COP26 / Is integral ecology just a slogan?


“International negotiations cannot make significant progress because of the position of countries that privilege their national interests over the global common good.” And indeed, “world summits on the environment in recent years have not lived up to expectations because, due to a lack of political judgment, they have not been able to reach truly meaningful and effective global environmental agreements”.

These are the decisions expressed by Pope Francis laudato si’, referring to the environmental summits held 25 times since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992) to the longer sequence of COPs (Conventions of the Parties), i.e. the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Berlin in 1995 From Madrid in December 2019.

Should the same decisions of insignificance and ineffectiveness apply to the 26th edition to be held in Glasgow from today to 12 November? Some elements suggest a non-positive result, others expect a non-formal agreement capable of taking appropriate action to protect “our common home” from global warming.

The complex and lengthy work of COP 26, as well as a series of side events of mainly media interest, will be based on a thorough examination of the progress made in relation to the commitments made with the Paris Agreements at the end of COP 21. , aimed at keeping global temperature rise below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels and continuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 °C. This is a goal that has yet to be achieved and is likely to worsen in the coming decades in the absence of adequate measures: this is at least the summary assessment contained in the latest IPCC report, the UN body responsible for all studies and Collects and processes scientific research on climate change.

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So what are the main objectives of COP 26? They can be summarized in four points: a guarantee of net global emissions to zero by the middle of the century; keep 1.5°C of global warming achievable compared to pre-industrial levels; Committed to raising $100 billion annually by 2025 to help developing countries combat the adverse effects of climate change; Finalize the set of rules guiding the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not unattainable. In this sense, attention should be paid to the situation in EU countries, where emissions in 2019 were 24% lower than in 1990, exceeding the 20% reduction limit set by Europe for 2020; And this, it should be noted, without a reduction in GDP, which has certainly increased over the same period. All this is still not enough and above all it has to guarantee continuity in the coming decades. However, 27 EU countries were not satisfied with the first results and green deal, a comprehensive program of economic transformation and relaunch at the European Council of December 2020, “the EU’s binding target of a net internal reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels”.

One element that positions the Paris Agreements likely to be implemented and that feeds the most pessimistic forecasts on our climate future is the fact that the mitigation measures taken by each country are on a voluntary basis. In fact, an innovative factor in CoP21 was the new way of presenting the various countries’ emissions reduction objectives, which called for the formulation of national voluntary contributions (Nationally Determined Contribution), known as NDC. This has led to some interesting internal verification and control processes in each country, but it has faced several limitations: in addition to being voluntary in nature, and therefore not binding, NDCs come with different criteria for each country. are made and are not very homogeneous. Furthermore, given the arbitrariness of time, it happens that not all countries have respected the five-year deadline for submissions and not all have agreed to have a 5-year deadline for their updates. Europe’s noble behavior therefore runs the risk of getting stuck on such aspects, rendering many efforts to bolster the old continent’s green ambitions in vain.

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One of these ambitions is to quickly eliminate coal as an energy source: we can say that we are already on the right track, if estimated by some research institutes, namely the electricity consumption in Europe in 2019. The share derived from renewable energy for the first time exceeded that obtained from coal. However, there is resistance from some states in Central Europe and then, when the program seeks to expand globally, it immediately finds brakes from Asian giants, India and China, but also unexpected countries such as Australia, which, by 2030, Outlining his opposition to the proposal for total decarbonisation, he also threatened – then threatened to return – not to participate in COP 26.

The other big question weighing on the success of the Glasgow Summit is financial. Italy’s Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani, commenting on the good performance of the PreCoP26 Preliminary Conference in Milan a month ago, acknowledged the seriousness of the financial problem, noting that the $100 billion commitment made by developed countries is not even there. The CoP15 of 2009 will be sufficient to achieve environmental and energy change on a global scale; Moreover, the amount collected in recent years is still less than 100.

An interesting point to focus on during the Scottish Conference isHealth Programs: It is important that health still burdened by the pandemic in the global context has been selected as a priority scientific area of ​​CoP26. The health program indicates certain priorities to which all countries have to commit and indicates operating conditions to be respected; Priorities are of concern, in particular, the creation of climate-resilient health systems and the development of sustainable low-carbon health systems.

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Therefore, we will not only talk about the climate in Glasgow. On the other hand, the problem of climate change, like all environmental problems, does not tolerate reductive and sectoral approaches and requires consideration of the diversity and breadth of relationships and interrelationships among all elements. It is the perspective of integral ecology, going back to one of the cornerstones of laudato si’: CoP26 will be a test bed to verify whether the concept of integral ecology is merely taken as a high-sounding slogan to formulate official statements or if it is solidified through the maze of economics and politics. begins to make its way.

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