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2021 Year in Review: Climate action, or blah, blah, blah? |
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2021 Year in Review: Climate action, or blah, blah, blah? |

2021 Year in Review: Climate action, or blah, blah, blah?


Entering uncharted territory

Global temperatures should not rise by more than 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels in order to avoid catastrophic climate changes. However, the chances of the world getting warmer over the next five year continue to increase.

The World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) flagship The State of the Global Climate A UN Environment report in October warned that the global average temperature has already risen by 1.2 degrees. We are on the right track to warmth This century, by 2.7 degrees 

Numerous UN agencies reported that greenhouse gas concentrations were at an all-time high and that the planet is headed towards dangerously high temperatures. These are worrying implications for future generations.

Climate change is causing more extreme weather events. There were many more this year, including the Catastrophic flooding Many people died in July in several western European countries. devastating wildfires In Russia and the Mediterranean, August.

Data from the WMOIt is clear that the rise in natural disasters over the past decades has disproportionately impacted poorer countries. Last year, it contributed to a record number of deaths. Food insecurity is increasingAfrica: Poverty and Displacement

With most of its land only a few feet above sea level, Kiribati is seeing growing damage from storms and flooding.

© UNICEF/Vlad Sokhin

Kiribati is experiencing increasing damage from flooding and storms, with most of its land just a few feet above the sea level.

Bearing the brunt

Paradoxally, countries that are most affected by the climate crisis are also those who are least responsible for creating it. This is a point made by increasing stridency politicians and activists who have helped to push adaptation higher up on the agenda.

The 2015 year is all about adapting. Paris AgreementClimate Change. It aims to reduce different countries and communities’ vulnerability to climate change by increasing their ability to absorb impacts.

However, time is running out for some and particularly Small Island Developing States They are at risk of being submerged by rising sea level, and there is a gap in financing to protect them.

A key UN Environment (UNEP) report in November It should be noted Even if countries turned off their emissions taps today, the climate impacts will continue for decades to come. “We need a step change in adaptation ambition for funding and implementation to significantly reduce damages and losses from climate change,” said UNEP chief Inger Andersen. “And we need it now.”  

Fossil fuels are still burning

If we are to limit the rise in temperature, we need to accelerate the transition to cleaner forms and end the use to coal.

Although progress on this front is still sketchy, current plans indicate that governments will make significant strides. Continue to produce fossil-fuel energy Sources in large quantities that will cause more warming despite better climate commitments.

Governments project an increase in global oil production over the next 20 years, while only a slight decrease in coal production. These plans, taken together, indicate that fossil fuel production will increase, at minimum, until 2040.

These findings were made public in the UN’s latest report Production Gap reportThe profile included profiles for 15 major producers of fossil fuels, which showed that most countries will continue to support the growth of fossil fuel production.

The UN held an event to try to change this trajectory. High-Level Energy DialogueThis is the first such event in over 40 years. Private companies pledged to reach just more than 200 million people.

Additionally, the governments committed to installing an additional 698 gigawatts from solar, wind or geothermal energy as well as renewables-based hydrogen. Businesses, notably power utilities pledged to increase their total installed capacity to 823 GW by 2030.   

Restoring natural habitats can help to address climate and biodiversity crises.

CIFOR/Terry Sunderland

Restoring natural habitats can help address climate and biodiversity crises.

Making peace with nature

Extreme weather is on the rise. This is a sign that the natural world is responding to climate change. But, working with nature is one of the best ways for balance to be restored.

This will require a lot more investment and a rethinking of how we interact with nature.

The UN has Estimate that an area of land roughly the size of China will need to restored to its natural state, if the planet’s biodiversity and the communities who rely on it are to be protected, and Annual investments If the world is to address the triple threat of climate and biodiversity, it will need to triple its investment in nature-based solutions by 2030, and fourfold by 2050.

Meanwhile, with more than a million species at risk of extinction, UN chief António Guterres called on countries to work together to ensure a sustainable future for people and the planet, as the first part of the UN Biodiversity Conference Opened in October. The second part is scheduled for Spring 2022.

The conference will create a global plan for the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of biodiversity and other ecosystems over the next ten years.

 Improving irrigation systems in developing countries supports livelihoods and helps attain the UN’s sustainable development goals.

© WFP/Badre Bahaji

Improving irrigation systems in developing countries supports livelihoods and helps attain the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Show me the money

To obtain renewable energy, Electric transportThere are many ways to address the climate crisis. These include reforestation, lifestyle changes, and a variety of other solutions. It is still not clear where the money for all of this will come from.

Over a decade ago, developed nations committed to mobilize $100 million per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing economies. The goal has not been achieved.

The business world seems to be realizing that climate investments can make economic sense. In most countries, for example, going solar is now cheaper than building new coal power plants, and clean energy investments could create 18 million jobs by 2030. 

In October, 30 CEOs of major companies and senior business leaders, worth approximately $16 trillion each, met with their top executives. Participated in a meeting Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance, to create guidelines and products that align existing finance and investment systems with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Since its creation, the GISD Alliance has developed standards and tools aimed at moving trillions of dollars to finance a more sustainable world.

GISD released its latest tool this year to accurately measure companies’ impact on sustainable development targets. Investors will also be able to gain key insights. The group is now creating funds that will create real life opportunities to finance the Goals.

Demonstration outside the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, representing the victims of the climate crisis.

UN News/Laura Quiñones

Demonstration outside the COP26 Climate Conference at Glasgow, Scotland.

Promising the earth at COP26

The COP26 UN Climate Conference was the centrepiece event in climate change, at least in terms its visibility in the media and the general public. It took place in Glasgow in November.

This two-week intensive event was convened in order to go beyond the Paris Agreement of 2015 Conference and actually work out the details of turning these promises into concrete action.

There were many. WarningsBefore COP26, there was concern that the conference would not produce the desired results. huge demonstrations in Glasgow – witnessed by our UN News team on the ground – and around the world, from people of all ages demanding more action from governments. 

Some COP veterans felt a change in the atmosphere. There was more positivity and a sense of possibility that something tangible could be achieved. Major pledge to restore the world’s forests, along with a list of commitments from public and private sector actors to combat climate change, curb biodiversity destruction and hunger, and to protect indigenous peoples’ rights.

The potential solution to the question of climate financing seemed to be on its day‘, with the announcement that nearly 500 global financial services firms had agreed to align $130 trillion – some 40 per cent of the world’s financial assets – with the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Many world leaders were disappointed by the Glasgow finance negotiations.

Bhutan, which represents the group of Least Developed Countries, lamented that countries’ public statements often differ from what is heard during negotiations.

“We came to Glasgow with high expectations. We need strong commitments to ensure the survival of the billion people living in the LDCs in the future”, said the country’s representative on ‘adaptation day’.

On ‘energy day’, the Global Clean Power Transition Statement was announced, a commitment to end coal investments, scale up clean power, make a just transition, and phase out coal by the 2030´s in major economies, and in the 2040´s elsewhere.

There are currently 77 members, 46 of which include Chile, Vietnam, Poland and Vietnam. 23 of these countries have made first-time commitments to end coal. However, the largest coal financiers (China Japan and Republic of Korea), did not join.

Negotiators marking the closing of the United Nations climate summit, COP26, which opened in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31 October.  The conference sought new global commitments to tackle climate change.

UN News/Laura Quiñones

Negotiators mark the closing ceremony of the United Nations Climate Summit, COP26. It was held in Glasgow (Scotland) on 31 Oct. The conference sought to create new global commitments in order to combat climate change.

‘Keep pushing forward’

The final agreement at COP26 was not without drama, heartbreak, and drama. Alok Sharma, chairperson, was inaugurated at the end of the plenary session. Moved to tears The tension in negotiations was intensified by India’s last-minute intervention, which apparently changed the wording of the fossil fuels section. This caused some fury from some countries.

However, The agreement was notable for the inclusion, for the first time ever at a COP, of those two words – fossil fuels – which the nations of the world agreed to “phase down” (rather than the original “phase out”, to the chagrin of Mr. Sharma, and many delegates).

While some commentators feel that the agreement was not sufficient to save the world’s climate-related catastrophes, others see hope in the spirit of the negotiations and the possibility that each COP will see tangible and worthwhile steps towards a sustainable future.

“I know you are disappointed. But the path of progress is not always a straight line”, “Said the UN Secretary GeneralIn response to the deal. “Sometimes there are detours. Sometimes there are also ditches. But we can get there, I am certain. We are in the fight for our lives, and we must win. Never give up. Never give up. Keep pushing forward”.


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