$79.6 billion in climate finance, and more than a dozen nations did not meet their commitment to the collective $100 billion goal, including the United States, Australia, and Canada.
So, which countries are in the G20? Here’s the list: (those highlighted in red produce the most emissions) Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.
If you live in one of these countries/regions, what can you do to get your country to up the ante by COP 26?
The answer is, use your voice in whatever ways you can to communicate to your country’s leaders that they must commit to significant climate action now. There are three specific demands you can ask them to fulfill:
1. Commit to net-zero by 2050, in alignment with a pathway to 1.5C.
2. Develop and implement specific plans to cut GHG emissions by half by 2030.
3. Step up public finance for international climate action to close the gap and go beyond the commitment of $100 billion per year for developing countries.
> Write or call your government representatives asking them to commit to the three demands above and telling them why it’s important to you. You can use the words of the UN Secretary-General and the U.K. Prime Minister from their roundtable in September to help you make the case. In the U.S., the Sierra Club has a campaign that makes it easy for you to call your members of Congress and ask them to pass the Build Back Better Act.
> Spread the word on social media about what your country needs to do. Again, the Sierra Club has a social toolkit that helps you take action, as does Global Citizen.
> Sign petitions hosted by environmental groups. Global Citizen has a campaign asking world leaders to protect the planet. The League of Conservation Voters also has a petition in the U.S. asking Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act.
> Attend a climate rally, like one organized by Fridays for the Future, the Sunrise Movement which has activities planned for October 2021, or a local 350.org group.
We have no time to waste. What action will you take this week?
I wish you the best in your climate action. Thanks for all you do.