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COP26 Earth’s climate is changing

This is the conclusion of the World Meteorological Organisation State of the Global Climate 2021 report which was published on the opening day of COP26 conference in Glasgow. The authors observed that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) had resulted in continued global warming and the preceding 7 years were likely to be the warmest ever recorded. The changing climate has increased the impact on crops, food supplies and ecosystems thereby reducing progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The UN’s Secretary General Antonio Guiterres commented that ‘Scientists are clear on facts. Now leaders need to be clear on their actions. The door is open and the solutions are there. We must act now to safeguard our future and save humanity’. Pieter Tallas, WMO’s Secretary General explained that ‘extreme weather events are the new norms and that there is mounting scientific evidence that some of these events are a result of human induced climate change’.

COP26 Forests and land use pledge

Forests provide the most diverse habitats for ecosystems and in addition help to regulate the weather and climate. About 10% of global tree cover has however been lost in the past 20 years.

The Glasgow declaration on Forests and Land use commits signatories to provide £14 billion in finance to restore degraded land by reforesting, protecting existing forest, mitigating wild fire damage and supporting indigenous people, who live within these forests. Unlike the preceding 2014 New York declaration, this time the EU, China and the US are willing to sign the declaration together with major forested countries like Brazil and Indonesia.

Since forests are a major sink for GHG, reforestation will help to absorb some of these gases which otherwise would congregate in the upper atmosphere and result in global warming. In addition, 28 countries agreed to work to remove the products resulting from land clearance of forests from the supply chain which include soy, palm oil, cocoa, beef and wood pellets. Moreover 30 of the world’s largest financial institutions have promised to end investment in activities leading to deforestation.

COP26 Global methane reduction pledge

More than 100 countries including the USA have agreed to reduce their methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared with 2020 levels. Methane is a much more powerful GHG than carbon dioxide but unlike CO2 has a short half life of only 10 years.
The new Glasgow initiative pledges to reduce methane leaking from oil and gas wells, pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure as well as emissions from livestock and decaying waste in landfill sites.



 

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