Yes, the Cop26 could have gone further – but it still brought us closer to a 1.5C world | James shaw

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THELike many others, I would have liked to see a stronger result from the Cop26. But we must not lose sight of the fact that a lot has been accomplished – and the end result brings us much closer to where we need to be than a few weeks ago.

For the first time, countries have agreed to take action on fossil fuels. Yes, it could have gone further – but let’s not forget that never before has a single word been said about fossil fuels in a Cop deal. The agreed text is therefore important.

We also reached consensus on a number of unresolved issues from Paris, such as the complex question of how countries can work together to reduce emissions. It may not seem like much, but the fact that countries have agreed on a set of rules that will guarantee real emission reductions around the world is really important.

In short, Cop has almost brought us closer to being on track for a 1.5C world. Estimates range from 1.8C to 2.4C. A year ago, we were looking north of 3.5 ° C.

The window of opportunity to achieve this is extremely small, but it is still there. The bottom line is this: if we seize the chance we have left, it depends on the political will to take national action at home.

It was very encouraging to see the world’s two biggest sources of greenhouse gases – China and the United States – signaling their intention to work together again to reduce emissions.

And right now, President Biden is proposing a national spending plan that includes a staggering $ 550 billion for climate action.

This is the level of engagement that we need to see in developed countries around the world. Of course, not everyone has the financial might of America, but we all need to do everything in our power to turn ambition into action.

Here at Aotearoa, we intend to lead by example and show the world what meaningful, ambitious and sustainable climate action looks like.

Ahead of Cop26, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and I announced an updated nationally determined contribution target to halve the emissions for which New Zealand is responsible by 2030. Achieving this target will take many years. changes, big and small, which together over time will add up to a better, cleaner future.

These changes will be felt across the political and economic spectrum – in energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services. This is why we are taking a ‘whole of government’ approach to climate action, which in my view means that every minister is now a climate minister.

And there is no part of our country, no business, no community, no family, whose future will not be shaped in one way or another by the decisions we make over the next decade. .

It is therefore essential to ensure a just transition that leaves no one behind. We will only be successful in our mission if we move towards our low-carbon future in a way that also helps eliminate existing patterns of inequality.

Our next steps in tackling climate change in Aotearoa, New Zealand will build on the achievements we have already made. In recent years, we have passed legislation requiring all listed companies and major financial institutions to report on their climate-related risks.

We have modernized schools, hospitals, universities and businesses to run on clean energy instead of dirty coal. And we’ve made it easier for families to buy low-emission vehicles.

But is it enough? Not even close. We have a long way to go, but we know where we need to go. The same goes for countries around the world. Following the agreements reached at Cop26 and the frameworks put in place, there is no longer any room for apologies. It’s time to act.

As I said in New Zealand’s national declaration in Glasgow, since we collectively recognized the need to start cutting emissions 30 years ago, the world has only succeeded in doubling the amount of carbon dioxide that we have released into the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution. .

And all the while, our political leaders knew what was going on – the science has been clear for a long time. They had a chance to stop it, but they didn’t.

And so it’s up to us – here, now.


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