Reader's letter: Lots of words, little action
Micheal Bassey’s letter Powerful Words (News Views, November 4) was a perfect example of my prediction that lots will be said at COP26 but questioned how much will be done as a result. It is now clear that COP26 ended in humiliating failure.
Twelve years ago at Cop 12 in Copenhagen the developing nations refused to limit their economic growth to satisfy the West. It was only the promise of hundreds of billions of dollars that persuaded them cooperate.
But when it came to the crunch at COP26, some of those developing nations rebelled, because India with the other like-minded countries knew that they could not run their economies without coal and other fossil fuels, never mind be able to grow them.
Faced with the agreement being lost at the last minute, Alok Sharma and the UN backed down, and replaced the words “phase-out” with “phase-down” in regard to coal.
Just that one word was devastating for the agreement because it contains no obligation to do any of its provisions and no timescales are mentioned, which means that India and the rest can interpret the clause any way they want.
In short, they will be able to carry on burning all the coal they want, for as long as they want.
The wording of the rest of the agreement is also pretty weak and ineffectual. It is full of terms such as urges, requests and invites, which mean there is no real obligation on anybody to do anything and all COP26 has really agreed on is to meet up next year and discuss things again at Cop 27.
The COP26 Agreement inevitably reaffirms the 1.5C target.
It would have been politically impossible to do otherwise. However, 1.5C was never an option, and was effectively kicked into touch at Paris, when it was acknowledged that emissions would carry on rising till 2030. According to the science, emissions would need to be cut in half in this decade to hit 1.5C, something which is clearly not possible now and a much higher temperature increase is likely.
Although the UK is now responsible for less than 1% of global carbon emissions and that our carbon emissions have fallen faster than any other nation in the G20, we are still being pressed towards severe changes in our life styles caused by the imagined need to further reduce our tiny emissions to achieve that impossible target.
While most people, including me, absolutely want to protect the planet, we have not been consulted on or have consented to these fundamental, largely unnecessary and very costly changes to the way we live our lives.Nigel Farage has started a petition demanding a referendum on Boris Johnson’s proposals. I have signed it and perhaps others concerned about the likely effects on our lives would also sign it. We might then find out how the public actually perceive the true significance of the decisiveness of COP26. — R. SHEPPARD, Beckingham.